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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 6th, 2006, 06:17 pm
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Default advantages and disaadvantages of on-line learning

I recently got into this discussion with another teacher and I was wondering what everyone thought about all of these learn English on-line websites and programs.

Discussing CALL (computer assisted language learning) in general is too difficult, so I'd like narrow it down to all inclusive ESL sites for learners or similar sites.

I make ESL on-line learning games and I think the internet and these types of programs have their specific merits but I feel many places may be fooling students about the real potential they have.

Are these sites preying on people's aspirations to learn English and bleeding them for cash?

Are these sites filling a specific need for some students?

Do you think an on-line course can provide a well rounded ESL/EFL curriculum?

I can't say that I'm well informed about all the benefits of these programs, because you have to pay for them to use them. However, I put them right up there with the "learn to speak English in 30 days" software packages that sit at the bottom of people's closets. Those I have seen and they're not much more than a computer book and workbook.

What do you think?
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  #2 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 6th, 2006, 07:26 pm
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Default Re: advantages and disaadvantages of on-line learning

Hi Mark,

Please don't file them away with the learn English in 30 days Car Audio CDs. They have their limitations, but they are surely in a higher league than that.

The advantages are learning at your own pace and getting a customised program. Also, in a book, a student typically does 10 questions on a language point and then waits for a correction. In an online context, we can use a databank of several hundred questions so that the student can work through until really competent in that area.

The obvious weaknesses are in speaking and writing, but these too can be overcome through technology - voice recognition and also programs that can grade written work.

The other thing is social context. Computers are years away from being able to react in a socially normal way with a human. This, of course, is a big part of an ESL course.

Many companies offer 'blended' courses to the corporate market which make use of the advantages of both styles of learning - online and 'face to face'.
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  #3 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 6th, 2006, 08:30 pm
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Default Re: advantages and disaadvantages of on-line learning

I'm not down on CALL This actually came from a non-conversation with a man who runs a learn on your own and speak English better web program. I questioned him about a couple things on a forum and he tucked tail and ran. I was polite and actually asked out of genuin interest as I have made some simple things that seemed similar.

I use some CALL in my lessons as additions and I have a friend who uses the technology to do a lot of things, listening labs, on-line quizes, audio and video casts, power point projects ... His program is excellent but fueled by him in the constraints of a college course. The students have to do it.

Are there any longevity statistics out there for CALL self study programs?
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  #4 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 6th, 2006, 11:02 pm
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Default Re: advantages and disaadvantages of on-line learning

I like to think of the internet as a resource, not the course. Nothing can replace a real life teacher. Nothing.
The internet has many different resources (many free) for english learners.
- Blogs
- Forums
- Games
- A ton of information about almost anything
- podcasts
- MSN/Yahoo and other chat programs

A ton of resources, but not tons a courses. Use the internet to aid English learning, not as the main course.
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  #5 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 7th, 2006, 12:57 am
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Default Re: advantages and disaadvantages of on-line learning

i think there are quite a few advantages and they outweigh the disadvantages.

i studied korean online for a few months and i learned more in those few months than i did in the 5 years i have lived here. one thing that was very helpful with the course was that all the grammar instruction was in english. that helped me a lot. it's hard to tailor a real class like that with grammar in L1.

speech recognition software is getting very poweful these days. i imagine in a few years it will be implemented more online language learning programs and will be quite helpful. not there yet.

a big drawback of online learning (if you don't have a teacher you are assigned to during the course) is that getting questions answered is difficult.

another drawback is interaction but most of my lower/intermediate classes are very structured and we get into more "free" talking as they have those skills.

maybe online learning is less and less useful the higher your ability is.

but, if i were to study again, i would take a serious look at what's online, though i might be more driven to study and continue to study if i were surrounded by a class of my peers.

eric
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  #6 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 7th, 2006, 07:28 pm
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Default Re: advantages and disaadvantages of on-line learning

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I'm not down on CALL
Of course not, you've got FOUR websites. Where on earth do you get the time?
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  #7 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 12th, 2006, 09:16 am
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Default Re: advantages and disaadvantages of on-line learning

Quote:
Quote mesmark
I can't say that I'm well informed about all the benefits of these programs, because you have to pay for them to use them. However, I put them right up there with the "learn to speak English in 30 days" software packages that sit at the bottom of people's closets. Those I have seen and they're not much more than a computer book and workbook.

What do you think?
i think the "learn english in 30 days" touches on a bigger problem that some people think they can solve by studying online. the problem is, people don't want to do the work. they are looking for the easiest way out, whether it be in the class or online, just upload english into our skulls and let us be on our way.

i think if you take learning english seriously you will learn no matter if you are in a class or online. at least online each program is planned (hopefully stategically) to offer the most effecient and effective way to learn. you can't get that kind of consistency in language schools.

on a side note, after 6 years of teaching in korea i finally decided on my answer to the question, "How can I learn English?". i used to have a list of study tips and habits to follow. That was just met with groans. Now i just say, "You have to study hard. English is a difficult language to learn." This is also met with groans and protests but at least i feel better for being as direct as possible and hopefully some student takes that home with them to think about...
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  #8 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 12th, 2006, 05:14 pm
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Default Re: advantages and disaadvantages of on-line learning

Quote:
Quote emile
Of course not, you've got FOUR websites. Where on earth do you get the time?
I don't know. When I look back it does seem like a lot but a few of the sites I only update twice a year. Luckily Eric does the heavy lifting over at eslteachertalk.com . I just show up for the recordings
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  #9 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 12th, 2006, 10:29 pm
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Default Re: advantages and disaadvantages of on-line learning

Hi Mark,

Don't want to give you an ego-boost (or why not?), but your website was mentioned very positively here:

http://www.eslwebcamforkids.com/foru...topic.php?t=35
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  #10 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 12th, 2006, 10:32 pm
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Default Re: advantages and disaadvantages of on-line learning

Quote:
on a side note, after 6 years of teaching in korea i finally decided on my answer to the question, "How can I learn English?". i used to have a list of study tips and habits to follow. That was just met with groans. Now i just say, "You have to study hard. English is a difficult language to learn." This is also met with groans and protests but at least i feel better for being as direct as possible and hopefully some student takes that home with them to think about...
Don't you just dread that question? The problem is that various people learn in different ways and no one seems to have found a tool to help people discover the best way for them. I feel a project coming on...
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Unread Sep 12th, 2006, 10:44 pm
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Default Re: advantages and disaadvantages of on-line learning

Quote:
Quote emile
Don't you just dread that question? The problem is that various people learn in different ways and no one seems to have found a tool to help people discover the best way for them. I feel a project coming on...
hmmmm... sounds like an interesting project. i wonder if something like this already exists...
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  #12 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 12th, 2006, 11:37 pm
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Default Re: advantages and disaadvantages of on-line learning

Quote:
Quote emile
Hi Mark,

Don't want to give you an ego-boost (or why not?), but your website was mentioned very positively here:

http://www.eslwebcamforkids.com/foru...topic.php?t=35
Yay! Thanks for letting me know about that.

Quote:
Quote emile
The problem is that various people learn in different ways and no one seems to have found a tool to help people discover the best way for them. I feel a project coming on...
That's a good angle to take. Help the learner find their style instead of trying to find a style that suits all learners.

In response to Eric, I tell students it's like dieting. Some people watch what they eat. Some people run. Some people dance. Some people play sports. Some people swim... Some people don't seem to have to try at all, and others have to do everything to small success. But the one thing that is constant is they have to keep at it. AND it's not easy.
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  #13 (permalink)  
Unread Oct 25th, 2006, 05:39 am
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Default Re: advantages and disaadvantages of on-line learning

We use on-line courses as a component of our courses in a blended learning approach. I've found there are some people who love them and some who hate them. When we first started they were a compulsory part of the course, but some people just never completed them, causing all sorts of problems for us and for themselves - we were teaching in-company and the company was basically throwing its money away. But these same people attended lessons recently and would do all the "pen and paper" homework you asked them to, so it wasn't a matter of general motivation. We now make them optional - they are complementary to the course but the student can opt out. If they opt in, they have to sign an agreement guaranteeing they will use the programme at least an hour a week. If they don't, they don't get the programme in the following course.
People who hate working on the computer therefore opt out. But we still have a problem with people who opt in but then "can't find the time". Odd - if you tell people they have two hours class a week they find the time with no problems. But one hour class and one hour autonomous study, and they're "too busy". In some cases we've tried getting round that by integrating the on-line work and the lessons very closely - but it's not a solution if half the class have opted out.
A pity, because when they're done regularly but with class back up, I find they work. I've seen progress from students who have done the on-line course thoroughly which is clearly superior to that of those who haven't. Obviously one reason for this is simply that they've spent more time studying, but when there are large numbers involved, a blended course is far more cost-effective than an all teacher-led course, and the only way companies can allow their staff to dedicate more time to English training within the limitations of their budget.
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  #14 (permalink)  
Unread Oct 25th, 2006, 10:25 pm
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Default Re: advantages and disaadvantages of on-line learning

Susan, I've had very similar experiences. But would you agree that the younger generation of executives are more comfortable with online learning?

Also, some of our participants, could 'find the time' as long as it was on company time and not their own!
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  #15 (permalink)  
Unread Oct 26th, 2006, 04:01 am
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Default Re: advantages and disaadvantages of on-line learning

It would seem logical - but in my experience it isn't always true. I had a group in their fifties who took to it like ducks to water and other thirty-somethings who just didn't want to know.

Oddly, my experience with the "finding time" problem has been the opposite. When students are given the possibility of working in company time they often don't do it, complaining of too many interruptions, too much urgent work etc. When they can do it from home, we've been more successful. In fact, when we first started with this type of course it wasn't on-line but on the company server, and students could only work from their offices. We changed to an on-line course because students were demanding access from home.

Cultural differences perhaps?
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