Web 2.0, Synthetic Immersive Environments, and Mobile Resources for Language Education
In light of the increasingly blurred line between mediated and nonmediated contexts for social, professional, and educational purposes, attention to the presence and use of innovative digital media is critical to the consideration of the future of computer-assisted language learning (CALL). This article reviews current trends in the use of mediated communication and offers a vision for near-future second and foreign language (L2) learning that utilizes emerging media as (a) meaningful contexts for L2 language development and (b) a means for adding real world relevance to in-class uses of internet-mediated communication tools. In this article, we first explore a sampling of Web 2.0 technologies (e.g., blogs, wikis, and social bookmarking) related to collaborative content building and dissemination of information. We then consider three types of 3-dimensional virtual environments, including open social virtualities (such as Second Life and There), massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) (e.g., World of Warcraft, Everquest, and Eve On- line), and synthetic immersive environments (SIEs, i.e., visually rendered spaces which combine aspects of open social virtualities with goal-directed gaming models to address specific learning objectives). In particular, we report on SIEs as they might be used to foster interlanguage pragmatic development and briefly report on an existing project in this area. The ultimate goal is to spark future research and pedagogical innovation in these areas of emerging digital media in order to arrive at a greater understanding of the complexities involved in their integration with language learning in ways that will be most relevant to the communicative contexts of the 21st century.