Classroom to chatroom: technologies in teaching
Won’t it be great when we can plug ourselves into the Matrix and learn Kung Fu in 30 seconds? While we’re waiting for the boffins work that out, though, we still need to teach each other how to do things by explaining. Learning technologies which facilitate explaining in the modern classroom include things like social networking, wikis and game-based learning. These take us one step closer to Matrix-style learning by putting our brains in virtual worlds from which they can download information. So we’re not quite Neo and Trinity yet, but it’s a start.
Teachers need to know how to exploit these new technologies to best effect. Digital native learners expect them to be used, so it’s a case of how effectively these tools can be harnessed to get the course material across. The British Council, which oversees and promotes teaching English as a foreign language worldwide, offers a course in Learning Technologies for the Classroom to introduce teachers of English to using new technologies for teaching.
It’s a fairly substantial course – 30 units of 2.5 hours each – and, appropriately, is delivered using some of the media the course is about: online video, links and web resources. It is organised into four main modules:
- Issues in Learning Tech tackles the potentially thorny issues of cyber wellbeing, internet child safety, and cyber-bullying. It moves on to digital literacies, MOOCs, Personal Learning Networks for teacher development, platforms for e-portfolios and how students can use them to reflect on their learning.
- Tech Tools Gets to grips with developing pedagogically-sound, engaging lessons using Microsoft Word and PowerPoint before moving on to social networking for educational use, mobile learning, creating websites for teachers and students, creating and using interactive books, using interactive whiteboards, Learning Management Systems, Tablets and videoconferencing.
- Tech Techniques covers integrating the web into lessons, school linking projects and partnerships, digital images and game-based learning.
- Language Development with Tech approaches blogs, wikis, using online audio in language learning, and developing vocabulary using tech.
English teachers will all be out of a job when anyone in the world can plug a module into their brain labelled ‘English’ and be instantly fluent. Until then, this British Council course helps teachers of English make the best of the digital tools we have now.