A Digital Age Classroom - What's It Like?
2019-05-13 Elizaveta Pachina Alumni Experiences
The use of new technology in the classroom is a complex topic with many variables. The aim of this essay is to highlight some of the advantages and weaknesses of the use of technology in the classroom and how to find the middle ground. Then looking at how to implement technology in a way that creates a conducive learning environment for students, with a specific focus on the ESA approach. Applying technology as a supplement to teaching and creating a positive learning environment for students is the goal.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Jacob S.
Technology in and of itself is not a bad thing; much like anything, if used inappropriately, it can be counterproductive to the learning environment. However, it also holds infinite possibilities to help supplement learning. The ability to have the answer to nearly any question is at the student's fingertips with the implementation of the internet. This is a great resource for self-study and learning outside of class. For in-class use, there are sites such as Socrative and Kahoot. These sites allow you to have a simultaneous opportunity to ask questions while the lesson is going, even anonymously if so chosen. This allows students to not be worried about being embarrassed for asking questions and also provides everyone with a physical transcript of questions and answers for later review. Kahoot is a site that allows you to create fun games and activities, which are ideal for the Engage phase of the ESA structure. Lastly, the unending resource of relevant and updated authentic materials online is a huge benefit of technology in the classroom.
All things require a balance to a degree, and technology is no exception. There are a lot of positive attributes, although plenty of negatives as well. One of the dangers of the use of technology in the classroom is the temptation of distraction. If a web-based resource is being utilized, the temptation to check social media or email is also present. The majority of people are comfortable with technology, but teaching English to foreign language learners may take place in regions where technology is not as developed, or lacking altogether. This also can present a difficulty if a lesson is based around technology. Arguably the biggest weakness: unreliability. Technology fails, often actually. If a lesson is based around a PowerPoint for example, and that PowerPoint does not open, there needs to be a backup lesson plan available.
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ESA and Technology
Technology in the classroom can be a wonderful supplement to learning, and specifically in the ESA structure. The Engage stage is ideal for the implementation of technology, with the use of modern resources such as YouTube, social media sites, blogs, etc., the options are endless for finding interesting and relevant materials to capture students attention. The study phase can also use technology, but in this phase, it can be more structured and use learning activities such as a gap-fill exercise utilizing the Socrative platform. This will keep students engaged and allow them to use different modalities in learning. As for the Activate stage, technology plays more of a resource role. For finding pictures or facts about a given topic for a group project.
The “So what?”
Technology is a part of the younger generations lives, they will use it whether or not it is incorporated into the classes. Utilizing technology especially for the Engage portion of the ESA structure has the potential to create an enjoyable and appealing environment for the students; an environment where they feel safe to learn and make mistakes. The ideal situation is to be able to exploit the advantages of technology in the classroom and try to circumvent the weaknesses. Finding a happy medium is the goal. Implementing technology in the classroom, not as a replacement of teaching, but as a supplement, has the opportunity to greatly increase the efficacy of learning.
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