The Future of #EdTech in Language Learning

digital-screen-icons-handIf you already follow or use the “edtech” hashtag, then you know dozens of tweets on the topic pour in every few minutes. We at Rosetta Stone thought we’d share one of our favorite recent #edtech articles about the near future, as well as where we think educational technology may take language learning.

Times Higher Education brings us an overview of an exciting report about 12 technologies and tech implementation methods that we can expect to see coming out of Australia (and beyond) in the coming months and years.

In the coming six to twenty-four months, we can look for the expansion of ideas we’re already familiar with. Namely, blended learning plans, flipped classrooms, and the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) classroom. Wait a bit longer, and the here-and-now begins to look a lot more like the future we’ve been waiting for.

Machine Learning
This describes computers that are able to act and react based on what they “learn,” as opposed to what they’re programmed to do. We agree: the idea is both thrilling and creepy. And yes, machine learning is indeed a precursor to the artificial intelligence sci-fi has been promising us since the ‘60s. The most recognized form of machine learning today is the self-driving and self-parking car.

Less common, but more germane applications of machine learning are speech recognition and semantic applications, both potentially of critical importance for language teaching and learning.

Natural Interfaces or “NUIs”
To go along with machines that learn from us as we use them, NUIs can sense or understand gestures and facial expressions. To see what this means at a rudimentary level, watch these people paint on a screen, in thin air, by waving their hands around.

As the technology becomes more sophisticated, students might be able to become acquainted with how their cultural gestures might be interpreted somewhere else, as they’re learning that place’s language. For example, a hand gesture that means “it’s small” in the United States may mean “wait a moment” in Mexico. One day soon, a computer might be able to point this out to a student as they’re learning Spanish.

Wearable Devices
Google Glass is the most well-known wearable device at the moment, but it’s not the only game in town. Such devices are expected to work their way into classrooms in the next four to five years. Implantable devices are not so very far behind.

If William Gibson’s 1984 sci-fi classic got it right, the implantation of language-learning software, directly into the speech centers of the brain may eventually follow. For now, we can probably rest easy, as the obsolescence of traditional language learning is not in the foreseeable future.

Share this post with your colleagues to get your department talking about how you may use technology in future.

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