Technology has affected all the aspects of our life and pedagogy is not an exception. The use of technology in teaching English as second or foreign language (ESL/EFL) has an immense value. Before I conclude this blog entry with the importance of technology in ESL or EFL classroom suggesting the integration of technology into pedagogy, I will share my reflections on the online teacher training course offered by an American University (I have recently attended) and experience of integrating technology into pedagogy. I believe such sharing based on both the reflection and the experience of learning and using technology in the classroom through this blog entry will be worthwhile motivating the readers especially the teachers to introduce and integrate technology in the classroom for effective teaching learning activities.
Reflection on Online Teacher Training Course
A couple of months ago, I attended an online teacher training course titled Building Teaching Skills through the Interactive Web’ offered by the University of Oregon, USA.
I spent altogether 10 weeks for this course, which gave me lots of inputs to use technology into the classroom. The course was designed so systematic and practical in the sense that I had to do lots of assignments. Creating professional blog, nicenet and wiki classroom were the most useful tasks assigned to me. As a result, this web skill course enhanced me searching for innovative ideas.
First, I have bookmarked useful websites in my delicious bookmarking page. Like the name of the host page, this which encompasses the bookmarks of useful websites, offers really delicious tips for teaching and learning. Then, I created my blog on blogger, where I have shared my ideas, experience, reflections and learning. I found that using blog is an effective means for sharing ideas and professional development. Nik Peachey, freelance learning technology consultant, trainer and writer has developed learning technology blog (click here) which combines video tutorial with pedagogical suggestions to help teachers exploit free web based technologies. Likewise, Peachey (2011) says, this blog and also this are useful blogs for the teachers’ professional development. I have used them and found very much useful for enhancing my professional career as Yadav (2011) argues that blogging is a helpful technique supporting the professional development of English language teachers largely through collaborative learning. He further adds that the blogging helps in building networks among English language teachers and promoting professional dialogues. Using technology in learning was a great opportunity for me to share experiences, knowledge, thoughts or plans with teachers of the same interest around the globe.
The use of nicenet is equally useful for organizing online English project which helps to run parallel to face to face tutorials. This is all about virtual English classroom. This web tool is useful for organizing interactions among the participants around the globe, link sharing, uploading information, sending the personal message to tutors and others. Learning technology for teaching and experience of integrating technology into teaching has realised me the fact that I am in novice stage and I need to update myself with the changing need of technologies as per the demand of the time.
My experience of integrating technology with teaching
It was difficult for me to introduce technology in the classroom because there was no internet connection and lack of computer in the school. However, I used my own laptop without internet connection in the class for teaching and learning. I had already figured out how I could incorporate it into my lessons and it was—listening activities. First I connected speakers with my laptop and then played the audio materials related with lesson, which I had already downloaded at home. I found the students really enjoyed my lesson which was different from previous times. When asked them what they had learned, majority of them replied the correct pronunciation. They further added that they felt difficult to listen to the sound but later they easily understood. After I got back from the class, I downloaded more different listening activities, authentic speeches, and sometimes captured radio programs using internet at home. For example, I have used this website, as it consists of different communicative exercises and these were helpful for making the classroom more interactive and recreational. Moreover, I have downloaded and used different games, riddles with the help of internet to make my teaching more interesting.
After I have used technology into the classroom, I found that students’ motivation and interest has increased in a greater amount, making a difference when compared to the classroom without technology. Now I realised that it is useful for revealing the great potentiality of the students and bringing a variety of changes.
Importance of technology in the classroom
Using technology in the classroom does not only associate with the PowerPoint presentation but also the use of different web tools for teaching and learning four language skills; listening, speaking, reading and writing. The use of technology shows the teaching and learning is not only limited within the periphery of the classroom but the teacher can do many more beyond the classroom using blog, nicenet, and wiki class. As a result, students can have access to learn beyond the class with the use of different web tools and the same set of tools can make the language classroom more interesting and lively. Such activities will certainly make the classroom activities fun and interaction oriented. My experience and learning show that these stuffs in the EFL classroom are also helpful for developing professionalism on the part of teacher. To conclude, the use of technology in the classroom opens the windows to access the free and open treasure of vast and worldwide knowledge.
Bill Gates says, “Technology is just a tool, in terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important”. This is age of networking and this is possible by connecting with virtual world. The teacher development is an ongoing process through networking. For this, the use of nicenet, blogging and creating wiki class will certainly have enormous effect for making classroom interactive and bringing synergic effects. By using this, you can post the course information, different assignments and hyperlinks. Moreover, such kinds of web tools are helpful in establishing stimulating environment. This also provides access to authentic learning materials and considerable amount of exposure to a wide variety of native sounds.
The following sites will be helpful for the teacher to make teaching and learning more interactive:
We need to start doing something different, new and extra through the use of new web tools before it is too delay. Now, it is the time to believe in technology, which is today’s reality.
However, using web technology in the EFL classroom particularly, in remote public school in Nepal is not feasible due to lack of availability of technologies and facilities like electricity, internet access, computer, and other resources and infrastructure required. And, the places where there is such access and availability have challenges like illiterate teachers in terms of knowledge and skills to use technology and reluctance to adopt and adapt modern teaching techniques. Fullan (1991, as cited in Maggioli, 2004) opines that schools are facing problems and challenges because of the “fragmentation, overload and incoherence resulting from the uncritical acceptance of too many different innovations”.
The above sections of this blog entry suggest that there are both opportunities and challenges ahead while integrating technology with pedagogy. Maggioli (2004) adds that language teaching profession is faced with accountability issues that call for improved teacher development as means of improving student learning. While integrating technology in the classroom, teachers ask themselves key five questions for professional development and this will be useful for implementing any new ideas in the classroom.
1. What am I doing?
2. Why am I doing it in this way?
3. What impact is it having on learners?
4. How might I do things differently?
5. If I did things differently, what impact might it have on learners? (Nolan and Hoover as cited in Maggioli, 2004)
The journey of thousand miles starts from a single foot. There is a need to change the traditional methods of teaching with integrating with technology. The curriculum developer, subject expert and others concerned need to introduce and integrate technology into the course of study for B. Ed. and M.Ed. degree. And such integration should be included in pre-service, in-service and refresher training modules too.
We can bring avenue of progressive change in Nepalese ELT and this is only possible when we have passion to update ourselves adopting and adapting modern global trends. We are not only the teachers but also change makers in ELT. Let’s integrate technology with teaching!
Mr. Rijal is pursuing his M. Ed. in ELT at Kathmandu University, Nepal.
Maggioli, G.D. (2004) Teacher centered professional development. ASCD: USA
Peachey (2011) A checklist of digital skills for teachers and trainers. The Teacher Trainer, Vol. 25, No. 1: A Pilgrims Publication ISSN:0951-7626
Yadav, P.K. (2011) Blogging as a Means of Professional development for ELT professionals. Journal of NELTA: Nepal English Language Teachers’ Association (NELTA) ISSN: 2091-0487