Technology and Education 101


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I have been putting my fingers on the area of technology and education, lately, and I am amazed (and terrified, if I may say so) on the infinite amount of information that is out there.

Every morning I read about new apps that do almost the same things with the ones about which I read the day before. Later in the day, I read articles which argue for or against the importance of technology in education. And in the evenings, I try to apply as many new data as possible on my own online teaching practice. As of next week, I will be reading even more stuff on the role of multimedia in independent learning – this is my new module for my MA.

So, I have decided to use part of this blog as a diary both for me and for any other teacher who wished to work with technology. Not surprisingly at all, the first post will be devoted to some terminology.

The following terms are the ones with which I come into contact more often lately and even though they seem to be synonymous, only they are not:

Open Learning                                Self-Access                           Independent Learning

Distance Learning               Open Access System

One might think: Why do I need to know the exact meaning of these terms? Well, when I didn’t know their exact meanings, I was confusing them, using them interchangeably, and wasn’t able to be specific when I was discussing with a field expert (not to mention the embarrassment). What is also important is that by knowing their meaning, one gains valuable searching time. So, here it goes:

Independent Learning: “the ability to take charge of one’s own learning” (Holec, 1981)

Open Learning: “A system for educating adults where normal restrictions on entry to adult education are removed and where learners receive recognition for previous experience. Courses are organized flexibly according to the students’ needs. A number of features distinguishing open learning are: a. greater accessibility to education than with traditional courses, including accessibility in terms of academic background, age, time required, physical location and time constraints, and b. flexibility in terms of course structure and delivery with a considerable degree of learner control over pacing, contents, structure, and means of assessment. (Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics, 4th Edition)

Distance Learning: “The linking of learners and teachers in different locations and often in real time, by telephone, telecast, satellite, computer, or through the use of learning packages. (Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics, 4th Edition)

Self-Access: “The capacity of materials to be used independently by learners without the guidance of a teacher.” (Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics, 4th Edition)

Open Access System: “Part of a library, open for use by students…” (Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics, 4th Edition)

In other words, Independent Learning takes place when the learners are responsible for their studies. Open Learning takes place when adult learners are following a course, which is more flexible in relation to its admission criteria, location and time of delivery, assignment type, duration, etc. In Distant Learning, the learners are following a course the delivery of which can be anything but face-to-face.

Self-Access and Open Access System are easy ones to remember. Self-Access is the quality of a material being accessed by learners without the intervention of a teacher while Open Access System is the online part of a library that can be accessed anytime, anywhere.

Well, this is enough for now. Time to do some teaching! 🙂


Holec, H. (1981). Autonomy and Foreign Language Learning. Oxford: Pergamon.

Richards, Jack C., and Richard W. Schmidt (2010). Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics. Harlow: Longman.

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