Much has been written and said about how technology has revolutionized and will continue to revolutionize the world of education and most especially the language teaching industry.
From the time I used a vinyl record which was upgraded to a cassette tape, then VHS and VCR to CDs and DVDs to online streaming, podcasts and YouTube, the means to expose students to a brave new world seem limitless.
But… how much has it changed for educators? Ok, I remember once I had to carry a portable record player on the bus to share a song with my very first English learners back in 1985/1986. Now I can carry the world in my mobile and so can the students. But what can we do with this amazing new world and how to access all this potential or at least some of it? Where can you find relevant material? How can you use it?
A study involving 240 MA education graduates in the US and Canada revealed that 50% of them received no form of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) training. And 70% were not prepared to teach the language using technology.
Being a teacher in the 21st Century involves much more than having the latest gadget: projectors, intelligent whiteboards, high-speed internet, etc.
Teachers have to keep up with changes in
- Student performance standards
- New teaching approaches
- How to make the most out of educational technology
There is still a huge gap between theory and practice with all the risks and problems that accompany the adoption of new technologies.
Technology today is broadly used for:
- Downloading relevant material
- Word processing
- Different data show /PowerPoint resources
- Voice and video recording
- Even the humble email /text messaging
- Exposure to authentic language
- Dictionary / translation tools
- Language practice using Siri or any other voice-activated personal assistant
- Waze and other apps (Waze is a community-driven GPS and navigational app which can be set to the language the student is learning and needs practice with)
Technology is still rarely used in:
- Mind-mapping, in case you’re wondering what mind mapping is (I had no clue either): According to Wikipedia “mind map is an easy way to brainstorm thoughts organically without worrying about order and structure. It allows you to visually structure your ideas to help with analysis and recall.
- Education blogs; and
- Voice threads (“VoiceThread is a totally web-based application that allows you to place collections of media like images, videos, documents, and presentations at the center of an asynchronous conversation“).
Why is it that most teachers are hesitant to integrate ICT?
Fear! Fear of what? Of losing control. Of making mistakes. Of “breaking” the equipment or program.
So, in addition to having access to technology teachers must be trained in how to best use the technology at their disposal, be offered technical support and troubleshooting solutions.
When given control, good teachers will be excited and curious about adopting the latest technologies.