Hear no evil

February 24, 2015

evilSpanish newspaper El País has a major story today on seven reasons why mobile phones should be switched on and not off in classrooms. The article points out that the days are far behind when teachers lived in awe of the technological abilities their students displayed: we now all live in the digital world and many of today’s teachers were actually born into it.

Nevertheless, as we know, use of technology in classrooms very often starts with “switch off your mobile phones please” rather than the opposite. Very often resources have been spent on technology in classrooms but the next step is to develop the notion of a digital curriculum in more detail and how the teaching profession understands and works with this concept.

It is a slow process. The challenge is not just how to use technology effectively in teaching, rather how to use technology in the best way in order to improve the overall quality of the education being offered.

Original article here:

Ironically, the weekend before El País published a major article on censorship and the internet across the world: are teachers the best censors?

 

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Christmas confusions

December 9, 2014

Do we know it’s Christmas? Do we believe in Santa and the Three Wise Men (if you live in Spain)? Those of us who have worked with technology and education always have our doubts!

Here is my Christmas message to you: two conflicting (or maybe not) thoughts on technology in education.

Firstly a video on why it never really works.

And now an article on why we should stop learning our maths tables given that we all have a calculator on hand.

Allow students Google their exams.

And a very happy Christmas to ye all.


Spelling out the maths

December 2, 2014

Hey, I am now over 300 posts on this blog. And things have changed since I started! What was originally a support for talks I gave has become a space for reflection on language teaching in a much more general way. That’s what technology does maybe: change how we function in subtle and unpredicable ways.

I have considered closing this blog: at best it needs a spring cleaning given that most of the blog list on the right are now closed with the exception of the wonderful David Crystal.

Meanwhile, while over Christmas pudding and various Ryanair flights I will ponder what to do next, here is a summary of where technology and language teaching may stand at the moment. Gavin Dudeney and his company have always been at the forefront of training when it comes to using technology in EFL. They have also been very realistic which for me is the key.

Have a look at this video.


September 23, 2014

warpeaceI have read War and Peace: flying to and back from Hawaii. In The End of Absence Michael Harris reflects on how hard it is nowadays to find time to concentrate on something that scale. Constant interruptions, the need to check emails and messages just to prove you are loved and wanted and maybe even important keep us from devoting time to larger projects, from being absent in a digital world. It is a thoughtful insight into the demands on our attention the modern world holds.

 

And I think it has lessons for the classroom also. Do we over fuel our students? Spice them up and push themselves and us until there is no respite? Would they learn from our absence? What I mean is letting them get on with it rather than teachers (and often nowadays technology) being the focus of attention. Teachers obviously are responsible for organizing their classes but I do wonder if we take this too far: if our need to fill every minute with an “interesting” and “motivating” activity actually blocks out real participation and hampers our ability to stand back and observe what is happening in our classes and how students are reacting to our lesson plans.

 

Many years ago in the Sudan friends arrived at their house to find written on the wall outside by the door: “we came and met your absence”. My students pay too much money to find my absence, physically; but they might learn a lot more if I step back and allow them to take a more dominant role. It really is War and Peace all over again.


Not dead yet

June 23, 2014

This blog is essentially a fórum for discussing the role of technology in education and in aprticular, language teaching. So here is something to consider:

– Trams are back in fashion!

– Ballpoint pens killed off the fountain pen but they sell quite well again!

– Sales of the good old vinyl LPs plunged to virtually nothing in the early 1990s but are now at more than 6m in the USA alone.

Disruptive technologies such as the digital camera can put a company like Kodak out of busniess in a flash but old technologiers don’t always completely die out. The examples above are just three of re-emergent technologies.

 

And the message for teaching? Well I think we have already seen IWBs fall back into place and the value of a good old White or black board continue to shine through. More importantly, now matter how far technology advances what we keep coming up against are the vital importance of the  two old fashioned concepts of teacher and teacher training. Looking good: I might just make retirement!


Taking our medicine

June 16, 2014

I still have fond memories of the good old computer room, particularly one we had when the students worked in pairs at a computer with their back to the teacher who was free to observe, roam, advise, supervise and aid students on an individual level. It was almost Dogme! In fact, it was in comparison to what came next: IWBS and up front technology driven teaching which may provide the occasional “easy” lesson but to my mind, fail to engage students or stimulate learning in any positive way. It is just far too easy to sit back and enjoy the graphics: Disney Channel probably requires more concentration.

The article below discusses increasing use of tablets in classrooms and how that moves back to my initial scenario: using tablets students can again work at their own pace, be helped individually by a teacher and all in all the whole procedure is effective, engaging and worthwhile.

This article gives some practical indications of how tablets and specific educational software can work.


A one hit wonder

June 9, 2014

Here is a statistic: 3 out of 5 people spend more time with their technology than they do with their spouse. Time to unplug?

Did you know a “device-agnostic” APP is one that will work on most platforms? That will make your life much simpler if you are expecting lots of different students to use it: you don’t have to check what devices they are using and whether they are compatible or not with what you want to use.

Ever wondered what a teacher’s brain might look like?

Have you ten quick ideas for using mobile phones in your classroom?

The answers to all these questions and more are on www.edudemic.com

Great, easy to navegitate site with tons of ideas and advice for teachers. Love it. It’s in my top ten.