Saturday, November 1, 2014

Entry 20 IDT1415 Kessler and Plakan's 2008 Teachers' Confidence with CALL

How do you (or don't you) identify yourself with the level of confidence and behaviour discussed in Kessler & Plakans' article?

Kessler and Plakan's (2008) discussed three levels of confidence (highly confident, contextually confident and less confident) are, as they say, limited to 7 teachers at university level and as such I am surprised they went to such lengths for such a small sample knowing the implications. Having said this and reflecting on my 20 years of experience in ELT across sectors I must confess that I find it very difficult to place myself at any of their levels. First of all, my lecturing experience at university level as an Freelance Lecturer and Associate Lecturer at the Polytechnic of Turin, Faculty of Architecture in Turin, Sheffield Hallam University respectively does not match Kessler and Plakan's results at all. First of all, as a lecturer over 10 years ago, I was comfortably and actively using audio and video and IWBs at the institutions mentioned above. In Turin I had access to electronic consoles which provided video projection, an electronic visualiser and audio facilities in rooms which accommodated up to 200 students. I personally found these tools essential in reaching out for such big numbers in equally rigid classroom setups with unmovable furniture which made activities other than immediate pair and group work impossible. At Sheffield Hallam University, I had access to IWBs and this allowed for a wide variety of input which my Pre Sessional EAP students seemed to enjoy. In Kessler and Plakan's terms I would be a contextually confident user according to their description: most reflective, cautious in use, general high use, varied use, most integrated (p.178). However, I would consider myself to be highly confident rather than contextually confident as the context given here is confined to university settings while my experience across public and private sectors in 8 different countries has been pretty much the same, each time contextually confident thanks to a sense of curiosity and adaptability which could also be termed 'geekiness'! Also, just as it was found in the study, I used audio and video for input but also for feedback, especially via mp3 recordings made with Audacity while also providing ss with a little training on how to make their own and share them in the classroom via their computers. I remember that back then (2003-2005) internet and what you could do with it was still very limited and my Asian students would most have laptops which I could only dream of having at the time.

Now, I do not completely disagree with Kessler and Plakan's article though. I fully identify with their findings related to the factors found important by teachers: practice and time for practice, written instructions and CoPs. I feel especially strong about the first and third factors as these have influenced my own practice over the years. I first came into contact with IWBs while working at a summer school in the UK in 2002 I immediately exploited every opportunity to to practice with the IWB as we had only been given a 10min introduction to it. After this summer job, I went to SHU and there I had the opportunity to continue to use them. As far as CoP, back then it was all my colleagues and anyone who expressed an evident interest in this new tech. As time passed and the internet opened new avenues for these, I then joined different groups e.g. Promethean Planet and World, Facebook groups, SIGs and anything that would translate into being able to ask and also answer questions about technology.

I would like to conclude by saying that Peters' (2006 in Kessler and Plakan 2008) advice that teachers need to be trained as technology experts for the classroom not just technology experts is a valid and recurrent concept throughout the literature explored so far. Permanent, planned and principled exposure is essential regardless of the context.


Kessler, G. and Klapan, L. 2008. Does Teacher's Confidence with CALL equal Innovative and Integrated Use?, [online] Computer Assisted Language Learning, 21:3, 269-282, DOL:10.1080/09588220802090303 Online at: [accessed: October 29, 2014]

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