lunedì 17 aprile 2017

Outside in: bringing new technology perspectives to ELT

Tuesday 4th  April 2017

A talk about technology in ELT

I did not follow the talk which took place on 4th April but it was and it is a must do activity for every teacher. I watched the recording and I would suggest it to anyone who loves teaching and thinking about what is changing in our schools.
The topic was technology in ELT. I just found the time this week to check it and I think that what was discussed is the reality in which we are working now. There is a new world which goes beyond the walls of our schools and is outside our ELT lessons and classes.  Internet, social media and new devices have entered our life. We cannot live without our tablets and in Italy the king of the modern devices is the smartphone. 

The presenters were   Geoff Stead, Donald Clark, Paul Driver and  Yvonne Rogers. They shared their ideas about this revolution which is changing our work as educators but also the life of workers and students in the XXI century.

More than in the classroom we have learners studying on their own in virtual worlds and a lot of teachers have moved from the book to the whiteboards with internet connections, flipped learning approaches, blended learning while the new book is the ebook. Hyperlinks, Open Sources and shared documents or videos are now part of the courses and lesson plannings of the 21st Century teachers.

What is good about this revolution is the idea that we can learn outside the classroom: our students have access to online courses, MOOCs, Youtube videos and songs and music. Most of these resources are now available for free. When I started learning English I could only rely on a book and later I was given the opportunity to buy a book with some cassettes to listen to and to check the pronunciation in English. I spent hundred of pounds on buying something to listen to. Now we are provided with a lot of free materials which we can download and share online. I feel this is the advantage we should all be proud of.
Our students can be connected to people living everywhere as we have Skype and a lot of chatrooms which they can access thanks to modern devices. The smartphone is more than a mobile phone as we can work by using it and it is the memory of activities with lots of files, photos, documents and videos we have liked or viewed.  Social Media are part of this revolution: Twitter, FB and other important ones are also used in education. Anytime I do a course online I can rely on social networks for sharing ideas and it is also nice to be online and share ideas with people living all over the world!!

Having said that we have to think about some problems which are related to the use of modern technology in education. Yyonne Rogers focussed on the importance of new media as they can help us collaborate but  she pointed out that there are also some risks in using them.
I am using modern devices in class only from time to time, I have to do this as we do not have a good internet connection and my students cannot have internet for free in our school but I agree with what was said in the discussion that our students lack concentration when they work with modern devices and sometimes we need to stop using tablets as learning requires the use of modern technologies but  also concentration. We do need to continue working and thinking and it is also important to learn together not only in a virtual world. Educators can take advantage of the new tools but learning a language and mastering a foreign language requires also love and passion for learning and it is up to the teachers to create the best conditions for using the new language items.

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