3 Tips on taking Advantage of Technology at School

ETI.

Technology? Yes, I use it, but not in the classroom….

We are fortunate to live in an age where communicative technology is evolving around our needs at a rapid pace. The ‘average Joe’, who ten years ago would have found it difficult to send an email, can host a video conference from the comfort of his own home at the click of a button – and with confidence!
Ubiquitous computing has become a reality.

It is everywhere.

I was once asked ‘If a man from the 1950s travelled through time to speak to us in 2016, what would be the most difficult thing for him to process?’ For me, the answers are the internet and technology. Not the ‘Information Super Highway’, not the communicative developments, and not the advent of cloud computing…but the simple fact that many of us carry a tool connected to the greatest database ever created in our pockets- our mobile phone. And guess what? Often, we don’t use it to the full..

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The classroom is no exception. But using it effectively is a very difficult (and somewhat daunting) prospect. It is a change in our processes and techniques, and a change that can take many teachers and students a long time to adapt to. On the other hand, some teachers and students can adapt to it with ease.

There is not a single method that works for all.

On a personal level, I believe that looking at how you, as a person, use technology helps. If you see how you yourself use technology in your own life, you could then think about how to use this in the classroom. That is a good starting point for using technology in our lessons. And … your students will enjoy it and be more motivated.
I am going to use myself as an example.
Here are three examples from my own life:

 

Technology Tip 1

I live alone. Sometimes I want to do things in my flat that are new to me. Mundane things, like replacing a washer or unblocking a sink. I have never had someone show me how to do these things, but after a quick YouTube search I can watch a video over and over until I am confident.

How can I apply that in my class?

Having a home tutor is often expensive, but watching a tutorial is NOT. A tutor is often paid by the hour, but a tutorial video can be repeated as often as is required.
This is can be done with grammar points, vocabulary, pronunciation, language skills tips, and so much more that we usually impart face-2-face in the classroom.

Creating a video and distributing it online to your students can save a lot of time in the classroom. If the students watch the video a number of times before class, then the teacher can avoid the ‘presentation’ stage of a lesson and go straight into the task.

Also, for those teachers with IWBs in their classroom, it is easy to record what you are writing on the board as a video file (and yes, recording your voice as well), for students to watch a lesson again. As we all know, recycling is key.TT Douglas whiteboard man student

 

 

Technology Tip 2

I play the guitar. I have played for a few years, but I have never developed my ear. I cannot tune a guitar by sound alone as I cannot identify a ‘Low E’. I have an app on my phone thathelps me. By identifying what sound I play.

How can I apply that in my class?

This can be applied to pronunciation. Voice recognition software is now a constant on new smart phones and new computers – Google Now, Siri and Cortana – and allows the user to execute tasks using speech.

The software analyses the sound wavelengths and compares it to a database built up of phoneme bites and recreates your audio in a written form. If the result is different from what you intended (and you are certain that you used the correct vocabulary) then it is clear that the ‘sound’ was not correct. Definitely something for students to try out!

Alternatively, for single words, just google the word and pronunciation, eg ‘intrepid pronunciation’ and a list of dictionaries giving the audio version come up.

 

Technology Tip 3

I live abroad. Sometimes I feel a little homesick and I want to have a look at my home. My village has a website which has a live webcam but the direction never changes. Occasionally I like to take my friends on a ‘walk’ through my village.

How can I apply that in my class?

Google started a huge project where they drive through different countries and take millions of pictures to create a 3-dimensional street map, allowing you to literally ‘walk’ through some parts of the world.
Google is not the only company to have done this. Bing and Yandex have followed. Many places have been mapped in this way, but it is not global.
Malta, where I live, has not been mapped, but have thousands of photos uploaded by visitors to Malta . But I can use these images for many language points – adjectives, nouns, prepositions and more.

Google has also started the Google Art Project, where you can ‘enter’ many famous art museums. And a multitude of 3D buildings have been designed, so you can rotate the building and see it from all sides.

Being ‘on the ground’ instead of just reading about places (or listening) brings the world into the classroom. And discussing these places after ‘seeing’ them is very motivating to students.

Once I start looking at how I use technology in my personal life, I start to come up with ideas on how to apply them to my classroom. It might surprise you just how many things you can apply.

Up to you now:
What do you use technology for?
Can you find an application for it in the classroom?

For more useful tips on using technology in a classroom join us on our Technology and ICT courses.


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This article was written by Douglas. Douglas is an English language trainer as well as our Head IT Trainer. He has helped design, develop and deliver teacher training courses focusing on IT, CLIL and teaching Methodology.

 

 


Glossary:

evolving- verb
developing slowly
e.g. Saul’s leadership style is evolving gradually.

‘Average Joe’- Idiom
An ordinary person.

advent
The start or arrival of an important event
e.g. The advent of the internet

daunting- Adjective
something difficult or frightening
e.g. a daunting task

prospect- Noun
the idea of something that will happen in the future.

Ubiquitous- adjective
seeming to be everywhere
E.g. Nowadays, Reality TV stars are so popular and so ubiquitous, that one cannot get away from their influence.

Mundane- adjective
boring

multitude-adjective
many, a large number
E.g. ETI Malta, runs a multitude of English language and Erasmus+ funded, teacher training courses.

to impart- verb
to give someone news or information

to identify-verb
to recognise something or someone

phoneme- noun
one of the smallest units of speech that make one word different from another word

to recreate- verb
to make something again
Bill and Sandra are going to try and recreate the magic of their wedding on their tenth wedding anniversary.


Glossary Sources
Cambridge Learner Dictionary
Oxford Dictionary
 


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