Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Entry 3 IDT1415 Drivers for Using Technology

Different contexts call for different rationales to be considered as what technology and how it is implemented is directly related to it. In my case, I work in the private ESOL sector which is fraught with constraints usually along the lines of financially viable and as economical as possible technological solutions which will keep the institution at the fore front in terms of competitiveness and innovation. Also, a results-based mentality which equates high scores/attainment of speaking proficiency certificates with learning placing the focus on the product rather than on the process. In Burt's opinion, it is lack of focus on the process, motivation and the experiences that are dependent on it as well as the apparent inability to convey one's passion for the subject while delivering an online course lead to his disbelief in the effectiveness of online learning. Happily enough, my professional experience and own context have been completely different and are also blessed with some freedoms e.g. smaller classes (maximum 10 students per group) as opposed those mentioned by Dr Ashraf; more flexibility as to how teaching is delivered thus giving the possibility to easily introduce Podcasts or any other tool as done by Dr Ashraf above, and an implementation of different approaches such as Teaching by Questioning and the use of clickers as described by Prof. Mazur.

As far as my own rationale for using technology with my teacher trainees and students is concerned, I would say that it is mainly related to their changing needs both as professional teachers and students themselves and motivation in general. As teachers, I believe that Joe Dale's words fit in perfectly: 'Technology is not going away and language teachers need to embrace its full potential to engage our 21st century learners' and so experienced and novice teachers alike have a choice to make - either fall behind or buckle up and catch up with the 'program'. As students, and by students I mean not only that who is enrolled in a course, but as lifelong learners, there is a pressing need to keep up to date in a competitive world. As far as motivation is concerned, having done many online courses I firmly believe that motivation is key both in face to face and online teaching/learning. I particularly like Alan McLean's 3 As of motivation (Affiliation, Agency, Autonomy) and so these are at the base of any decisions regarding what technology to implement.  For instance, I introduced into all our Teacher Training Courses the use of a online shared folder initially via Dropbox and then COPY 2 years ago, as well as more recently using Edmodo through which I  share materials I designed and also curate to provide trainee teachers with extra pre face to face course preparation. Feedback has shown that this shared folder along with weekly exchanges with participants before the course increases their sense of affiliation. Agency is promoted through tasks which guide them through the contents of these shared folders and Autonomy is fostered via the way in which the tasks are designed e.g. encouraging individual completion of tasks and their sharing of these with the others. Overall, success rates have increased and more importantly client satisfaction has maintained high.

In short, my rationale for the inclusion of technology in my courses via an inductive approach, especially guided discovery, is directly related to those perceived changing needs of my students/trainees and a concrete desire to increase their motivation regardless of intrinsic or extrinsic factors.

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