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Can Digital Technology be Used in Conjunction With Traditional Teaching Practices?

Can Digital Technology be Used in Conjunction With Traditional Teaching Practices? | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Technological innovations play a major role in education and the teaching of language. When used in conjunction with traditional teaching forms, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) give students the freedom to discover solutions to problems both independently and collaboratively, which is a force for good results in the classroom. Certain factors affect how successful ICT’s can be within the classroom.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Carl N. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

Transition to digital education

Firstly, technologies that make use of existing traditional teaching approaches together with new innovative devices will allow for a smooth transition from purely conventional to technologically assisted education. The availability of technology to students will also create limitations, due to the level of familiarity students have with existing platforms and whether students have access to use these platforms freely, as well as how much knowledge students have of the chosen technology before using it in the classroom. An exploration of the pros and cons of using technology in class will also be outlined in this essay. There is a large ongoing discussion over whether the use of ICT’s within classrooms is benefiting or negatively impacting an individual’s learning style. Technology places the world in the hands of every student, and if combined and used correctly with standard teaching practice, it could increase creativity, thinking skills, and overall achievement level of students.

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Teachers’ responsibilities

Teachers themselves must stay constantly updated with new and emerging technologies to apply them to a classroom environment. ICT’s have the potential to present opportunities to teach language more effectively and efficiently; a good example being the ‘SMART Board’. These interactive boards function similarly to conventional whiteboards and blackboards, but also have the ability to display other types of media, e.g. videos, images, drawings, etc. the combination of other types of equipment in one allows the ‘SMART Board’ to be a valuable tool within the classroom. “Computers and technology do not act as a replacement tool for quality teachers but instead they are considered as add-on supplements needed for better teaching and learning.”, (Ghavifekr and Rosdy, 2015). Technology that acts as a supplement or an addition to pre-existing technology or teaching methods allows for the seamless implementation of new technologies into the classroom. Thus, increasing student and teacher productivity, whilst in conjunction with maintaining traditional educational methods that have been effective over generations of teaching.

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Availability of Technology

Another factor that must be considered when trying to integrate new technology into a learning environment is the availability of technology. Pre-existing knowledge students have regarding the chosen platform can determine whether the technology is used effectively. Considering whether the technology can be used when applied to teach other content covered in class will ensure that the time and effort put into training students are benefiting overall learning. If teaching the students how to use the chosen ICT becomes another learning process unrelated to content, the chosen technology will hinder rather than aid further studies. Smartphones are a largely accessible device that most students have access to, and if utilized correctly creates opportunities to increase student interactivity and productivity. “Easy internet access, a multitude of education-friendly apps, and the ability to be used at a moment’s notice […] smartphones have all the tools necessary to boost student learning.” (NEA, 2017). Embracing the use of smart technologies and other ICT’s in this digital age will allow for an equal balance between traditional and technologically assisted learning, making a productive and familiar environment where students can utilize what knowledge they have in terms of technology and in turn improve quality of education and learning for teachers and students.

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Technology brings with it many positives when considered in terms of its utilization in education. However, it also carries negatives; leading to great contention in the pedagogical world as to where the use of technology sits in the pecking order of classroom-based learning. Every student learns differently, and technology allows educators to accommodate unique learning styles on a case-by-case basis. With the vast amount of knowledge captured on the internet, users can collaborate and broaden their experience. Students can also take responsibility for finding answers to suit their own learning needs, impacting independence. An advantage that comes about when referencing e-learning or online learning is how online communication enables students to actively generate individual perspectives which can then be shared with a group; involving learners in actively productive and collaborative learning. ICT in this context is seen to provide the building blocks for a dynamic and meaningful learning atmosphere; the ability to construct knowledge socially through collaborating with others a key element of constructivist-based online learning, (Md Yunus et al., 2013). Research into Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) also suggests that CALL creates and encourages and supports an environment where students can work at their own pace, enhancing independent writing skills in terms of quality and quantity (Md Yunus et al., 2013). Another related study on teaching reading to EFL learners investigated the effects of watching captioned clips on vocabulary development. From these findings, it can be said that the use of ICT in this context helped participants develop vocabulary, which in turn assisted in teaching EFL students to read, (Md Yunus et al., 2013).

The use of technology within classrooms may also cause disadvantages, resulting in a thoughtless mindset among students where work is being taken lightly and potentially leading to less motivation to learn. There is also the chance that the student’s reading skills are negatively affected and developed incorrectly, instigated by scrolling and ‘skimming’ subject matter rather than giving thought to and contextualizing what they are reading, leading to an accelerated but inaccurate understanding of the content.

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While it is accepted that there’s no stopping the development of multiple educational and technological formats, teachers will be challenged to endure and adapt to new online educational forms brought about by technological innovation for students to continue to develop the intellectual skills they need to succeed in and interact with the world. Technology has both pros and cons when used in the classroom, but the bottom line is this: We are living in a digital world, and students are interacting with technology, and possibly even bringing it with them to school, daily. The benefits of using new technology in the classroom in combination with traditional teaching methods are far-reaching and need to be embraced by modern educators who seek to become successful in the pedagogical world.

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