Online Learning Update

December 3, 2012

The Tower of Babel: MOOCs, Online Learning, and Language…

Filed under: Online Learning News — Ray Schroeder @ 12:09 am

by Paul Prinsloo, Open Distance Teaching and Learning

Machine translation may soon, under certain conditions, make concerns about the role of language in online learning and MOOCs obsolete (e.g., Google’s ‘Babel fish’ heralds future of translation). Though this will solve the issue of translation, it will still not solve the fact that language, like culture and learning, are culturally embedded phenomena and not mere tools of communication. “… technologies are not a culturally neutral phenomenon; rather, they are cultural-specific ventures that are grounded and provided in a specific cultural context” (Masoumi & Lindström, 2012, p. 394). Unless we assume, (in my view, incorrectly), that online learning and MOOCs take place in a cultural hotchpotch of glocalized culture, then it may be time to reflect upon the role and impact of culture and specifically the language of tuition…

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