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SYSTEM

System 34 (2006) 465–479


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Making CALL work: Towards normalisation


a,* b
Andrea Chambers , Stephen Bax
a
INSA de LYON, Humanités, Domaine scientifique de la Doua, 20, rue Albert Einstein, 69621 Villeurbanne, France
b
Department of Language Studies, Canterbury Christ Church University, North Holmes Road,
Canterbury, Kent CT11QU, England, United Kingdom

Received 22 February 2006; received in revised form 20 July 2006; accepted 15 August 2006

Abstract

The aim of CALL practitioners is to work towards a state where computers are fully integrated
into pedagogy, a state of ‘normalisation’. This article draws on a qualitative research study into two
EFL settings to discuss obstacles to normalisation and ways of overcoming them. It identifies a num-
ber of key features which appear to be significant in achieving normalisation, and relates the findings
to previous studies concerning the implementation of CALL in language teaching. The discussion
and findings should be of value to those seeking to achieve the normalisation of computer technol-
ogy in their own language teaching contexts, and also of value to those seeking to research the effec-
tiveness of CALL in other settings in qualitative mode.
Ó 2006 Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Keywords: CALL; Computers; Language teaching; Education; Normalisation; Integration

In Bax’s terms (2000, 2003), a central aim for CALL practitioners is to strive for
‘normalisation’, namely the state in which the technology is so embedded in our practice
that it ceases to be regarded as either a miracle cure-all (cf. Murray and Barnes, 1998) or
something to be feared. Bax notes that the state of normalisation will have been achieved
‘‘when computers . . . are used every day by language students and teachers as an inte-
gral part of every lesson, like a pen or a book . . . without fear or inhibition, and equally

*
Corresponding author.
E-mail addresses: andrea.emara@insa-lyon.fr, andreaemara1@yahoo.com (A. Chambers), s.bax@canterbury.
ac.uk (S. Bax).

0346-251X/$ - see front matter Ó 2006 Published by Elsevier Ltd.


doi:10.1016/j.system.2006.08.001
466 A. Chambers, S. Bax / System 34 (2006) 465–479

without an exaggerated respect for what they can do. They will not be the centre of any
lesson, but they will play a part in almost all. They will be completely integrated into all
other aspects of classroom life, alongside coursebooks, teachers and notepads. They will
go almost unnoticed.’’ (Bax, 2003, p. 23)
In this analysis, only when CALL is normalised will teachers and learners reap its
full benefits. Only when the technology is normalised, and therefore as invisible and
natural as whiteboards and pens, will it have found its proper place in language
education.
The concept of normalisation is valuable to the language teaching profession for a num-
ber of reasons. Firstly, it allows us to connect with the wider literature on educational
change (typified by Fullan’s work, e.g., 1982, 2005). since it is logical that CALL research
and thinking should draw on that research. The concept of normalisation allows us to do
this since it treats CALL as one innovation among many in education, rather than seeing it
as somehow unique.
A second advantage of the concept of normalisation is that it connects us with the
wider research on innovation and change. Research into how human beings deal with
innovations and how these operate and become integrated into daily life, typified by
the work of Rogers (1995, e.g.), is surely of value to language teaching professionals
seeking to use computers. It is undoubtedly of value for us to connect our work with
that kind of wider analysis and discussion of innovation, since a glance at Rogers’ work
shows at once many parallels and insights which could help us to make CALL more
effective. The idea of normalisation is therefore useful to language education in that it
draws on insights from that wider literature on how human beings deal with change
in general.
The third advantage of the concept, deriving from the first two, is that it offers CALL
practitioners a clear aim and therefore a clear agenda. In this light, our aim as CALL prac-
titioners is to achieve such a seamless linkage between the computer and our teaching that
the computer becomes as unremarkable in our daily practice as the pen and book. As Bax
noted in the quotation above, this will probably mean that computers will be at the centre
of no lessons, but will play a part in almost all. This in turn gives us an agenda for research
and development, namely to find ways of moving towards that normalised state.

1. How to achieve normalisation?

In order to achieve normalisation in any educational context numerous factors inevita-


bly need to be considered. These factors differ from context to context, of course, but
might include improvements in the size, design and location of the technology, in other
physical aspects of the educational setting, in timetabling and so on.
However, in the majority of contexts the most important and problematic factors pre-
venting normalisation are probably social and human. We agree with Warschauer when he
notes, in discussing a project in Egypt, that successful educational reform programmes
tend to emphasise human and social aspects rather than issues related to equipment
(Warschauer, 2003, p. 303). However, even this kind of focus on human and social aspects
may in itself be insufficient. A centrepiece of Bax’s argument concerning normalisation
(following for example Motteram, 1999) is that not only do we need to consider each rel-
evant factor, but that we also need a better understanding of how exactly all of these fac-
A. Chambers, S. Bax / System 34 (2006) 465–479 467

tors interact and operate in real pedagogical contexts, so as to throw light on the ways in
which different aspects, technological, administrative, social and others, interact to
promote or impede the normalisation of CALL. This implies a programme of appropriate
research.

2. How to research normalisation?

What should such research be like? Ideally it will be broadly based, and not overly
‘technocentric’, not focused on technology too exclusively, since, as Huh and Hu (2005)
rightly note, such studies are of limited use to researchers and practitioners. If research
of this type avoids such pitfalls, offering a broad and balanced analysis of the various fac-
tors and their interaction, it could have a local impact, in that it could lead to the better
use of CALL in the research settings themselves. It could also have a wider impact, in that
it could illuminate the ways in which these factors could be managed in other contexts. It
could thus potentially contribute also to the wider research into the ‘diffusion of innova-
tions’ (Rogers, 1995).
A particular focus of such a research agenda should be the context in which it takes
place. As Egbert rightly says, ‘‘CALL research currently does not address . . . differences
in context well’’ (Egbert, 2005, p. 4). Huh and Hu agree that the profession could benefit
from more description of the learners, settings, and events in [CALL] contexts (Huh and
Hu, 2005, p. 17). This aligns with Timucxin’s recent complaint that
‘‘there is a gap between the available literature on the use of computers and technology
for teaching purposes and experience of the actual implementation process in EFL con-
texts’’ (Timucxin, 2006, p. 262).
This focus on particular contexts should include attention to the sociocultural dimen-
sion. As Warschauerpoints out (2005), sociocultural theory offers many interesting ave-
nues into CALL research. It requires us to appreciate the fact that normalisation of
CALL requires a fuller understanding of the social and cultural aspects which underlie
its operation. This again represents a call for more research in a qualitative or even ethno-
graphic mode, attempting to take full account of sociocultural factors.

3. Aim of this research

The research project described in this article worked towards the goals described above.
Its aim was to understand, through in-depth qualitative investigation, two particular con-
texts, examining the ways in which CALL is currently used at two institutions and to
understand the reasons why it is not used more extensively. To put it another way, we
sought to identify the contextual and other factors impacting on the ‘normalisation’ of
CALL, positively or negatively, and to identify through this analysis productive ways of
moving towards normalisation in future.
In the original research on which this article is based (Chambers, 2000) a series of
recommendations were offered aiming to improve the current practice of CALL within
these two institutions. These pointed out central differences between the two sites. How-
ever, in this article, for reasons of focus and of space, we emphasise instead the com-
monalities, and also the wider issues raised, aiming to offer insights into the
468 A. Chambers, S. Bax / System 34 (2006) 465–479

implications of this research for the normalisation of CALL in similar institutional


settings.
We consider that the product of this research, namely the findings themselves, may be of
value to the wider effort to achieve normalisation, but we hope that our discussion of the
process of the research will also assist other practitioners aiming to move towards the nor-
malisation of CALL in their own settings.

4. Research approach

The research took place at two institutions based in the South-East of England at which
one of the researchers (Chambers) was working. The research approach was qualitative,
through participant observation and other means, and broadly ethnographic in style,
though a full-scale ethnography was impossible owing to the short time frame and the
impossibility of our acting as full participants in both contexts. In this sense it adopts a
position similar to that argued by Holliday (1997), in that whilst it was not a full ethnog-
raphy it is nonetheless ethnographic in orientation. This is because it adheres to the follow-
ing two criteria:

– it is conducted in an interpretive, qualitative manner ‘‘where significant features of the


culture are allowed to emerge’’ (Holliday, 1997, p. 213);
– there is no claim to objectivity. ‘‘The scientific rigour and system are in the discipline of
researcher procedure which comprises tight rules concerning how the researcher relates
to and writes about the research environment’’ (Holliday, 1997, p. 213).

The research was therefore ethnographic to this extent; it set out initially to elicit ‘emic’
perspectives (Holliday, 1997), meaning perspectives deriving from the participants them-
selves rather than from the researchers – although, as we have noted, one of us was an
insider also.
The data collected in the study included observations of classes, informal conversations,
field notes and other documents, and interviews with a range of teachers and with all other
stakeholders who might potentially shed light on the current practice of CALL at the
institution.

5. Research settings

Site 1: Site 1 was a university Language Centre located 5 min from the main campus
and computer rooms, most of which had Internet connections. There was a Help desk
on campus, and a 1 h CALL class option was held weekly. All teachers had over 10
years’ experience, had some knowledge of computer applications and all except one
had some type of CALL experience. CALL in this setting used mainly web-based activ-
ities, CD-ROMs and a few older pieces of software such as Storyboard.
Site 2: The second site was a government funded college. The computer laboratory
(called the Multimedia learning centre or MMLC) was located in the same building
as the classrooms. At the time of the research, CALL was offered in the form of a
self-access option once a week in which students could choose to use the MMLC under
A. Chambers, S. Bax / System 34 (2006) 465–479 469

the guidance of tutors. All teachers had used some CALL software in the past, and used
mainly web-based activities and CD-ROMs.

6. Interviews

As noted above, the data derived from a variety of sources. However, we have chosen
here to privilege data deriving from the voices of the participants themselves, because find-
ings from these data are the most illuminating. It should be noted, however, that the find-
ings we report are representative of the data as a whole (as can be seen by reference to
Chambers, 2000).
An important part of the study was to gather the views of stakeholders without imposing
our own views. To this end the interviews were conducted following an open format sche-
dule adapted from Maykut and Morehouse (1994), and addressed teachers’ perceptions,
attitudes and knowledge of CALL, location, access and layout, resources, teacher develop-
ment, management and the future of CALL, as well as the current use of computers at the
institution, whilst allowing as much scope as possible for other issues of importance to
stakeholders to emerge. Open interviews, taking around an hour each, were conducted with
nine teachers and the Director of Studies at the site of Case study 1, and five teachers, the
Director of Studies, the Resource centre co-ordinator and the college principal at Site 2.
The institution and teachers were assured of anonymity and for this reason teachers in Site
1 are referred to as A, B, C etcetera on, while in Site 2 they are referred to as 1, 2, 3 etcetera.

7. Findings

Since from the outset we noted that CALL was not part of ‘normal’ everyday practice
in either institution, and was still ‘‘contributing to the marginal rather than the central ele-
ments’’ of the pedagogy (Kenning and Kenning, 1990, p. 90), the aim of our research was
to find out why this was so, in line with the research agenda outlined in our opening pages.
We will now present the main findings of the research, and will indicate the main factors
which seemed to be impeding normalisation. These are highlighted for easy reference. We
have clustered the issues into four groups, as follows:

A. Logistics
B. Stakeholders’ conceptions, knowledge and abilities
C. Syllabus and software integration
D. Training, development and support

We will then offer some general observations on the wider implications of this research
for our understanding of normalisation.

7.1. Logistics

7.1.1. Location and access


In Site 1 the computer laboratories were a 5-min walk from the college. This distance,
though small, was perceived as contributing to the failure to integrate CALL fully as it was
470 A. Chambers, S. Bax / System 34 (2006) 465–479

‘a bit of a faff [problem] going all the way over there’ (teacher B). Another problem, com-
mon to many institutions around the world, was that of gaining access to the computer
rooms. In Site 1, the Director of Studies (DOS) and teacher A claimed that the system
of booking out the rooms was ‘a very complicated process’ (the DOS) and that the rooms
were also in demand from other departments. Similarly, teachers in Site 2 mentioned how
difficult it was to book out the MMLC as it was also used for examination classes, tuto-
rials and staff training. Teacher 4 said that as the room was always booked she had given
up trying.
In such cases, as Lynch (1991, p. 4) points out, ‘work is built around the computer
instead of arising from the needs of language’ or indeed as in the case of this teacher,
results in their giving up altogether. This reinforces the point made by Levy (1997, p.
201) who concludes that institutions often attend to the ‘logical problems’ (i.e. what work
will be done on the computer) but fail to pay attention to the ‘physical problems’ (i.e. loca-
tion and access) and that this ‘prevents the effective integration of CALL work into the
broader curriculum’ (Levy, 1997, p. 201).We can express this as follows:
Issue 1: For normalisation to take place, CALL facilities will ideally not be separated
from ‘normal’ teaching space.

7.1.2. Layout
As well as the questions of location and access, findings from Site 1 showed that the
layout of the centre was not well suited to classroom activities:
You want to be able to talk while they are working on the computer but you can’t see
their faces and they can’t see yours. . . . you can’t see what they are doing. It’s very dif-
ficult to manage the class. (Teacher 1)
The layout of the rooms in each site differed considerably. Whereas the room layout in
Site 1 (see Fig. 1) is similar to most classrooms, that in Site 2 (Fig. 2) is more similar to a
self-access centre. This second layout did not discourage computer use, but nonetheless
appeared to encourage more of the ‘computer as tutor’ type of CALL (Warschauer,
1996) than to allow for more integrated uses. This may therefore be another central issue
impeding normalisation:
Issue 2: For normalisation to occur, the classroom will ideally be organised so as to allow
for an easy move from CALL activities to non-CALL activities.

7.1.3. Lack of time


Teachers at both sites reported lack of time for preparation as a major factor preventing
computer use in their teaching, mirroring Jones’ point that:
‘‘what really prevents teachers from following an interest in CALL is lack of time, since
they tend to be sufficiently burdened already by their conventional administrative and
classroom duties’’ (Jones, 2001, p. 365)
However, since this was linked with a host of other factors, it would be simplistic to
identify lack of time alone as a central problem. We can express this in general terms as
a key issue here, to be taken up further below:
A. Chambers, S. Bax / System 34 (2006) 465–479 471

a b
P P

Whiteboard Whiteboard

c
P

Student
Teacher

Computer

Computers in use

P Printer

Whiteboard

Fig. 1. Case study 1: lesson observation and room layout.

Issue 3: For teachers to ‘normalise’ computer use within their daily practice, they may
need additional time for preparation and planning.
We can turn now to ‘conceptual’ and ‘knowledge’ issues which represented obstacles to
normalisation.
472 A. Chambers, S. Bax / System 34 (2006) 465–479

Multimedia Learning centre Site 2

Exam Practice

Videos
Songs
Tapes
Books

c c
S C
c List
of
web
T c
sites
c
T c CD-ROMS
Students and videos

Teachers c c c

C-Computers
c T c
T-Televisions
P
S-Scanner
P-Printer

Fig. 2. Multimedia Learning centre Site 2.

7.2. Stakeholders’ conceptions, knowledge and abilities

7.2.1. Worries, expectations and misunderstandings


Although most teachers were fairly competent computer users, some were apprehensive
about using computers, feeling that students might know more about technology than they
did, causing them to ‘lose face’ (DOS, Site 2).
Other teachers appeared confused by the very notion of a ‘CALL’ lesson. For example,
teacher F argued against using computers in EFL teaching, since it was not ‘learning Eng-
lish’ but ‘learning about computers’. Other noteworthy misconceptions included the view
that CALL necessarily means placing students in front of computers for entire lessons with
no role for the teacher. These findings suggest that an obstacle to normalisation could be
the conceptual base which teachers bring into class with them, which we take up further
below (Issue 5).
Concerning students’ perceptions, it was noted that there could be some resistance from
students to computer assisted lessons, for reasons articulated by Teacher F:
‘What do you come to England for if the end result is that you interact with the com-
puter? What am I paying for here that I can’t get in my country? I’m paying to have a
native speaker who talks to me, who interacts with me.’
These conceptions on the part of teachers and students about what CALL is, and what
the role of the computer could be, could all be obstacles to normalisation. However,
besides teachers’ conceptions and worries, it was clear that the perception of CALL in
the minds of management was also a significant obstacle. The principal in Site 2, for exam-
A. Chambers, S. Bax / System 34 (2006) 465–479 473

ple, was reluctant to ask teachers to do CALL and compared the use of computers to the
language laboratory, believing that it was ‘just another phase’ that would disappear in a
few years:
We had all of this with the language laboratory. People saying ‘wow, this is the thing
that will revolutionise English teaching’ but it didn’t. That’s how I see the computer, so
I don’t see why it’s necessary to make teachers do CALL. (Informal conversation)
It is clear that if management holds such views, it will be a serious obstacle to successful
normalisation.
We can summarise as follows:
Issue 4: For normalisation to take place, teachers and managers need to have enough
knowledge of and ability with computers to feel confident in using them.
Issue 5: Normalisation requires that conceptions on the part of different stakeholders,
including teachers and management, concerning the role of computers in language learning
be of a type conducive to integration and normalisation.

7.2.2. Monitoring and evaluation


Another thing that emerged from interviews with teachers and the DOS in both case
studies was the absence of any evaluation of current practice. In Site 2 there was some evi-
dence of evaluation, but this was limited to evaluation of hardware and software, with a
series of recommendations on what types of equipment were needed to improve current
practice. Relatively neglected was evaluation of pedagogical dimensions.
This emphasis in the evaluation process on the physical aspects was mirrored by the fact
that recommendations for purchasing new equipment focussed heavily on hardware and
software, and such recommendations came exclusively from the computer ‘experts’. Other
teachers said they had not been consulted. In both of these areas, therefore, the underlying
assumption seemed to be that problems in CALL could be solved by the purchase of more
hardware and software.
This belief that the technology is the sole or main determinant in successful teaching is
typical of the ‘technical fallacy’ described by Bax (2000, p. 3), and may result in equipment
being ‘misused’ or ‘underused’ because of teachers’ over-reliance on the technology (Hea-
ley (1998, p. 2). Furthermore, this keeps CALL in the ‘domain’ of the CALL experts, act-
ing as an obstacle to normalisation (see Levy, 1997, p. 3).
The data suggested to us that in these institutions it might in future be more pro-
ductive if teachers made more effective use of what the centre already had. In other
words, teacher development might be more effective than simply assuming that the
solution was to focus on buying more technology. To borrow from Tudor’s terminol-
ogy (2003), these institutions could aim for ‘ecological’ solutions rather than ‘techno-
logical’ ones.
Issue 6: If CALL is to be normalised, teachers and managers need to avoid the ‘techni-
cal fallacy’, namely the view that the main determinant of success or failure is the hardware
and software, or any other single factor. They will be aware that the success of CALL in
their classrooms depends on several interconnected factors, all of which may need to be
considered.
We can now turn to look at our third set of issues, relating to integration.
474 A. Chambers, S. Bax / System 34 (2006) 465–479

7.3. Syllabus and software integration

7.3.1. Syllabus integration


CALL was not obligatory for teachers or students in either institution. The DOS in Site
1 was reluctant to make CALL compulsory as most teachers would reportedly be unhappy
if ‘forced’ to include CALL. However, Teachers C, G, and I said that this would not be a
problem for them. In Site 2 only one teacher was positive about CALL being timetabled
into current teaching practice. This could be because she was a younger teacher, keen to
develop, and felt that this would push her into doing more CALL preparation for her les-
sons. Nevertheless, she believed a policy such as this would meet with a lot of resistance.
She explained:
I am not ‘ageist’ but for many older teachers the computer isn’t part of their life and
they may resent having to do that. From their point of view they’ve been teaching that
way all their life. Why should they change?
This is related of course to attitudes, as discussed above. In our view the fact that, in
common with many institutions, CALL teaching at Site 1 was restricted to a ‘CALL
option’ in itself assumes and implies that computers are somehow ‘alien’ to normal teach-
ing processes, and this timetabling decision is therefore likely to impede normalisation. It
certainly appeared to us from the data that separating CALL from other lessons did
indeed promote a limiting perception of the value of CALL in the minds of teachers
and learners. So long as CALL is treated as something ‘abnormal’ it will not be fully
effective.
This leads us to the view that without the integration of CALL fully into the syllabus,
so that each teacher comes to accept it as part of normal everyday teaching and learning,
CALL may never become normalised. This issue has been considered before (see e.g.
McCarthy, 2001; Gillespie and McKee, 1999) but in our view it needs more attention
and we will therefore consider its implications in greater detail in our concluding remarks
below. For the moment, we can summarise it as follows:
Issue 7: Successful normalisation of CALL requires that it be properly integrated into the
syllabus, and support provided for teachers who may be uneasy about their new roles.

7.3.2. Software integration: the internet and CD-ROMs


All teachers except one saw the potential advantages of using the internet in classes and
felt students enjoyed it. In practice, however, the observation data showed that only three
teachers of the fourteen appeared to be making use of the computer as a teaching tool, and
these were all teachers from Site 1. This is partly owing to the conceptual and knowledge
issues raised above: in Site 2, most teachers interviewed felt they did not have sufficient
knowledge of CALL activities, especially the Internet, and they felt that they did not have
sufficient knowledge to ‘construct a class’ (teacher 4). However, it is also connected with a
different issue, namely the extent to which the software itself could ‘fit’ the pedagogical
aspects of the lesson.
This can be illustrated by the negative views of teachers towards CD-ROMs. The
majority of teachers maintained that students became quickly bored when they were used.
One reason for this was a ‘conceptual’ one – namely the view that CD-ROMs could be
used as a substitute for a whole lesson or were at best a disconnected activity used for what
teacher I called ‘a relaxing period’. For example, Teacher 1 in Site 2 criticised the way
A. Chambers, S. Bax / System 34 (2006) 465–479 475

computers are used at her institution and explained why students might not be finding the
CD-ROMs useful:
‘Well, it is ‘these are the CALL programs off you go’. The potential is greater than
that. . . you know ‘mouse potato’ methodology. ‘Go and plug yourself in and away
you go’. No wonder they get bored!’
This remark illustrated what in our view was the root of the problem – the lack of inte-
gration between syllabus aims and computing tools, partly caused by shortcomings in
available software. Since the CD-ROMs offered a ‘closed’ programme unrelated to the rest
of what teachers and student were teaching and learning, they did not perceive it as par-
ticularly valuable and lost interest (cf. Sharma, 1999, p. 2).
In essence this means that software which is ‘authorable’, so that the teacher can
adapt and modify its content to allow a better fit with the syllabus, is likely to be more
effective. This is to put the pedagogy before the technology, in the sense that instead of
learners having to do to ‘closed’ ‘ready-made’ activities which may not in fact meet their
needs (giving technology priority), they could with authorable software do activities tai-
lored for them by the teacher (giving priority to learning needs). This can be summarised
as follows:
Issue 8: Progress towards normalisation may be enhanced by the use of ‘authorable’
CALL materials which allow teachers to tailor the CALL activities better to fit the existing
syllabus aims, as opposed to the use of imported ‘closed’ materials.
We now turn to our fourth set of issues, relating to training and development.

7.4. Training, development and support

7.4.1. Teacher development


According to Eastment (1999), lack of training is one reason why the Internet is not
extensively used in current practice. Most teachers interviewed said they would like some
sort of teacher development in CALL, but workshops were not perceived as the whole
answer. As Teacher G saw it:
I did a number of teacher development sessions. People were generally enthusiastic and
they came along . . . I would say only one eighth did something.
In Site 2, all the teachers mentioned that they were eager for more teacher development
on CALL but did not have much time. The DOS confirmed this and indicated that he was
reluctant to run sessions, as there would not be ‘much interest for a long course’. This indi-
cated a certain reluctance for training sessions.
One reason for this may be that, as McKenzie (1999, p. 1) notes, workshops and train-
ing courses are often ‘designed by technology enthusiasts’ who have ‘little empathy for the
reluctants’. Our findings suggest also that teacher development might be more productive
if it is carried out in collaborative mode, as opposed to top-down ‘training’ mode.
Issue 9: If CALL is to be normalised, teacher training and development may best be
offered in collaborative mode rather than in ‘top-down’ expert-to-novice mode.
One way of doing this is to see development not in terms of training workshops but as
an ongoing process, possibly through the formation of teams of ‘experts’ working with
‘non-experts’. This is also recommended by Guile (1998) who claims that the development
of support teams in the ACOT project (Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow) helped to
476 A. Chambers, S. Bax / System 34 (2006) 465–479

encourage professional growth, ‘‘focussed on the development of new learning processes


that [teachers] can use in their classrooms’’ (Guile, 1998, p. 27).
However, it is important to note again that an emphasis on training and development
without any attempt to deal with the many other factors identified in our research will
almost certainly not lead to normalisation in itself.

7.4.2. Dealing with technical problems


In both case studies teachers complained about the unreliability of the technology. In
Site 1 four teachers had had problems with the technology and felt that students would
hold the teacher responsible (e.g. Teacher B). Teacher G, however, who had more experi-
ence of computers and CALL, seemed less anxious about the technology failing him, and
felt that teachers should go into the lessons expecting problems, and that they could solve
them if they had ‘‘a keenness to solve problems and a willingness to solve them by non-
technical means [for example] by moving the students’’.
Fear of the technology ‘going wrong’ was also evident in Site 2. All the teachers inter-
viewed talked of the computer crashing, freezing or being slow. Teachers 1 and 2 men-
tioned the need to have a lesson in reserve in case something went wrong (cf. Eastment,
1999, p. 45 on the ‘wise teacher’ having a ‘back up activity’). For teachers these are not
‘minor problems’ in the way suggested by, for example, Jarvis (1997, p. 49). The data in
our study showed that this was a significant factor in deterring teachers from CALL.
Issue 10: Successful normalisation requires that teachers’ concerns about technical fail-
ures, and their lack of skills to deal with such failures, be addressed and overcome by means
of reliable support and encouragement.
Although the available technical support seemed adequate for more technically profi-
cient teachers it was not sufficient for all. As can be seen from a number of comments
made by teachers above (e.g. in Section 7.2.1), it was clear that pedagogical support would
also be helpful:
Issue 11: Technical assistance is important, but is insufficient on its own in supporting
teachers towards fully normalising technology in their teaching. Teachers need pedagogical
support also.

8. Conclusion: how can CALL become normalised and therefore fully effective?

In these two settings our research has identified a number of factors, which we discussed
under these headings:

A. Logistics
B. Stakeholders’ conceptions, knowledge and abilities
C. Syllabus and software integration
D. Training, development and support.

We reported in some detail on how aspects of each setting under each heading may be
impeding normalisation, and the eleven major findings shared by the two sites were then
identified (and have been collected together for reference in Appendix A). Where relevant,
we indicated where this research relates to findings from other contexts, but our research
also offers new insights into a number of factors, which come through most vividly in the
participants’ own voices.
A. Chambers, S. Bax / System 34 (2006) 465–479 477

Furthermore, the research highlights the fact that each factor is not isolated; our
research has demonstrated the ways in which the various factors interact and relate to
one another, and how in working towards normalisation it is therefore important to
address more than one factor at a time, taking account of the ‘ecological complexity’ of
the whole context in each case. Since, as is clear from our findings, each factor links with
each other factor in complex ways, this research does not support the use of ‘technological’
‘one-shot’ solutions (cf. Tudor, 2003).
Besides the local value of this research, moreover, our findings also offer wider insights
into what could be done to make CALL normalised at these and other institutions. If asked
to identify one crucial factor, we would emphasise syllabus integration. This for us means
the need to integrate CALL into the syllabus in such a way that teachers are expected, as
often as the facilities allow, to use computers in their teaching. This implies that manage-
ment needs to timetable every teacher to use the computers regularly. This need not be
expressed in a coercive way, but should be an expectation. In our view, if that expectation
is not there, teachers will simply not move towards integrating CALL into their work.
As a quid pro quo, however, management need to ensure that the other elements are also
operative. In particular teachers need to have sympathetic support, both technical and
pedagogical; they need the opportunity for sympathetic development, probably in collab-
orative mode; they need computing facilities to be accessible and organised in ways con-
ducive to the easy integration of computer activities with non-computer activities; they
need the software to be authorable as far as possible so that teachers can fit the software
to their students’ particular needs. Since time has been identified above as a significant fac-
tor impeding teachers in their use of new technologies, this factor must also be borne in
mind by administrators and managers in their planning (Issue 3).
In summary, we have therefore identified through the research study the central factors
which we consider to be essential for normalisation to occur. We suggest that the eleven
issues we have presented could offer a valuable checklist of elements which teachers and
planners could consider when attempting to make CALL more effective.
In addition, our study demonstrates ways in which research of this kind can have a local
impact. We consider it of value for teachers and other stakeholders, where possible, to
carry out small-scale qualitative research similar to ours into their own settings, as a
way of discovering which factors could be impeding normalisation, and how those factors
may relate to each other (cf. Bax, in press).
Such local research can also have a wider relevance. We suggest that by relating each of
the findings to other literature on CALL in language education we have shown how such
research can assist in the wider endeavour of understanding how normalisation can be
achieved in language education generally. It can therefore contribute towards our common
aim – to achieve a seamless and normalised use of CALL for the benefit of our learners.

1. Issues significant in the normalisation of CALL

A. Logistics
Issue 1: For normalisation to take place, CALL facilities will ideally not be separated
from ‘normal’ teaching space.
Issue 2: For normalisation to occur, the classroom will ideally be organised so as to
allow for an easy move from CALL activities to non-CALL activities.
478 A. Chambers, S. Bax / System 34 (2006) 465–479

Issue 3: For teachers to ‘normalise’ computer use within their daily practice, they
may need additional time for preparation and planning.
B. Stakeholders’ conceptions, knowledge and abilities
Issue 4: For normalisation to take place, teachers and managers need to have
enough knowledge of and ability with computers to feel confident in using them.
Issue 5: Normalisation requires that conceptions on the part of different stakehold-
ers, including teachers and management, concerning the role of computers in lan-
guage learning be of a type conducive to integration and normalisation.
Issue 6: If CALL is to be normalised, teachers and managers need to avoid the ‘tech-
nical fallacy’, namely the view that the main determinant of success or failure is the
hardware and software, or any other single factor. They will be aware that the suc-
cess of CALL in their classrooms depends on several interconnected factors, all of
which may need to be considered.
C. Syllabus and software integration
Issue 7: Successful normalisation of CALL requires that it be properly integrated
into the syllabus, and support provided for teachers who may be uneasy about their
new roles.
Issue 8: Progress towards normalisation may be enhanced by the use of ‘authorable’
CALL materials which allow teachers to tailor the CALL activities better to fit the
existing syllabus aims, as opposed to the use of imported ‘closed’ materials.
D. Training, development and support
Issue 9: If CALL is to be normalised, teacher training and development may best be
offered in collaborative mode rather than in ‘top-down’ expert-to-novice mode.
Issue 10: Successful normalisation requires that teachers’ concerns about technical
failures, and their lack of skills to deal with such failures, be addressed and overcome
by means of reliable support and encouragement.
Issue 11: Technical assistance is important, but is insufficient on its own in support-
ing teachers towards fully normalising technology in their teaching. Teachers need
pedagogical support also.

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