A reflection on the Integrating Technologies Course 2018 at Erdiston Teachers’ Training College.
As an avid user of numerous technologies within my personal life, I see no reason for it not to transfer to the classroom as well. Where possible I try to keep abreast of new technologies and where I can use them in my line of work.
While it is true that we, as student teachers, would have looked at some of the technology in the course during the summer, it is always interesting to read of examples within the field I teach. Yet, at times the limitations of technology within the Caribbean public-school context can overshadow its use.
As I look back on this past summer, where once again I was engaged in honing my craft along with many other teachers for the sake of earning my Diploma in Education, there are numerous things to note with regards to the Integrating Technologies Course and any subsequent endeavours on my part to apply some of what was learnt.
I must confess that I wondered why I had to do such a course again. Many , though not all, of the concepts I had encountered during Induction back in 2013. Will this be a waste of my time? At this point, my expectations were not very high.
The pace was slow and my mind often wandered, which is not the state I wish to be in while in class. For those concepts which were completely new to me I wondered how practical they would be given the environment in which I teach and the lack of certain facilities. In addition to the lack of certain resources, who really has the time to plan and implement many of these strategies?
The smart board along with its accompanying Notebook app certainly captivated my interest but it is such a costly piece of equipment and as far as I am aware, there is none at my school.
Kahoot! was one of the more practical technologies for assessment I encountered. I loved its colourful appearance and also its game appeal.
Aside from the presentation of various technologies and how they could possibly be used in class, frustration often seeped into my soul. Too often, I felt as if I had been insulted given the dismissive comments of one of the tutors when presented with the challenges faced by teachers in the system.
I was not alone in my feelings.
I firmly believe that all of these classes should have taken place during the summer so as to afford individuals more time to practice certain skills before the start of the term. For instance, the use of vokis, blogs and online assessment tools like Kahoot! need to be reviewed thoroughly before class implementation.
Additionally, a needs analysis of student-teacher needs should have been done, either at the start or during the course, to assess the skill-set and deficiencies of each individual. This would have allowed for greater differentiation within the class setting.
What really is technology?
The Collins dictionary defines technology as
the methods, systems and devices which are the result of scientific knowledge being used for practical purposes.
Thus far my use of technology has been centred mostly on the presentation of information (music, photos, video etc.) and on some rare occasions to play a game but can these be considered taking advantage of this new era of digital learners?
More, I believe, can be done on my end to engage my students in more meaningful communicative activities.
Striving towards Technology-Mediated TBLT (Task Based Language Teaching)
Technology mediated TBLT capitalizes on this era’s learners
who are comfortable with innovation and integrates the learning of language and new digital, communicative, and multimedia literacies, all under the philosophy of learning by doing (González-Lloret, 2016).
From emails, games and blogs to virtual environments, the concept of using technology to bring about learner outcomes is an appealing one. There are some authors who deem it necessary to teach students through technological tasks and develop those technical skills while increasing learning interest in the language.
Too often students exhibit what is known as Foreign Language Anxiety but the use of varying technologies has been shown to have a diminishing effect on the anxiety filter among learners as it allows for interaction without fear or being ashamed as there are opportunities for do-overs.
Anxiety contributes to an affective filter, according to Krashen, which makes the individual unreceptive to language input; thus the learner fails “to take in” the available target language messages and language acquisition does not progress. (Horwitz, E., Horwitz, M. & Cope, J., 1986)
Thus far in my effort to use technology in a more meaningful way, students for the most part have been receptive. From the use of tablets in my third year to research places of interest within Latin America to the creation of student ads in my sixth year.
It heartened me to see their enthusiasm and overall creativity in the completion of certain tasks in the Target Language while employing various technologies.
Room for Improvement
Cohesiveness of activities calls for thorough planning especially when technology is involved. It is a time consuming practice and as is noted by Gonzalez-Lloret (2016) while referencing the use of games, highlighted the lack of time along with limited ability of teachers to develop their own games fully.
Too often, one may fail to account for malfunctions e.g HDMI cable issues, slow internet access or even a lack of power. I have learned all too well that a backup plan is necessary when hoping to use technology within the classroom.