There was a certain irony to me running this workshop given my somewhat combustible relationship with technology. But I guess it proved the key point that none of these tools require particular expertise and, more generally, that ICT is a resource like any other.
When & Why?
We came to the conclusion that ICT is best used to supplement a given lesson to help you achieve its aims.
For example, course book led courses can often suffer certain lacks: authentic listening, use of video clips, lack of predictive or gist tasks for reading and listening skills, personalisation, opportunities for genuine interaction etc. Well selected ICT tools and resources can plug those gaps and motivate learners.
We also decided that ICT was best not used for its own sake – there needs to be a purpose to anything we do in class and ICT use is no exception.
Other dangers we established were technology not working (or not having it in the first place), certain learners responding negatively to it, learners going off on tangents if left to their own devices, losing the communicative element as students work at a screen, and more generally the teacher feeling less in control of proceedings.
As a result, we established some useful ground rules:
- Have a back-up or alternative
- Rely on more tech savvy students to help you
- Never spend an entire lesson using computers – blend!
- Maximise communication by using the technology, from having students in pairs at a computer to choosing tools which require genuine communication
- Don’t do anything you don’t feel comfortable with but I’d encourage an experimental attitude. The worst thing that can happen is that it goes wrong.
We saw some examples in action from the following sites:
- The idea of a guided treasure hunt for information using a search engine e.g. Google
- A video clip from www.videojug.com (one of four clips that formed part of a jigsaw watching task)
- Using a mobile or digital camera to video record learners to make their own clip.
- There can be compatibility issues though so another option is to use a video recording site like http://www.mailvu.com/
- An easy way to record voice only is a one click site like http://vocaroo.com/ which might not look that pretty but is really easy to use
- Getting learners to add text to images to create something pretty, possibly as a springboard for discussion, is a really adaptable resource and www.pimpampum.net does just that by allowing you to create ‘books’ using photos from flickr.
- Taking the idea further is http://edu.glogster.com/, a poster creation site which also allows you to embed video clips. A great way for learners to present their thoughts.
I also wanted to show you the following couple of sites but unfortunately didn’t have time
- Two good sites for pre-teaching lexis before reading or listening skills sessions. If you have a projector or IWB, http://www.wordsift.com is particularly good as it also gives you links to online definitions. Tagxedo (www.tagxedo.com) gives you a similar thing in a funkier form but without the links.
- If you like your cartoons and can see your students enjoying creating one then http://www.makebeliefscomix.com/ is a good place to start.
Obviously, there is so much going on and it is very difficult to stay up –to-date. My recommended way of trying would be by following TEFL techie guru, Nik Peachy’s blog at http://nikpeachey.blogspot.com/
Good luck and let us know how you get on.