Earlier this month, Voxy’s Chief Education Officer, Dr. Katharine B. Nielson, PhD, was one of four experts invited to speak at the White House as part of a brand new event called Technology in English. Also presenting were Greg Kessler, Professor and Director of the Language Resource Center at Ohio University; Lewis Johnson, Alelo cofounder; and David Fay, Regional English Language Officer at the U.S. Department of State.
The meeting, organized by John Mark King, a Regional English Language Officer at the U.S. Department of State, was designed to spark a dialogue across disciplines on the topic of English language learning and educational technology.
Despite the growing number of English language learners (ELLs) nationwide, there are relatively few emerging technologies designed to support their unique language learning needs. But forums like Technology in English—with attendees from academia, government and the private sector seeking new ways to collaborate—may help to change that.
During the event’s “Innovation Sharing” session, Nielson spoke about Voxy’s approach to educational technology and underscored the importance of using technology as an aid rather than a replacement to human involvement.
“We innovate by finding ways to use technology to make the historically inefficient and time-consuming elements of language instruction more streamlined and scalable than they are in traditional settings,” said Nielson.
In other words, Voxy uses technology to help teachers do what they do best: identify appropriate learning material, offer learners individualized feedback and provide learners with opportunities for output and interaction. Voxy also uses technology to help personalize instruction, produce effective learning material and track learner progress.
What emerged from the many lively discussions and workshop-style sessions of the day was that this diverse group of professionals all shared the same objective: How can we make English language learning and teaching more accessible to more learners through the use of technology?
Technology in English shed light on other areas of common ground, too, including:
- There was a unanimous desire among attendees to find synergistic ways of working together.
- There was significant interest in finding practical, demonstrable ways of improving access and outcomes for English learning.
- Stakeholders agreed that teachers are the most logical—and potentially most impactful—starting place to improve English language learning. Improving teacher training will be critical to drive innovation and change.
In an effort to keep the conversation going long after the event, a shared online space was made available to attendees for post-event followup and future collaborations. Each attendee brought different areas of expertise to the table and also needed help in different ways. The online collaboration tool will hopefully fill in these gaps, providing access to information, research and advice from industry peers.
Technology in English was made possible by the White House Office of Global Engagement and the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Photos courtesy of the Department of State. Learn more at http://americanenglish.state.gov.