How New Technology Can be Used in TEFL Teaching
This is defined by Google as “the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry” or by Wikipedia as “the collection of techniques, skills, methods, and processes used in the production of goods or services or in the accomplishment of objectives, such as scientific investigation”.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Dan S. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
We are in the new world of technology, almost every sector in every nation is imbibed and subjected to technology because as people say it is reliable and makes everything easier. What are the most important technological gadgets that should be used in the classroom? How does technology then apply in the classroom? What are the advantages and disadvantages? When should it be frowned at? I will discuss briefly each of these questions in sequence.
When I look at technology in the classroom, I try to think through what changes and implications it might have. My concern is that it might inadvertently allow harmful habits or unintended consequences of learning into my classroom. When I arbitrarily fling technology at students without a consideration of its opportunities or drawbacks, I am potentially putting my students’ learning in harm’s way.
However, I would like to put aside the good side technology in the classroom. We have several gadgets like Overhead Projectors (OHP), Smart Boards, Computers (possibly with internet), Smart TVs, Media Players, Video Cameras, Printers, Audiobooks, Chromebooks, Digital dictionaries, iPad, Smartphones, etc. These are some of the most used gadgets used in the classroom for all ages, though some of the usages may differ depending on the subject and the age group being taught at a particular time.
Technology in the classroom
The major glaring usage of technology in the classroom is the ability to save time and make tasks easier to process. Imagine I am in class and I try to explain the difference between jump, hop, squat, and crawl to a young learner, if my students do not get at first, I can easily display a video of such movement to them on a Smart TV or play a rhyme that portrays the features I am trying to explain. This way I can make it entertaining, visual and easier to understand while passing the right information to my students. I have relied on modern gadgets in the classroom throughout my period of teaching and it has proved quite helpful anytime I needed it.
As discussed in the above paragraph, the main advantage of technology in the classroom is making learning more entertaining and arousing the interests of the students while passing vital knowledge to them. Thanks to technology, the old days of sitting in a stuffy classroom listening to a tired teacher talk about material from a stuffy textbook are becoming yesterday's news. The widespread availability of media, especially about technology, is changing the way we teachers teach as well as how students learn. Media in the classroom engage students in learning and provide a richer experience. Interactive media, such as SMART Boards, allow students to move items around on a screen for illustrative purposes, a definite plus for those who are considered visual learners. The disadvantages of technology in the classroom are but not limited to diminishing overall value of in-person education, raises instructional challenges, makes students vulnerable to potential pitfalls i.e. can disconnect students from social interactions, results in lack of interest in studying and finally can cause distraction. Young learners can get addicted to something easily, their attachment to a particular button, music or video can make them not to pay attention to what the teacher says.
However, in many ways, technology has profoundly changed education. For one, technology has greatly expanded access to education. In medieval times, books were rare and only an elite few had access to educational opportunities. With technology in the classroom, my students have instant access to fresh information that can supplement their learning experience.
Things to consider
When should technology be frowned at? This is the line between the advantages and disadvantages of technology in the classroom? For older students, technology should be frowned at when it encourages cheating; While students have always found ways to cheat, the technological age makes it even easier, if I ever notice any form of cheating from any of the students or the whole class, such people should be disciplined. The other reason why it should be frowned upon it as when it becomes an addiction.
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Finally, the benefits outweigh the cons. But the key to technology in the classroom is always going to be the teacher-student relationship because that’s where the education happens. Technology can be a highly effective tool, but that is all it should be “A TOOL”, it is not meant to replace the teacher. In today’s hyper-connected world, sensible use of technology can enhance education because the idea is to create a flexible learning environment that breeds innovation, the success of such endeavors will only depend upon how technology is applied to keep students engaged. It can be time-consuming and frustrating, but in the end, technology in the classroom can open doors to new experiences, new discoveries, and new ways of learning and collaborating.
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