Technology in the classroom: what do we mean?

 

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I’ve always been someone who says, “I’m interested in technology in the classroom”, and I don’t know if I’ve really taken much time to think about what that actually means.

I think what it boils down to is using the internet to connect or source content, and using a device of some kind to access content that would otherwise have been paper based.

It’s arguable that there has never been a better time to be a technophile and a teacher. IWBs, iPads and other devices, online blended learning, Edmodo groups, pronunciation apps, there’s a lot of variety of tools out there which absolutely have a real value to both teacher and learner. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to be polemical or cynical, far from it.

I just don’t think we have seen a learning environment truly integrated with technology.

Thinking about how we actually use tech as teachers, I think that the majority has been there to “replace” something else: the blended learning system to replace giving quizzes and tests for homework, the iPads to replace various reading/listening texts that would have been in a “hard” copy, the IWB to replace holding up a textbook and drawing on a standard whiteboard.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that there hasn’t been all that much of a change in interaction as a result of technology, rather the functionality of these devices and their connectivity has increased the variety and ease with which we can deliver more or less the same type of content to learners.

Technology is still this sort of alien life form we bring into the classroom to add a modern veneer to the tasks we set. A gimmick, rather than an indispensable aspect of the way we teach.

Yes, we can encourage students to connect with each other digitally, and they can research and source their own content, but those are ideas from midway through the last decade.

I’m not trying to be negative; in fact the opposite. Using technology has huge potential and we haven’t even begun to explore the possibilities of where language teaching might go. I’m particularly excited by ideas like VR, or using bots to assist in teaching/learning, and the potential for open source virtual learning environments.

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2 comments

  1. Hi David. I agree that this is something that lots of people need to think about. From teachers, to writers, publishers and software developers.

    I love this paragraph:

    “Technology is still this sort of alien life form we bring into the classroom to add a modern veneer to the tasks we set. A gimmick, rather than an indispensable aspect of the way we teach.”

    It’s such a shame, but this is still the case.

    I see that you’re interested in project-based learning as well as technology. To me, that’s where the tech could really offer a lot: students actually creating content, rather than consuming, and then building a portfolio of work.

    Glad to have found your blog.

    Like

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