Larissa Albano: With or without technology

Adapt yourself to the new technologies.

"Adapt yourself to the new technologies. At home with the help of family or friends get used to smartphones, tablets and other tech tools so that you can use them in class with learning purposes. You don’t need to become tech-savvy but if you ban the prohibition “DON’T USE YOUR PHONE DURING THE CLASS”, your students will be delighted to learn by using their phones”.

I once enthusiastically wrote this in one of my guest blog posts in order to give suggestions to teachers about keeping motivated themselves and their students. However, the first comment I received to this post was the following:

“In developing countries, we suffer a lot as teachers. This is due to the burdensome task of a teacher. The level of education is low. Most schools are not equipped with the new technologies such as the internet. We still teach in a traditional way “chalk and talk”. Both teachers and students are demotivated”.

It is undoubtedly true that my post was aimed at teachers in my area and I forgot to consider those educators who cannot rely on technology to be supported in the work. However, I couldn’t understand why they felt demotivated just because the Internet was missing in their classrooms”. Do you think your teaching performance would improve if you were a tech-savvy teacher in a digital classroom? Well, I won’t be so sure. Our success in the classroom depends on our abilities to adapt the resources available in the most beneficial way.

Below you will find some activities you can do and tools you can use with or without technology.

1. With technology: Class blogs

Class blogs make it easy for teachers to post resources, lessons, and homework assignments. Parents can be up-to-date on class happenings. Students can share schoolwork with their peers, parents, and others. They can also collaborate on projects and get feedback from others. Finally, a class blog can be used as a reflective journal throughout the school year.

Without technology: Class diaries

What do you need to create a class diary? Just a notebook! What can you do with it? Here you are a few ideas:

  • Every week a student has to keep it up-to-date with the topics learnt in class.
  • Students can create a chain story.
  • Each student can write about the games their parents used to play in order to make their families feel involved in their work.

2. With technology: Glogster

Glogster EDU can be considered a digital poster. It enables users to combine videos, music, sounds, pictures, text, data attachments, special effects, animations and links in a Glog® interface. The platform also includes drawing tools allowing teachers to fully supervise students’ activities. Students can process given tasks and school topics and present their knowledge.

Without technology: Poster

Except videos, links, animations and special effects I don’t think the digital posters can of-fer more than the traditional ones. Moreover, working together on a poster improves the rapport among the students because they need to work side by side. I do prefer traditional posters because students can give a presentation on their work in front of the class and get immediate feedback by the teachers and the other students.

3. Pen pals (pen friends) are a great way to learn about another language or culture. It doesn't matter what level your students are at in their foreign language.

With technology: or other websites. This website let students meet other people and they can keep in touch by using Skype, emails, Windows Messanger.

Without technology: Traditional pen pals. Exchanging letters might sound a bit old-fashioned to someone but for younger students it is much safer than talking to unknown people. Moreover, teachers can develop a twinning programme which involves the whole class.

4. With technology: Interactive WhiteBoard

A smart board is a large interactive display that connects to a computer. A projector projects the computer's desktop onto the board's surface where users control the computer using a pen, finger, stylus, or other device. It is also a combination of DVD player and TV. Teachers can create slides about the target language to teach at home and then project them in the classroom.

Without technology: Whiteboard

When I was training to become an EFL teacher I was taught how to use both Smart boards and whiteboards. Strange but true, it was, incredibly, harder to learn how to use the latter; I needed to plan what my whiteboard would look like from the beginning to the end of the class. It took time to me to understand why it was so important not to delete anything from the board until the end of the lesson, but now I know that students need to have all the target language in front of their eyes, especially when they are practising it.

In a nutshell, there might be advantages and drawbacks with or without using technology. Your success in the classroom depends on how you use the resources available and, of course, your creativity!


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