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Nowadays technology has taken over and it’s not uncommon to see students sat on a bench ignoring each other whilst they happily flick through their Facebook pages, update their statuses and share posts with each other on Instagram. However, is technology useful in the classroom and secondly how can we convert the interest in technology into something useful for the English classroom?
What are the benefits of Technology Integration in English Education?
First of all, it increases student engagement and motivation.Technology can transform even the most mundane lesson into one that is powerful and thought-provoking. Teachers of English will understand that the most effective classrooms enable their students to acquire the language rather than learn it. Technology allows this to happen by stimulating English language acquisition rather than drilling grammar and vocabulary.
Secondly, it allows mobility. Looking back on when I was a student, a lot of the reason why I would get bored in class was due to the fact that I was have to stay stuck to my seat for hours at a time. I couldn’t talk to my friends and it was just a matter of filling in the blanks of a grammar book. Now, however, technology enables us to participate in groups, to carry out cooperative tasks, to move about the classroom and to make a little noise, well, maybe more than just a little noise, especially with competitive games likes Kahoot.
Fourthly, it encourages students to be independent. It is true that technology can’t replace the teacher and we need to be careful to ensure we teach them how to use it effectively, however, allowing students to research for themselves and decide what information is valid and not can be very useful. Technology is also available 24/7 allowing students to continue their studies outside of the classroom environment.
Finally, majority of the technological database is in English. There are never ending resources in the English language. Technology allows us to access videos, listening and reading material, news websites, English grammar help and more. Moreover, technology means that all of the information is all readily available in one place, that beats carrying 20 school textbooks around.
Wait! Let’s not forget the teachers too! Technology can be extremely beneficial for the teachers, it’s such a time saver and a way to investigate new ideas. We are spoilt for choice. We can quickly find lesson plans, share and come across millions of resources on websites like busyteacher.com, pinterest, instagram and islcollectives, enabling us to learn new teaching techniques and constantly keep up to date with new methodologies to keep our classroom active and fun!
So, now we know the benefits, what are some of the best ways to teach English using technology?
Gamification is a relatively new term, but it is a methodology which has been around for years. Gamification incorporates gaming strategies into learning. It can be adapted to any subject and include a wide variety of activities. Within gamification there is normally a theme and a game aim, take monopoly for example, students would have to work their way around the board-game collecting tokens of some kind by answering questions related to their subject.
This gamification below is for a tutorial on technology and internet safety. The scenario is “robots are taking over the planet”. In order to prevent this happening students are asked to complete a series of missions and collect weapons to help them fight back.
Edpuzzle is fantastic! It allows for students to watch a video of the teachers choice whilst answering questions to check whether they have understood and paid attention. Videos can be uploaded or taken from websites such as Youtube.com.
See the green question marks at the bottom of the picture? They’re the questions for the students – these can be set by the teacher at any point in the video and you can include as many as you like!
Socrative allows for teachers to prepare multi-choice, true or false and open ended questions. Its is a game which gives instant feedback and is a great way to avoid typical boring question- answer sessions carried out by the teacher before an exam or test. It can also simply can be used to check students comprehension of material studied in class.
These two programs are equally as fun and competitive but have slightly different ways of functioning. Students are provided with a question and a time limit in which to answer it, the competition is to answer as quickly as possible without making any mistakes. Kahoots shows the top scores, whereas Quizizz shows you how quickly you answer the question compared to other students. The final scores show up at the end. Both of them have proven to be a great success and promote healthy competition in learning.
Some others include Playposit, Qrafter, Nearpod
You may be thinking……..this all may seem well and good if your school is pro-technology, but if it isn’t can I still get the results I’m looking for in my classroom? The answer is YES! As the following video shows: The future of Education, technology isn’t the be all and end all, let’s be honest, it helps, but there are many other ways to motivate your students and create an interactive learning experience without it. It’s all about CREATIVITY.
Make your classroom visual (with posters/post-its)
Change your classroom layout every so often and get your students up and moving around
Create collaborative learning spaces
Use humor in your classroom
Reward & recognise progress
Include team building exercises
Create a non-traditional style classroom experience
Take a look at one of the projects my students worked on this year “Gamification“, using many of the aforementioned strategies. We used cardboard, pens, colours, sticky tape, and a few other materials that you could find in school.