• New Technology in the Classroom

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    Just 20 years ago, cell phones, internet, laptops and digital cameras, to list a few, were restricted to scientists and the science fiction world. Today, these technologies have gained public acceptance and it is almost impossible to imagine our lives without them!

    It is clear that, in today’s Digital Era, students must learn how to use technology to live, learn and work successfully. As teachers, we hear the call to provide our students with the skills and access to technology they require as citizens of the information and communication age we live in. As a consequence, we have ended up adding one more duty to our list: “The development and use of new educational technologies in our classrooms.” We are constantly exploring ways of incorporating these into our lessons, especially Information and Communications Technology (ICT), and I am sure we have all heard the term “e-Learning” as a way of enhancing the learning process. Schools and teachers feel the pressure to get technology and networked, but, do we really know what this is all for? It is not enough to think how many desktops or laptops should be brought into the classroom or how we can train teachers to use them. We need to ask ourselves broader questions before embarking ourselves into the fast changing and amazing world of technology!

    • Have we thoroughly thought about the impact and consequences of using technology with our students?
    • How does its use change our learning environments?
    • How can we use technology to support our students’ educational experiences?

    Have taken the time to answer these questions, or are we just following the “Technology Rush” because everyone is talking about it?

    Technology and learning

    It has been said that, under the right conditions, technology can:

    • enrich the learning of basic skills
    • motivate students in learning
    • link the classroom experience with the “real life” world
    • make people more productive
    • intensify teaching

    All this sounds very good, but what does “under the right conditions” mean? Isn’t it a little scary?

    E-learning in the EFL classroom

    E-learning claims to offer students a higher control over their learning by incorporating a full range of visual, auditory and kinaesthetic principles into their experiences, improving their retention of concepts and activities. The latest technology in this area is the use of a computer and an interactive whiteboard. The software is connected to the teacher’s computer and students use a wireless keyboard, a mouse and electronic voting devices to project images and texts on to the whiteboard. Suddenly, a non-threatening environment is created and everyone feels encouraged to participate. This active participation has a positive impact on students’ ability to learn, to retain knowledge and to achieve goals.

    Now that the principles behind today’s technology boom in education are stated, we can focus on the “how to do it” part of the discussion:

    What is effective practice in learning?

    As teachers, our ultimate goals are:

    • to engage learners in their learning process
    • to encourage independent learning skills
    • to develop learners’ skills and knowledge
    • to motivate further learning
    • to provide feedback

    But for effective learning to happen, the learning environment has to provide:

    • the right resources
    • the right mix of teaching delivery
    • the right context
    • the right learners
    • the right level of support

    With all these ideas in our minds, I would like to finish highlighting the importance of the fundamental principles of teaching and learning, regardless of technology. The bottom line of the discussion is learningand not technology. Teachers should, if they can, use technology in their classrooms to make students’ learning experiences easier and more fun to achieve. As specialists in the art of teaching and learning, we must preserve the need of human and social contact between teachers and students and students themselves; stressing the importance of visual and verbal communication, as well as speaking and listening as “key” life skills for success, so that we may never think these could be replaced by technology or any of its forms.

    So, how do you plan to use the technologies available, which ones should you use, when and with whom?... Good luck!

    Analida Anguizola Inchausti

  • New Technology in the Classroom

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    Introduction

    This report will focus on the use of three of the more recent technologies that have been introduced to the classroom.

    Some of the technologies discussed in this report have been around awhile, but they are included here because they either have not yet been extensively utilized in the classroom, or their effectiveness is still being studied and evaluated.

    It should also be noted that this report is not a complete literature review regarding either the use or effectiveness of the technologies mentioned, nor is it a complete list of new technologies.

    Technologies Included

    The technology list below includes both hardware and software. Where software is discussed, it assumes the availability of the hardware to run it, e.g. a computer. The technologies discussed in this paper include:

    • PowerPoint;
    • Digital projectors; and
    • Podcasts.

    PowerPoint

    PowerPoint is a Microsoft presentation software program that can be used (and reused) for a variety of classroom activities, such as:

    • Presentations;
    • Practice and drills;
    • Review;
    • Games; and
    • Tests.

    In addition to the above uses of PowerPoint, Miriam Schcolnik and Sara Kol of Tel Aviv University use it as a tool for oral reporting and writing. They said that: 
    First, students read source materials. Then, they articulate and crystallize their ideas through interaction with their peers and teacher. Finally, they write them on computer slides and share their writing with others. From our observations we learned that students derive great satisfaction from this task and take pride in their creations. With the promise of having something attractive for themselves and to show others, students are motivated to invest time and energy into the quality of their English tasks.
    Schcolnik and Kol (1999) reported that a large majority felt that using PowerPoint helped them organize the information and focus on the main points, and they pointed out that these are skills which are very important when reading and presenting in a foreign language.
    Digital Projectors

    Digital projectors, once too costly for the average teacher to consider purchasing, now can be purchased for under $1,000 (roughly the cost of a computer).

    Used as presentation equipment, primarily to transfer information from a computer onto a screen or wall, digital projectors are slowly replacing overhead projectors as presentation equipment. The advantage of a digital projector over an overhead projector is that anything that is on one’s computer can be immediately projected, without the extra step of having to make physical copies or transparencies for projection. In addition, the digital projector (together with a computer) can be used by other medium, e.g. CD’s, DVD’s, PowerPoint (mentioned above), and writing tablets.

    Several criteria need to be considered in selecting a digital projector. Some of those criteria are summarized below:

    Weight

    Description Weight Mobile/Stationary Differences
    Portable under
    7 lbs
    Extremely mobile Optimized for weight

    Brightness

    Lumens Range Typical Application Room Lighting
    Less than 1000 Small conference rooms and classrooms Dark or very dim
    1,000-2,000 Midsize conference rooms and classrooms Dim
    2,000-3,000 Large conference rooms and classrooms Dim or normal

    Resolution

    Type Of Presentation Minimum 
    Resolution Recommended
    Class Recommended
    Power Point 800 x 600 SVGA
    Spreadsheets 1,024 x 768 XGA
    High-resolution graphics 1,280 x 1,024 SXGA

    Note: For the best image, the resolution of the presenting laptop should match the resolution of the connected projector. 
    Podcasts

    Podcasts are digital recordings that are published on the internet as MP3 files and can be downloaded onto a computer or other MP3 player. Many are only 2-3 minutes long, but they can last up to an hour. The content is free from the internet.

    Care should be taken by the teacher that podcasts are chosen whose material the student can relate to as well as being able to transfer the learned information to other school or real life situations. For example, students can listen to a news broadcast with topics that can later be used in a real life conversation.

    Podcasts can supply fresh ideas and motivation, as well as exposing the students to new voices and relevant content. Ultimately, this should help students gain confidence in hearing and understanding what is spoken in their new language.

    Franklin Salveson

  • New Technology in the Classroom

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    Teaching in one form or another has been around for thousands of years. Formal teaching has traditionally relied on some form of classroom, a teacher to impart knowledge and learning and some form of board and writing materials. Students will have traditionally been issued or lent some form of course text book and have writing materials such as tablets and chisels, slates and chalk, or more recently pencils and pens to make notes with and some way of storing written materials such as papyrus or paper.

    The technological revolution and in particular the rapid development of information technology in recent years has been phenomenal and has, indeed revolutionised the way people are taught. The first affordable and easily accessible technology was introduced into the classroom in the late 1970’s in the form of calculators and basic computers such as the SX spectrum. Since then new technology has rapidly become part of main stream education.

    Video is now common place in most classroom environments and is an invaluable tool for bringing reality to numerous taught subjects. In recent years DVD’s and VCD’s are being used as interactive learning tools and have now practically replaced video tape. The benefits of this new technology are invaluable to both teachers and pupils alike. It is said that a picture paints a thousand words and this is undoubtedly true of video.

    With DVD and VCD there is no longer a need to manually search for a particular part of a video as the new technology is easily indexed and searched. This has greatly increased the benefit of video as part of classroom lessons.

    Audio has been used in the classroom traditionally as spoken by the teacher and more latterly in the form of audio tapes and cassettes. Compact discs have now largely replaced traditional tape and again have improved the usability and convenience of this medium.

    New audio and visual technology has now made it easy for students to takeaway stored materials and lessons and to work away from the traditional classroom. This allows for classroom time to be utilised more effectively by allowing the teacher to only focus on areas of the lesson that cannot be taught outside the traditional teacher and pupil classroom setting.

    One of the greatest revolutions in academic teaching in recent times has been what is now commonly known as on-line learning. A virtual classroom where teachers and pupils interact over the internet is now a reality. All course materials, examinations, lessons and communication can take place in cyberspace. Video-conferencing, on-line forums etc. allow students and teachers from different locations around the globe to meet and learn in real time over the internet.

    Whilst all of these technological advances have in no doubt enhanced the pupils learning experience and made the role of the teacher more effective. It can be argued that there is still a vital need for the traditional classroom setting. People all learn in different ways. Some respond better to audio/visual input whilst others benefit more from the written or spoken word. Some people work well in isolation whilst others benefit from group work. The pupil teacher relationship is a vital ingredient of the education process. The teacher can assess and facilitate the best learning technique for their pupils. All students are looking to their teacher to help them learn. They need to interact with their teacher and have the ability to ask for help and direction. Whilst this is possible on-line most people would still prefer a face to face interaction. There is also the social element of the traditional classroom setting. Pupils can interact and learn from and with their peers. This does just not just relate to the set curriculum but to a wide ranging education.

    In conclusion new technology has and is continuing to revolutionise the classroom environment. New technology can be used to enhance and develop the learning experience; however teacher pupil interaction and peer to peer interaction cannot be underestimated. The good teacher will use modern technology to enhance the pupils’ education and make lessons more interactive and fun. The classrooms of the future will no doubt change and develop but there will always be the need for teacher and pupil interaction.

    Alun Bidmead May



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