Technology in the Classroom

Here are some resources I keep online that you might find useful. If you find anything on the web that you think I’d like, please let me know. You can also visit the official website of Izmir University of Economics CELTA Center.

TECHNOLOGICAL TOOLS

A Teacher’s Pet
This is a great little tool for creating paper-based exercises. It could save you hours of work at the push of a button. With ‘Teacher’s Pet’ you can quickly and easily make perfectly-suited worksheets which are fully-editable all from one compact toolbar in your word processor.
www.teachers-pet.org

Wordle
Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like.
To create your own wordle visit www.wordle.net

Triptico
The Triptico resource application currently contains 23 different interactive resources – all of which are easy to edit, adapt, save and share.
http://www.triptico.co.uk/

 

Comics and Blogs
A picture is worth a thousand words…or is it? See how many words these pictures are worth at Google Image Labeler.
This is a neat tool for discovering word sets in GOOGLE. What set of words do you think “mouse” belongs to? What about “mice”? Try it out.

On the road to blogging
Use your GMAIL account to create your blog at http://blogger.com/.
Now that you’ve got a blog, why not make it a bit more colourful by adding a comic strip? Try this comic creator site to begin with. Then try your hand at an animated cartoon at
http://dvolver.com/
http://xtranormal.com/
There are others given in the resources below.
http://www.makebeliefscomix.com/Comix/
http://www.toondoo.com/
http://www.stripcreator.com/
http://comiqs.com/
http://pixton.com/
http://www.pikikidsstore.com/ps/home
http://www.bitstrips.com/

ScreenHunter & IrfanView
Using ScreenHunter 5.o, a free program that can be downloaded from the internet, teachers can capture screen images and save them as .jpg files. This makes for easy transfer to Word or Power Point documents. IrfanView is another available program that allows teachers to edit the size and appearance of images, as well as cutting or cropping them. These user-friendly programs are ideal for teachers less confident working with images.
The picture on the left can be used as a material in the classroom by asking the students who the famous people are and put the pieces in the correct order for each of the characters. ScreenHunter and IrfanView can be used to do guessing activities related to images. See Brad Pitt’s pictures as an example above.

Some Lexical Tools
Here are a few sites that let us explore the world of words in different ways.
http://www.lextutor.ca/
http://www.online-utility.org/

Voicethread about Web2.0 tools
Here is a voicethread about the tools we looked at in the first two days. Add your comments (use a WebCam, your voice or text). Before you comment you will have to register.

That just takes a few seconds.
http://voicethread.com/

Photo sharing sites
Flickr is one of the most popular photo sharing sites. Let’s explore the things you can find there: http://www.flickr.com/

Wallwishers
Wallwisher is an Internet application that allows people to express their thoughts on a common topic easily. A wall is basically the web page where people actually post messages.
www.wallwisher.com
Mindmapping
We’d like to you think back over the last three days and make a mindmap of the things you’ve learned. Register at http://bubbl.us/ and save your mindmap. You can add to it each day to reflect on what we’ve covered in the sessions.

Slidecasting
There are many sites that let you publish powerpoint presentations. One of the most popular is SlideShare.net. Register and upload one of your presentations. Then, ’embed’ the presentation in a post in your blog.

The Highlights of The Session

A. Technology in the Classroom
What technological tools come to your mind when you see the phrase, ‘Technology in the Classroom’? In pairs, could you please identify five different technological items that are used in a language classroom?

B. The History of Technology in Language Classrooms
Technology in language teaching is not new. Indeed, technology has been around in language teaching for decades – one might argue for centuries, if we classify the board as a form of technology. Tape recorders, language laboratories and video have been in use since the 1960s and 1970s, and are still used in classrooms around the world. Imagine how innovative tape-recorders must once have appeared to the first users.

Computer-based materials for language teaching often referred to as CALL (Computer-Assisted Language Learning), appeared in the early 1980s. Early CALL programmes required learners to respond to stimuli on the computer screen and to carry out tasks such as filling in gapped texts, matching sentence halves and doing multiple choice activities.

As access to Information and Communications Technology became more widespread, CALL moved beyond the use of computer programmes to embrace the use of the Internet and web-based tools. The term TELL (Technology Enhanced Language Learning) appeared in the 1990s in response to the growing possibilities offered by the Internet and communications technology. Web 1.0 is a term to describe the first generation of the World Wide Web. The core principle is that users can only view web pages but cannot reflect on the content of the web pages. Web 1.0 webpage’s information is closed to external editing. Thus, information is not dynamic and updated only once in a while by the webmaster.

In 2004 a new term, Web 2.0 emerged. Web 2.0 websites allow users to do more than just retrieve information. This second generation of web-based communities, such as social networking sites aim to facilitate collaboration and sharing between users. The Web 2.0 offers all users the same freedom to contribute.
Technology is becoming increasingly important in both our personal and professional lives and our learners are using technology more and more. Yet, teacher training programmes often ignore training in the use of Information and Communications Technology, and teachers are often far less skilled and knowledgeable than their own students when it comes to using current technology. This brings us to the topic of teachers’ attitudes towards technology.

C. Attitudes towards Technology
A large part of the negative attitudes teachers have towards technology is usually the result of a lack of confidence, a lack of facilities or a lack of training, resulting in an inability to see the benefit of using technologies in the classroom. Here are a few of the more negative comments we have heard from teachers in schools we have visited or trained:
1. I can never get into the computer room in class time – it’s always being used.
2. Using computers isn’t interactive. My students could do computer work at home.
3. I don’t know anything about technology.
4. My students know so much more about computers than I do.
5. Why use computers anyway? We have got a perfectly good coursebook.
6. I don’t like them, so I don’t see why I should use them in the classroom.
7. I’d like to use computers more, but preparing materials is so time consuming. (Dudeney and Hockley, 2007:9)

Like many language teachers, you may feel a certain aversion to information technology. What do I need computers for? You might ask. After all, you can or have been teaching English effectively with nothing more than a CD player or photocopier. You can teach English perfectly well without computers? Well, yes of course, you can. But by the same token you can teach English perfectly well without a coursebook, a CD player or even a whiteboard. However, these tools do make life easier and can add a valuable extra dimension to your teaching. Ultimately, the computer is a machine, not a method. The world of online communication is a vast new medium, comparable in some ways to books, print, or libraries. To our knowledge, no one has ever attempted to conduct research on whether the book or the library is beneficial for language learning. Seeking similar sweeping conclusions on the effects of the computer or the Internet is equally futile. Computers and the internet are just extra tools in your arsenal – tools which can open up whole new vistas within your teaching practice.

D. Why Use Technology in Language Classrooms?
· Research indicates that technology’s use in the classroom can have an additional positive influence on student learning when the learning goals are clearly articulated prior to the technology’s use (Ringstaff and Kelley: 2002).
· Applied effectively technology implementation not only increases student learning, understanding and achievement but also augments motivation to learn, encourages collaborative learning and supports the development of critical thinking and problem solving skills (Schacter and Fagnano: 1999).

· Teachers who have brought technology into their classrooms are aware that it provides an opportunity to differentiate instruction and change their classrooms into dynamic learning environments (Pitler and Hubbell, 2007:2).

· Integrating technology into instruction tends to move classrooms from teacher-dominated to ones that are more student-centred (Pitler and Hubbell, 2007:3).

· Teachers should provide plenty of opportunities for pupils to use their linguistic knowledge imaginatively in different contexts. New technologies offer many opportunities for pupils to learn independently and use language creatively.

E. Conclusion

All the new technologies in the world will not have an impact on student achievement if learning objectives are not clearly focused. When the connection between student learning and technology integration efforts is explicitly articu­lated, teachers are more apt to see the connection with their curricula, and will be more likely to devote the time needed to learn to use the new technologies.

In conclusion, the key to successful use of technology in language teaching lies not in hardware or software but in “humanware” our human capacity as teachers to plan, design, and implement effective educational activity. Language learning is an act of creativity, imagination, exploration, expression, construction, and profound social and cultural collaboration. If we use computers to fully humanize and enhance this act, rather than to try to automate it, we can help bring out the best that human and machine have to offer.

References

Dudeney, G. and Hockly, N. (2008), How to Teach English with Technology, Pearson Longman

Pitler, H. and Hubbell E. (2007), McREL Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works, MsREL

Ringstaff, C. and L. Kelley. (2002) The Learn­ing Return on Our Educational Technology Investment: A Review of Findings from Research. San Francisco: WestEd RTEC

Schacter, J. and C. Fagnano. “Does Computer Technology Improve Student Learning and Achieve­ment? How, When, and Under What Conditions?” Journal of Educational Computing Research 20, no. 4 (1999): 329–43.