The University of Ottawa is proud to have participated in the 32nd edition of the Entretiens Jacques-Cartier, which took place last November. This year’s theme focused on digital humanities. Through multiple round table activities this event gave attendees the chance to discuss innovative solutions to the challenges faced in the digital age.
Among the participants was Marie-Josée Hamel, holder of the University of Ottawa Research Chair in New Technologies and Computer Assisted Language Learning. Professor Hamel was invited to discuss with peers and representatives from the private sector, the impact of technology on teaching and learning.
We asked our expert 5 reasons why the digital age has a positive impact in the context of language learning:
1. This way of learning allows the learner to become emancipated.
Indeed, we live in a period where individuality prevails and shapes the way we do things. As a result, the use of digital technology means that the teacher acts more of an adviser, offering a less restrictive learning method that can go beyond the classroom.
2. It supports the development of life skills.
The autonomy offered by this way of learning makes it possible to develop a sense of entrepreneurship and initiative, which are skills that can be applied anywhere. So, it's definitely a killing-two-birds-with- one-stone approach!
3. It makes learning a new language fun!
As Professor Hamel notes, the use of new information and communication technologies in the educational context "gives way to playful […] and engaging learning”. So, the notion that courses must be boring to be good is invalid.
4. This learning mode creates a collaborative and enriched environment.
According to Marie-Josée Hamel, the digital approach to teaching and learning “is a much more social, collaborative and horizontal [one]." Indeed, the use of technology in this context encourages active participation by learners, and the lack of structure enables them to help each other. Beautiful, isn’t it?
5. New school learning is more motivating and stimulating than old school learning!
In fact, electronic devices generate an "increase in the desire to invest oneself" in learning. However, the disproportionate use of these devices can have an opposite effect. For this reason, Professor Hamel advises as follows: "[do not] reserve moments of practice of a second language or a foreign language to moments exclusively online. It is important to communicate orally and in writing with people, real people. Face-to-face, in sync, in the moment."
In conclusion, the arrival of the digital age poses as a change for the better in education. As long as we proceed wisely, the use of technology in teaching and learning can open doors to a more stimulating and rewarding way of learning.