Any excuse to post this
“Techno techno techno techno,” said 2unlimited back in 1993. I’m not sure that they intended it as a comment on ELT in 2011, but it’s pretty accurate. Every other blog post (whether pro or anti) is about technology, as well as an ever-increasing number of conference presentations. All of this can leave the techless teacher feeling rather left out. Throughout my time in Korea I’ve been fairly low-tech, I go to different classrooms around the school armed with a laptop (which is usually a different one every week as I’m not allowed to use my own) and pray that the beam-projector and the speakers work. One computer to 25 kids is not really a favourable ratio for tech work in the classroom, and few students (though the number is increasing) have a smart phone. Thus I have been rather restricted in what I can do – my lessons usually feature video, music and powerpoints, but don’t go much further than that. However, all that is about to change.
Over the summer holidays I volunteered to help teach a debate and essay writing class at the school. When my co-teacher revealed that we’d be teaching in the newly constructed dormitory, I was a little confused, having been under the impression that it was just for sleeping. Suddenly, I found myself in a beautiful, shiny new classroom complete with ten computers and an interactive whiteboard. “Who uses this?” I asked. “The students use the computers in the evening, but no-one uses it during the day,” she replied. Sadly, this seems to be a theme in Korea – it seems to be enough to have the stuff, even if it’s not being used. I saw my opportunity and one polite request to the principal later, I had my classroom.
It’s still not ideal, but now I have a room where students can use computers (even though in some cases it’s three to a computer) and so we can integrate a lot more technology into our learning. I’m planning on working on three main principles:
1. Introduce technology in the classroom that will allow and encourage students to communicate and learn with me outside it.
2. To bring the “real” world into the classroom and allow the students to interact with it.
3. To use technology to save, share, evaluate and display student created content.
I’m hoping that this will help to motivate my students by showing them that there is a real reason to study English (out here in the mountains of Korea the English speaking world can seem very far away). I’m going to use this mini-series to recount what happens as I go about making my classroom a more technological place. I’ll try to detail what I did, how it worked, the successes and problems I encountered, and hopefully what the students thought.
I hope you’ll stay with us.