Language Education Policy Studies
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Technology Use as Language Education Policy 

Thirty years ago, the report on A Nation at Risk (1983) made its recommendations for the entry of educational technologies in the school system. Since then we have witnessed a push towards a convergent global culture that establishes standards and technology-based policies around the world. Regardless, idiosyncratic and complex dynamics react in subtle and less subtle ways to such impulses and operate to maintain the divergent aspects that characterize the local culture. Critical systems theory inherited from Aristotle and Kant the notion that instrumentality has to be superseded by practical reasoning and theoretical wisdom (Habermas, 1985; Fuenmayor, 1991). It is clear that technologies are always used with reflection and wisdom in our societies. A similar situation occurs in learning contexts. Technologies are pushed for the sake of increasing the learning potential but they may not always be chosen with prudence and wisdom. Here are a two examples.


1) For preservice teachers attempting to utilize technology in classroom settings, developing this environmental responsiveness is an area of struggle. Palacio-Cayetano, Schmier, Dexter, and Stevens (2002) found that preservice teachers lag behind experienced in-service teachers in conceptualizing how technology must be adapted to—rather than be imposed upon—a classroom context. Student teachers prefer teacher-centered uses of technology (Wang, 2002). Meskill, Mossop, DiAngelo & Pasquale (2002) further note the difficulty preservice teachers using technology have in focusing on student learning, adapting activities when technical difficulties arise, and in organizing student-centered, process-oriented learning.


2) In a related note, similar integrative dissonance is also evident as preservice teachers develop their portfolios (Breault, 2004). Portfolio compositions contain artifacts that are supposed to provide evidence of teacher mastery.  However they risk becoming glossy showcases while substance and reflection should be the focus. For their portfolios, student teachers must find or create and comment teaching and learning artifacts into compositions that match the teacher education standards, often derived from the INTASC standards, and some of the 5 ACTFL standards (the 5C’s). For example, students may need a minimum of two portfolio compositions per standard to be certifiable. From 2015 in the U.S., the evaluation requirements will be selected and applied by Pearson, a private company, for the whole country. Artifacts can be pictures, learner’s works, evaluations, observation reports, audio or video files, etc. In a sense, students will be ‘guilty of incompetence before proven competent’: in the electronic portfolio system, the charge of the proof is on their side.  Learning how to build e-portfolios takes much time, a time that is taken out of the Methods courses in which specific assignments and meetings target the portfolio construction. There is a great chance that proficiency will be confused with the proficiency indicator, and skills in web design may show up as teaching competency.


These are two examples suggesting that technology use has been integrated into language education policies and may have a direct or an indirect impact on language learning, teaching, and teacher education.



  • Breault, R.A. (2004). Dissonant Themes in Preservice Portfolio Development. Teaching and Teacher Education, 20(8),  847-859.
  • Fuenmayor, R. (1991). The roots of reductionism: A counter ontoepistemology for a systems approach. Systems Practice, 4(5), 419-48.
  • Habermas, Jürgen (1985). Theorie des kommunikativen Handels, 3rd Ed. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp Verlag.
  • Meskill, C., Mossop, J., DiAngelo, S., & Pasquale, R. K. (2002). Expert and novice teachers talking technology: Precepts, concepts, and misconcepts. Language Learning & Technology, 6(3), 46–57.
  • Palacio-Cayetano, J., Schmier, S., Dexter, S., & Stevens, R. (2002, June). Experience counts: Comparing inservice and preservice teachers’ technology-integration decisions. Paper presented at the National Educational Computing Conference, San Antonio, TX.
  • Tochon, F. V., & Black, N. J. (2007). Narrative analysis of electronic portfolios: preservice teachers’ struggles in researching pedagogically appropriate technology integration. CALICO Monograph Series “Preparing and developing technology-proficient L2 teachers”, 6, 295-320.
  • Wang, Y. (2002). From teacher-centredness to student-centredness: Are preservice teachers making the conceptual shift when teaching in information age classrooms? Educational Media International, 39(3–4), 257–265.


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This information was originally published on the website of the International Network for Language Education Policy Studies ( as

Tochon, F. V. (2013). Technology Use as Language Education Policy. In F. V. Tochon (Ed.), Language Education Policy Studies (online). Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin—Madison. Retrieved from: (access date). 

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