On Using Technology in the Classroom

Teachers learn to implement technology in the classroom for enhancing language skills.

Word Processor: At the early level children can recognize letters of the alphabet by using keyboard. The addition of sound has an audio visual impact. The teacher could move on from letters towards using phonics and pictures. In later stages the teacher could be using words in sentences and at the final stage the students could learn to compose creative stories, writing reports.

Multimedia presentations: Multimedia materials could be used by students in the kindergarten stage where pictures interest them a lot. Even at a higher level pictures could be used to write essays, stories and used to learn other creative aspect of languages.

World Wide Web: Teachers can use ‘Talking Books’ to teach reading. Students can see the text and pictures as well as hear the text being read. They can link up with other schools in other countries and share books, ideas etc.

Cognitive Constructivism: Microworlds students „enter” a self-contained computer-based environment to learn. These micro worlds may be supported by a larger classroom environment, but may also stand alone.

A  traditional  class  contains  limitations  and  challenges  that  affect  language  learning.  The time a teacher spends with each student is limited. L2 teachers are not native teachers; therefore, it is difficult to expose students in a classroom to authentic language, especially oral language.

Another problem would be that language learning often focuses on isolated parts that become detached from real speech. The use of technology provides students with more time on task and a way to minimize these class limitations.

Today, anyone who has access to the Internet has instant access to other languages. The use of multimedia helps expose students to these authentic speech exchanges, increases time of on task and the effectiveness of the study time.

Benefits of using technology:

  • increasing time on task
  • on line videos can also be used to reinforce in-class teaching activities
  • technology provides context  (technology can help imitate and create the associations, the social  settings,  the  events,  the  sounds,  the  sights,  etc.  Through  video  we  see  things  in context; through audio we make associations from the sounds we hear; through online social programs  we  exchange  real  information  with  real  people  who  understand  what  we communicate)
  • contextualized learning environment (the multimedia combines audio, video, pictures, and text in new ways that help to create a unique rich learning environment; this type of context allows students to make new combinations for enhanced learning)
  • technology  frees  us  from  the  limitations  of  a  course  book  (as  teachers  we  are  always supplementing our lessons with our own materials)
  • technology provides ways to: 1. increase the foreign language input that learners are exposed to and 2. enhance the process of how input is converted into intake

 

Key Words
1. input is all the written and spoken target language that a learner encounters, whether it is fully comprehended or not
2. intake  is  limited  to  the  comprehended  input  that  impacts  the learner’s developing linguistic system

Podcasting for language learning. What is it?
A podcast is a series of regularly-updated audio or video files that can be played on a number of devices  (either portable, such as mp3 players or mobile phones, but also static, such as desktop computers)  and  are  distributed  over  the  internet  via  a  subscription  service.
The key differences between podcasts and other audio or video file distribution formats is that podcasts form part of a series, which are automatically delivered to  subscribers via RSS subscription and that once downloaded they can be accessed anytime and anyplace, as opposed to requiring the user to be in front  of  a  computer  with  an  internet  connection.

Why would I use podcasts in my teaching?
The popularity of portable media players and podcasting has increased in the last few years. Some researchers  were  quick  to  identify  the  potential  uses  and  benefits  of  podcasting  for  language learning:

  • Podcasting can support principles advocated by several theories of learning, such as the use of  authentic  materials,  informal  and  lifelong  learning,  the  use  of  learning  objects  for  the provision of learning materials and just in time teaching
  • Podcasting also fits with mobile learning, which takes place  “when the learner is not at a fixed,  predetermined  location,  or  when  the  learner „takes  advantage  of  the  learning opportunities offered by mobile technologies „
  • Podcasting  offers  many  potential  benefits:  for  instance,  the  materials  are  delivered  in  a format that is portable, convenient and easy to use, and easy to access. The user can control the pace at which the information is delivered to them – using the pause button, for example. The format is also motivating and attractive: short, often professionally made resources on a whole range of topics. And they are free.
  • Some  researchers  also  mention  the  potential  to  allow  contact  time  with  students  in  the classroom to focus on interaction, shifting preparatory work to outside times and locations (Blaisdell 2006:66)  as  well  as  integrating  in-class  and  out-of-class  activities  and  materials (Thorne & Payne 2005:17). For example, students can be asked to watch or listen to material as preparation work for discussion during a class, allowing the instructor to make the most of their contact time with students. The delivery medium, format, portability, and the fact that the materials can be subscribed to and do not have to be sourced from a library make this quite a different proposition to reading a chapter or article as homework.
  • One of the ways you can use podcasts is by uploading them to environments such as VLEs or your school or college website. You can use podcasts together with other tools, such as forums,  to  enable students  to  listen  to  a  piece  of audio  at  their  own  pace,  and  then  to respond to it and comment on it with other learners using a forum, for instance, or write a collaborative piece on it in a wiki.

Using „wiki” in class. What is wiki?
“wikiwiki” – Hawaiian for “very quick”

Wikis are simple webpages with only two functionalities, namely reading and editing. They can be written and updated very quickly using text editing. The skills users need to write and update a wiki are comparable to simple text production in word processing software, e.g. Word. Wikis also allow the import of images and other media files into the webpage.

Because the wiki is so simple, wikipages can be edited within seconds and made available to the next user. This makes them ideal collaborative writing and reading spaces on the web.

Wikis fit well within the practice of constructivist teaching and learning. Basically, if you believe that students learn better by actively participating in the learning process, generating their own “theories” about how language works, and practising language in collaboration with peers, then wikis are a tool you cannot neglect.

Wikis support this kind of collaborative learning as they allow users to develop their own rough version of a text  (or theory) which can then be updated and edited by others. Writing becomes a collaborative process, and every contributor becomes at once a critic of other entries, an author or co-author and a reader. Checking, correcting and up-dating the wiki entries can be a potentially valuable way of learning to write in a foreign language, with help and support from peers (rather than solely from the teacher), and also with a ready-made audience.

Why would I want to use wikis?

A few good reasons for using wikis in language teaching:
1. They are quick and simple to use and allow collaboration, independently of time and space, via easily accessible online spaces.
2. They offer authentic writing practice.
3. They allow students to be actively engaged in reading and writing: correcting, editing, and up-dating.
4. They teach students the skills of collaboration alongside language skills.
5. They present the student writers with a ready-made audience and critics.
6. They are flexible enough to incorporate multi-media content (without clogging up your email).
7. They can potentially be shared with a wider audience and made public.
8. Most students will already know at least one wiki (“Wikipedia”).

In addition, wikis can also support teachers in their classroom management.

Bibliography
Blaisdell, M. (2006). In iPod we trust. T.H.E. Journal
Roche, T. (2006). Investigating Learning Style in the Foreign Language Classroom, Langenscheidt
Thorne, S. L., & Payne, J. S. (2005). Internet-Mediated Text and Multi-Modal Expression in Foreign Language Education

 

prof. Minerva Ignat

Profil iTeach: iteach.ro/profesor/minerva.ignat

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