Here’s an idea that some of my colleagues at CORE have been contemplating for a while now – so it’s not surprising to see italki.com emerge! italki.com is where you can find everything you need to learn a language. Essentially it is a social network and an online resource for learning foreign languages. italki has a new version – featuring italki Knowledge, a source of free language learning textbooks. Now users can work together on creating an open source textbook using videos, pictures, sound and text. According to the press release, italki now has over 200,000 members and is growing rapidly. The site has also been translated into 14 languages and we plan to add more soon. italki.com also has has many other features including Finding a language partner, italki Answers (where users can ask questions), and groups.
In an increasingly globalised world where the ability to converse in a range of languages is becoming important, this site provides a useful resource for those wanting to learn a foreign language, but, more significantly from my point of view, it provides a useful insight into how the traditional approach to distance education may be changing – from the paradigm of teacher (expert) delivering to students (learners) to members of the community teaching and supporting each other, with the resources being developed using a collaborative wiki where all users are a part of the editing community. Certainly a long way from the days of traditional correspondence education where the resources were developed by the experts and delivered to those wanting to learn.