Disruption and transformation
This past weekend, I travelled by train from Munich to Graz to join language experts from all over Europe at the 24th gathering of the ICC: The International Language Association, a network for promoting standards in language learning.
The title of the conference was "Language Teaching and Technology in 2020", with an emphasis on the use of "new media". For details of the conference programme, see here.
Among the many fascinating talks was one on the use of video games in language teaching by Thomas Kelly and one by Michael Carrier on automated speech recognition (ASR) and its impact on learners and teachers.
The latter talk included a most entertaining interaction with Alexa, Amazon's intelligent personal assistant. "Alexa, play Radio 4!" "Alexa, what's the weather like in Athens?" "Alexa, what's the meaning of life?" "Alexa, stop!" Alexa, it has to be said, was most acquiescent and informative, except on the meaning of life. But she's not alone there.
During the seven-hour train journey to Graz, I finished the preparations for my own talk, but was continually disrupted while doing so. First, by other passengers talking loudly, which was ironic, because they had earlier pointed out that my headphones weren't plugged in and so I was blasting music throughout the carriage. And then by the extraordinarily beautiful views out of the window, particularly between Vienna and Graz. It wasn't easy to focus.
Such disruptions were appropriate, however, because the topic of my own talk was the disruption that many organizations face to their business models as a result of digital developments. Think about the impact of Uber on the taxi business or of Airbnb on the hotel sector. Or closer to home for us, think about the impact of the internet on print products like magazines and newspapers.
To cope with such, er, challenges, many organizations, including Spotlight Verlag, are going through a process of "digital transformation". This involves changing both the nature of their products — in our case, adding e-papers, e-books, digital downloads, apps and other digital services — and also the nature of their internal organization and processes, putting a stronger emphasis on technology and technology experts.
As John Fallon, CEO of Pearson PLC, the world's largest educational publisher, has pointed out: "Education, like every other sector and sphere of life, is going through this digital transformation." And it can be a painful process, as Fallon knows: Pearson lost £2.6 billion last year, mainly the result of the decline in demand for textbooks.
The ICC itself is going through a process of transformation and recently produced the first issue of its new quarterly journal: Training, Language and Culture. The issue includes a range of excellent articles, including one by David Crystal on the need for an online cultural dictionary and one by Michael Carrier on automated speech recognition.
The journal has been published in print but also, in the spirit of digital transformation, as a PDF which you can download here. I can recommend it highly — just don't let anyone disrupt you while you are reading.
- ‹ previous
- 574 of 574
- next ›