The session began with a brief and largely comical overview of the history of Language Labs, which until the advent of computers had largely been based on rote learning, assisted by technology that was not specialized (i.e. was co-opted) for language labs, and which offered little in the way of extensions to out-of-class learning.
The big idea here is that a language lab’s function in this new digital age is to provide tools that students can use outside of class to supplement their learning, and these tools need to be interactive and adaptable, rather than reproducing mechanical learning techniques.
Streaming On-Demand media, Distance Learning, and live game interaction are some of the main tools presented in the lecture. All of these tools provide methods for creating an immersion atmosphere that students can enter. Also touched on the usefulness of podcasting class sessions, so that students can re-learn or revisit material from a class session.
Practical barriers to podcasting class sessions: teachers may be reluctant to broadcast sessions for fear of enabling students to skip class, “If they can just watch the class podcast whenever they want, then why would they come to class?”, and reluctance to disperse their image onto the web, so that mistakes and errors can be revisited again and again. Chipping your flaws in stone, so to speak. In the age of YouTube Journalism images can be used against you. As Alfred Gell pointed out, it isn’t so much the seeming property that a picture can “steal your soul” so much as it is that simulacra of any form (be it hair, blood, or your own image) can be a force that can turn against you when released to the wider world.