New technology in the classroomThere are currently piloted learning studies being conducted in north america to determine the benefits of new technology being integrated in to the classroom. Although new technologies in the classroom seem to be a good idea at the moment, especially in north america, there are a few phenomena which should be explored before the integration can be applied
to a majority of ESL classrooms. As with most changes in the classroom, integrating new things can take time and must take into account issues such as cost
, method of integration, and what sort of attention it would receive from students, the teachers, and the parents. Examples brought forth will examine new technological devices such as smartphones and computers. By comparing the topics of cost, integration, and attention pros and cons, a brief outline of considerations will be brought forth to discuss the idea of using new technology in ESL classrooms.
As with most new technology, there is a certain price
-tag associated with their purchase – especially when having to order en-masse. In the ESL classroom culture, most schools
do not have the resources to spend on devices such as smartphones and computers for each student. Although some students may already have these devices – some may not and could be put at a disadvantage. Making these devices mandatory tools in the classroom would limit the amount of children
who would be able to attend ESL classes. A whiteboard and paper is much less expensive than computers or smartphones, and tend not to breakdown or fail.
The perception in the North American market is that computers, smartphones and other such devices being incorporated in classrooms is inevitable. For ESL classrooms however, the inevitability is not there due to a lack of need. ESL is a language based lesson and at most proficiency levels, students do not need a computer or internet access. If a school was able to afford the new devices, the students would most likely be excited and would provide them with a tool that they are familiar with. The downside to this is that some students may abuse the device in the sense of misuse – or the attention of the student is no longer on the teacher, but on the computer or smartphone.
Integrating the new technology into the classroom could pose a few difficulties as well. Some teachers may not be familiar with how to operate a smartphone, or computer very well and thus could be reluctant to accept its presence in the classroom. There is also the possibility that the ESL teacher may become lazy. If the teacher can rely on websites, online tutorials, activities etc… for the students to do – they run the risk of losing their teaching skills. This could be problematic too if there is a failure in the technology. If there is an unexpected power outage or a problem with the smartphones’ network – the students and the teacher would be without the devices use and would need to resort to the older technology. The teacher would also need to be ready for such an event and have a backup lesson plan and activities.
Teachers may not be the only ones to oppose the integration of the new technology in the classroom – parents also have a vested interest in the teaching of their children. The parents already pay for the lessons – if confronted with the obligation of having to also provide their child with a computer to bring to school each day – or a smartphone, the parent may become reluctant to enrol the child. Most ESL schools try to make money and rely on admissions and lesson fees. Any negative perception of the integration of the technology into the classroom by parents (and the cost of such new technologies) could have a very negative impact on the schools financial situation.
Although there are benefits for research and gaining the attention of students by integrating new technologies into the ESL classrooms, the need does not necessarily exist. Research on a computer or an integrated lesson onto a smartphone may be exciting to the students because they get to use an electronic device, but may draw the attention away from the teacher and allow the teacher to become lazy in their lessons and preparation. Basic language instruction does not precipitate the necessity of these devices as everything can be done on a whiteboard and with more enthusiasm from the teacher. The teacher should be able to command the attention of the students without having to rely on a device. Many students may also own these devices at home and the additional cost could pose a financial burden on the parents – or even the school. New technologies therefore can be regarded with consideration to be integrated into the ESL classroom – however the benefits of their addition should be researched and examined closely to make sure that there exist a need and does not interrupt the relationship between the students, the teachers, or the parents.