The paper aims at identifying the context EFL is facing at a moment of technological evolution in teaching and learning as well as considering the different technological solutions that should be at the service of improving education. Teachers currently receive many solutions for devices, tools, training, resources and management support that can help in the change of attitude towards teaching English as a foreign language.
Technology is generating important impacts on education: the book as a learning tool, the chalk and the blackboard had a great impact on the way teachers taught their students. Nowadays the educational schemes are also changing, the technological solutions have caused an important revolution in the way of learning of the students, and by extension, the teaching methodology is also adapting to the new motivations and interests.
The incorporation of ICT in schools implies conceiving teaching and learning processes from new perspectives, a situation that implies new roles and abilities for students and for teachers: students become the builders of their own learning and teachers now have the responsibility to guide the student in this process.
However, what are the most important skills in the learning process? These new optics force teachers to pay attention and develop skills that were not so important a few years ago. The goal of education has always been to train autonomous people capable of developing and living in society and, today more than ever, teachers are supposed to train people and future professionals with skills that allow them to develop in a changing and plural society. Let’s see some of the most important skills according to media-based Classes:
Ability to collaborate and work as a team: In the professional field there are very few jobs that are developed individually and in general all projects require collaboration with different professionals, so developing this capacity is essential. Teamwork allows the generation of knowledge in a collaborative way, facilitates the development of individual skills, encourages the resolution of problems, also respect between equals and cohesion towards the same goal or goal.
Ability to communicate, present and convince: Public speaking seems to have become compulsory and allows to develop some of the most useful skills for professional development. During the school stage we focus a lot on developing certain communication skills but oral communication is often in second place. Knowing how to express ideas in an orderly and coherent way, getting the ability to synthesize the information we want to communicate, knowing how to communicate in front of an audience in a dynamic and attractive way, etc. they are all skills that are not always promoted and that have a great importance in the professional field.
Develop projects and solve complex situations: Design from start to finish a project, going through each of its phases, solving problems in different areas, etc. is what will allow our students to become competent professionals. Project work allows learning in a globalized way, applying knowledge from different areas and putting very different skills into practice. It is the methodology that will encourage the resolution of real life situations by putting their knowledge into practice in a coherent and organized manner.
Promote self-sufficiency and responsibility: Training self-sufficient people is one of the main objectives of education and there is no better way to achieve it than by making them competent and capable of solving real-life situations. Propose case studies, involve them in the administration and management of the classroom, promote peer assistance, etc. it will allow us to develop the self-esteem, self-sufficiency and responsibility that we expect.
Autonomous construction of knowledge and guided discovery: Learning is a process that is maintained throughout life and therefore teachers are to be able to train students to”learn to learn”. This ability will allow them to build their own knowledge, self-manage the learning process, select the resources they need, overcome limits, etc.
ADVANTAGES TO USING TECHNOLOGY
• Motivating Ss for involvement
• Reducing time gaps
• Getting and keeping Ss interested and on the task
• Improving student achievement
• Preparing Ss for the real world
• Reaching many learning styles
• Developing interactive lessons
• Engaging for all Ss
• Recording, presenting and sharing ideas, resources, etc
• Can reinforce learning, can be linked to Ss’ interests
DISADVANTAGES TO USING TECHNOLOGY
• Difficult to find appropriate resources, apps.
• eSafety? Ss being safe while using technology
• Connections or other app/device failure
• Using too much technology in certain cases
• Over-reliance and dependence on technology
• Control? Ss are not really using the devices T presumes they are…
• What if Ss do not use the feedback?
• Extensive time needed to prepare podcasts/ screencasts
According to the research lead by the European Commission on Education and Training, Computer assisted learning also reduces learner anxiety by providing non-judgmental, student-centred learning. Connecting learners to the cultural context of the foreign language, use of online audio and visual multimedia resources, and reciprocal role peer tutoring can all enhance motivation. The results of this research indicate that the student uses technologies on his own initiative in most cases. This situation needs to be complemented by a correct management by the teachers, which is not an easy task, due to the large number of available tools and the different skills and approaches that are taken care of with each of them, in case they are used correctly, in addition to the implications that this would have in the teaching practice, aspects that can and should be deepened with other researches as well.
As negative aspects point out the lack of knowledge of how to work with some of these devices (digital board, especially) and the dependence on connections, which do not always work and, in some cases, the class is considered a waste of time. Although the infrastructure has received favourable opinions, the results show that there is a large number of people who are not totally in favour of ICT. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the student, as part of his academic development, bases his learning more on the grammatical translation approach, especially for the consultation of texts in English, and is not forced to practice the language communicatively, since the context in which it operates does not require it. This is reflected in the low use of technological tools that the student applies for writing and speaking activities, which could be considered production rather than reception such as reading and listening, although it is a situation that also occurs in the traditional English teaching. Therefore, it is extremely important to create or maintain links with foreign similar institutions to practise language with native speakers and to strengthen the conversation clubs with this type of interaction, which favours student communication in all senses to an integral learning of English, besides promoting collaborative work among peers and taking advantage of technologies, among other types of benefits.
Technology is like that wave, that for its enormous support and motivations to students, it is also a challenge for students and teachers synonymous with anguish, reluctance towards the unknown; because the update and qualification seems somewhat urgent in ICT not only to teachers to search and find pedagogical strategies in digital environments that allow building knowledge but also to institutions in charge of implementing the use of technology at a high scale. ICTs in pedagogical practices are a resource to bring the development of students’ competences to the dynamics of the contemporary world. It is no longer a revolution, but urging necessity proposed to improve learning fostering the management of electronic media, television, radio, film, video and the printed in the classroom. Teachers are the axes that mobilize the process for the transition from teaching to learning taking advantage of and enhancing the various channels of perception of human being (auditory, visual, kinaesthetic, among others). Furthermore, in the field of EFL, ICTs open a range of new possibilities that break with rooted schemes and reveal new pedagogical ways supported theoretically in the fully active participation of students, what enriches in a remarkable way the teaching-learning process.
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