Author Topic: Guidelines for Critical Reviews of Technology  (Read 3682 times)

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Offline Randall Sadler

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Guidelines for Critical Reviews of Technology
« on: January 24, 2006, 05:45:26 PM »
Critical Reviews of Technology are similar to a critical review of an article, but with a CMC twist.  For this type of review you should explore the Internet to find some tool/technology/product that you think might be useful (or not useful!) for CMC .  This might be something as simple as some website you find that encourages chat among speakers of different languages, or any other tool you discover that you believe has a potential use for CMC (including text, audio, or video).  Remember, this is a critical review, so the tool you review may not be perfect!  It is also quite possible that the tool you choose was not expressly created for the purpose of CMC as it relates to language learning.   

Your critical review should include the following sections:

Part I.  A concise description of the tool being described.  This is similar to the summary part of a critical review of an article.  Therefore, this section of your review should describe the tool, not evaluate it.  For this section you should answer the following questions:

1.     What is the “bibliographic” information for the product?  By this I mean that you should provide information that will allow your readers to find and/or potentially download the technology under review.  You should also mention who created the tool (probably a company, but perhaps an individual).
2.     How is the product described by its creators?
3.     What is the product designed to do?
4.     How do you use the product?  (This should be a step-by-step set of instructions that will let your readers understand how to use the product.  I strongly recommend the use of screen captures in your paper as part of this process.)

Part II.  The second section of your critical review is the critical part (pardon the pun).  In this section you will evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the product as it relates to CMC.  In this part of your review you should answer the following questions:
•     How easy or difficult is this product to use?  This answer should include a discussion of required technologies (Do you need a newer computer?  Do you need a high speed connection?  Do you have to download something onto your computer?  Do you need a head set or webcam?).
•     Who do you think would most benefit from using this product? 
•     How could this product be used to enhance language learning?  It is possible that the answer to this question is not discussed at all on the website for the product—answering this question will depend on your insights.  In answering this question, please give some very concrete suggestions.  For example, you might briefly discuss how an individual learner might use the technology for language learning, or you might discuss how a language instructor might make use of the technology for a CMC activity in a classroom (or between two classrooms separated by thousands of miles).

Please feel free to make additions to either of these sections!
« Last Edit: February 16, 2006, 03:42:43 PM by Randall Sadler »
Randall Sadler, Administrator, The CMCforum
Assistant Professor, Linguistics
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,  http://www.eslweb.org