In the preface, the authors introduced the research that has led to this book as resulting from a combination of social, political, didactic and pedagogic pressures. The industrialization of knowledge was seen as a challenge that went with the end of the prevailing amateurism in the design and development of online materials and environments. Irrespective of the forms they take, considering such environments as psycho-social constructs entailed the necessity to problematize the use of ICT for language learning purposes. On the one hand, this meant understanding the nature of ICT and distance as well as the nature of their relationships with the various components of the language learning situation. On the other hand, it meant providing suggestions for the design and development of soundly constructed environments. Such questioning therefore involved revisiting accepted theories in traditional language learning settings and reassessing the roles of the various actors, as well as making sure that no component would remain unnoticed. A need emerged for a comprehensive conceptual framework offering a better grasp of the complexity of the situation. Traditional analytical descriptions of language learning are based on typologies that help identify the actors and components involved in distance language learning but that do not necessarily take into account their dynamic nature. As a result, such descriptions tend to be prescriptive and often fail to reflect the changes brought about by innovations of all sorts (such as technological or pedagogic), by socio-organizational changes or by their own dynamic nature.

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