Technology has disruptively revolutionized almost every aspect imaginable in daily life and education is no exception. Institutions have assumed and continue to play an integral part in language learning. In the meantime, EdTech enterprise has started to reach out and connect with scholars, making contributions to language learning through providing technological solutions. How can the full potential of technology be utilized to promote language learning? With this question in mind, and strong support from the XMedia Lab at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the U.S.-China Youth Education Solutions (YES) Foundation, Doris Sommer, Professor of Literature at Harvard University, and Perry Gao, Co-founder of the Harvard XMedia Lab, co-hosted the “2018 Education Technology and Language Learning Seminar” on November 19 at Harvard University Faculty Club.
During the seminar, renowned scholars and experienced industry professionals from around the world shared their insights, exchanged ideas and discussed pedagogies on topics related to education, technology, and language learning. Among the speakers were a Turing Award recipient, U.S. President-appointed members of the National Science Board, an executive dean of the Harvard Engineering School, a director of the Harvard Technology in Education Program, and other highly regarded education and technology scholars — including John Hopcroft, Joe Blatt, Fawwaz Habbal, Doris Sommer, Frank Tang, Vicki Chandler, Yonghe Zheng, Changsuan Li, Perry Gao, and Arvid Nagel.
In their presentations, the participating scholars shared their success stories of using technology to impact learning, urged educators to refine technology tools without losing the sociability that supports human creativity, and encouraged people to adopt a holistic approach to education and bring imagination and passion back to the process of learning.
The seminar concluded with a panel discussion on the effectiveness of using technology to optimize learning. The participants demonstrated how educators can adopt a virtual classroom and adapt different pedagogies to foster smart learning and deep interactions, illustrated the effectiveness and challenges of online one-on-one language teaching products, and presented real examples such as Gogokid, a leading EdTech enterprise in China, and Minerva, an emerging innovative university based in California.
The seminar has indeed produced a “deep and beautiful weave” of cutting-edge ideas and resources of technology, language, and education, as Dr. Sommer predicted in her opening remarks. The hosts of the event, Perry Gao and Doris Sommer, hope there will be more opportunities like this in the future where scholars and researchers from different fields can share their experiences of making use of advances in technology to develop and expand human capacities for learning and growing.