School of Education
December 1, 2009
Brazilian Scholar Studies Impact of Online Learning on Language Teaching
“Education is living a social revolution, not a technological one.”
Dr. Vilson Leffa came to UC Irvine as a visiting scholar on a joint project with Professor Mark Warschauer to investigate the impact of online interaction on language teaching. Dr. Leffa lives in Southern Brazil and works for the Catholic University of Pelotas. He was twice president of the Applied Linguistics Association of Brazil (ALAB), and has conducted research on reading, writing and foreign language policies with articles and books published both in Portuguese and English. More recently, he has concentrated his efforts on the study of new technologies, including computer-mediated learning and distance education.
Dr. Leffa has three children and one grandson, all living in Brazil, near Porto Alegre, which is in the very South of the country, with cold and rainy winters and occasional snows on the hills.
Of course, this is the land of soccer and carnival, but there are many other things too, including all the problems of large metropolitan areas.
According to him, Brazil is now living a good moment, with still lots of things to do, but with the expectation that they will finally be done.
I am an incorrigible optimist and I believe my grandson will be living in a much better world than the one we have lived up to now.
Dr. Leffa is enjoying his experience at UC Irvine very much.
Although it is not exactly a break from what I do every day, I have a chance to spend a little more time doing research, which is something I enjoy very much. In that sense, I am a workaholic.
Dr. Leffa believes we are moving from a competition-based society to one based on mass collaboration, not only in the economy but also mainly in education and learning.
The Internet has demonstrated, for the first time in History, that solidarity is a stronger force than competition. Wikipedia, for example, has become a more important source of information than traditional encyclopedias, not because it is free, but because it is more comprehensive and practically as reliable. We get more information from free sources than paid ones, and we seem to learn more outside than inside the classroom.
We still talk too much about the technology, but with time the technology will become invisible and we will focus only on the people who use it and what they have to say. The Internet does not connect machines but people, as put by Michael Wesch, from Kansas State University. The idea, prevailing in the area now, is that we are living not a technological but a social revolution.