Why is it important to use technology in the EFL classroom?
First, technology has achieved so much in every aspect of our lives so why not try to take advantage of this remarkable tool in the field of education. Actually, it has already done. Therefore, it is not something new. Many linguists and grammarians use data from linguistic corpora today to supplement their researches or to create new books of grammar (Scott Thornberry: Natural Grammar) or dictionaries (Macmillan /Oxford) , etc.. Many teachers around the world have also used the Internet at various levels. Almost every teacher has typed a text using a word processing program, used an OHP, a laptop, a TV set, a cassette recorder, navigated the Internet to find resources and materials to enrich his learners' experience, etc...
There is a variety of interesting ways a teacher can benefit from high technology:
-Teachers can download millions of ready-to-use materials, ready-to-print worksheets/activities, thousands and thousands of PowerPoint slides, short movies, graphics, animations, sounds for immediate use in the language classroom.
-We can ask our colleagues for solutions to the problems we face on a daily basis and get feedback on our work as the Internet now serves as a big staff room.
- We can now use a variety of Multimedia CDs that have interactive and diverse content that appeals to a wider range of students, whatever their learning styles are: that is kinesthetic, tactile, visual..
-Besides some types of content is ideal for particular activities: audio material is perfect for speaking and listening. Video/ animation is perfect to demonstrate processes.etc..
-Teachers can get rid of the "dog-ate-my homework syllabus" as students can complete tasks at home and can send them 24/day.
-Technology fosters teamwork, as teachers need to work with other colleagues or experts to master how to utilize high tech.
On the other hand, students can also gain a lot from incorporating technology in the classroom. Some of the benefits include, to name a few, breakthrough from the monotony of the traditional classroom. Multimedia content is often attractive to students as it is interactive and multifaceted as it includes sounds, video, text, etc..
Students can take responsibility for their own learning as they make decisions when they browse various sites to find relevant information.
Students can have access to rich and timely content on the web everyday.
Besides, they can communicate with students from all over the world and can chat / write to them, which gives a real purpose for their interaction because they do actually use the language to communicate.
In addition to real communication, students can improve their computer skill, which prepares them for the real world of work as many jobs require computer skills and network use.
How have I personally used high tech in my classrooms?
Some of my favorite applications are Hot Potatoes, Camtasia and Flash although I am also proficient in Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator. The formers, however, have an immediate relation with teaching. Hot Potatoes is an educational software created by the Research and Development team at the University of Victoria Humanities Computing and Media Center. It consists of six authoring tools: JCloze, JQuiz, JMix, JMatch, JCross and the Masher. It is designed to help teachers develop online / computerized tests, quizzes, round up lessons and activities. No or very basic programming is needed. This content can be delivered via emails, CDs, published online, used in the classroom as part of a datashow presentation, etc...
This application is perfect for including different types of content like audio, video, graphics, etc... Besides, it gives learners immediate feedback on their answers and their scores in real-time.
The second is Camtasia. It is an application designed to develop online tutorials or lessons. It records whatever you do on the desktop. Therefore, you can use it to record a whole lesson. This can be later delivered on a CD for students who were unable to attend the course or for those who want to view the lessons again. The third one is Flash. It needs some programming knowledge but it can be great in delivering rich content either on CDs or on a web site.
How often do I use High-tech in my classrooms?
I use the electronic classroom once or twice every 15 days and I make sure I vary the content. I use "hot potatoes" for round up sessions. I use the Internet to get the students to find materials relevant to lessons. I prepare PowerPoint slides from time to time and encourage my students to do so. I use the Internet to get authentic material like film reviews, charts, statistics, ready-to-print materials to further consolidate a grammatical point or a topic. I try to get my students to publish a wall poster or a classroom magazine. I used Photoshop and InDesign to design a magazine for teachers of English. I occasionally use a datashow and a laptop to present my workshops: I have already presented three workshops this year: Hot potatoes, using data shows, using network support and soon Flash.