Further to my post on the flip side of technology, in which I wondered whether many teachers (consciously or otherwise) have similar reservations to myself about Edtech and mobile technology, I decided to do some qualitative research.
I created a number of small cards, each with the following (quite broad) question: What are your feelings about Edtech and Mobile Technology, and to what extent do you use them in the classroom?
I left these cards on the table in our teacher’s kitchen at ELC, and took a few along to one of the materials input session. I got a total of 23 replies (20 from my colleagues at ELC and 3 from teachers doing the materials module).
Here are the responses, followed by some notes below about what struck me.
The majority of teachers were very positive about Edtech and Mobile Technology, while still taking into consideration the possible drawbacks. Paul expressed the point perfectly when he told me he was ‘sceptical about both the naysayers and the enthusiasts because they always seem to be unaware of crucial elements in the debate’, so I was encouraged to see that most of the teachers who responded expressed mixed feelings about Edtech and Mobile Technology. Some areas of crossover:
Several teachers noted that it can add variety to a lesson:
- adds a fresh dynamic
- broaden the range of techniques / options
In terms of aiding learning and teaching:
- genuinely help
- learner autonomy
- research tasks
- interactive software engaging
- pleased to have these resources available
- keep a record of board work
Similarly, teachers commented on the accessibility of information via the internet:
- so valuable for ‘in the moment’ demonstrations
- I mainly use internet sites, e.g. TED, iPlayer
- YouTube clips
- Google images
I agree with this wholeheartedly and am also glad to have this as an in-class resource, but do think it’s worth noting here that information does not equal knowledge, and I’m wary of bringing in too much information that isn’t fully utilised or processed.
There was some reference to individual contexts:
- not useful for ielts
- specific lessons
This made me think about how I use an IWB more frequently with Business English learners – in part because of how the classrooms are equipped, but also an IWB and the ability to email board work looks more professional, and I frequently use clients’ company websites as an in class resource with Business English learners.
Some comments about the pitfalls:
- wasting time and getting stressed
- [Students] are distracted by things they see on the internet
- doesn’t make a bad lesson good
- seems possibly alien
- high profits
- sometimes feels like an end in itself
Is it necessary?
- I’ve yet to see anything you can’t do with a piece of paper (in terms of learning and cognitive challenge)
- I can find an alternative way
- offline teaching = focus is communication between humans
- reaching for a technology aided quick-fix … to answer a question or settle a doubt, where before I or the students would have to use purely verbal resources
- low tech resources = slower processing = better learning
- not wholly convinced that they provide either the teacher or the students with completely transformative opportunities that teaching without them doesn’t / can’t provide
Lots of acknowledgement of the relevance to the real world contexts of learners:
- current generation
- what students are going to be interacting with more and more in their lives
- extensions of many students identities
- learner expectations
One teacher seemed to hit the nail on the head, and effectively – unknowingly – summarised all of the above when they wrote the all important point: ‘it’s what you do with it that counts’.
A big thank you to all the teachers that took the time to respond. 🙂