The world today is constantly changing and becoming more and more “techie”. Technologies have entered every house, every human being is aware and is capable of using computers, mobile phones and a great number of gadgets. Most part of us do not even know what to do, if one day technologies will seize to exist. The same situation appears to be in a classroom. Most teachers today do not notice that they cannot work fully without information and communication Technologies. For teachers ICT is a professional resource, a mode of classroom delivery, and a source of valid and valuable text types. For students, ICT provides opportunities to communicate more effectively and to develop literacy skills. Usage of information and communication technologies can improve students’ writing and reading skills, enhance and develop their speaking and listening skills. It also supports creativity, independent learning and helps in practice.
Because of its interactive and dynamic nature, ICT has the potential to meet the needs of individual students by providing opportunities to direct their learning and to pursue information, or complete tasks, in ways which meet their own interests and needs.
In particular the integration of technology into the English classroom represents a paradigm shift to acknowledge the importance of the emerging technological learning style which is increasingly becoming the fourth learning modality for students of the click and go generation.
These technological learners:
- are mechanically oriented;
- know how to use technological tools without formal instruction;
- enjoy using a video camera;
- obtain much of their information electronically;
- like integrated learning activities;
- would like to learn everything via a computer;
- spend much of their time on the computer or playing video games;
- know how to work with and use new software and hardware;
- interact and communicate with others via e-mail and/ or the internet;
- understand how to integrate various technologies.
Using ICT enables English teachers to tap into this learning style and the dominant youth culture. Many modern ICT texts can also be used as a starting point for the exploration of traditional texts. For example, an interactive site such as the virtual tour of the Globe Theatre site allows us to bring Shakespeare’s world to life.
Using ICT as a classroom tool has many other benefits because ICT:
- provides highly motivational activities for students… Initially computer-based activities can provide stimulus to undertake tasks that students may otherwise avoid;
- links to other learning and to realworld situations and experiences that reflect gender & cultural diversity;
- increases opportunities for student interaction and decision making… This interactive process has the potential to cater for individual learning styles;
- makes complex tasks more manageable… in some cases these activities require the development of new skills;
- makes repetitive tasks more interesting;
- illustrates complex processes or concepts;
- provides access to resources… increases the need for students to develop critical thinking and effective information processing skills.
ICT also enables a representation of language as a symbolic system. Furthermore the use of well-designed ICT environments can help pupils grasp abstract concepts such as imagery, literary relations, and morphology.
ICT has many benefits for the classroom teacher. Using presentation software enables teachers to show ideas dynamically, and deliver content effectively. Most impor-
tantly however, the use of ICTs in the classroom signals a shift from the conventional position of power held by the teacher to a more collaborative approach to learning. Generally computer based activities allow the teacher to assume the role of facilitator whilst students take on an increasing responsibility for their own learning The use of computerbased technologies can shift the emphasis of activities away from the teacher and towards the students, enhance social interaction, and be empowering especially for students with low traditional literacy skills.
Being a teacher of English,it is almost impossible not to use ICT in the classroom. Moreover, I find it useful for many reasons.
The first reason for using ICT is that it facilitates the process of information acquisition. Students are different, and a lot of them cannot percept just the audio materials, they have to see – when possible, of course – what they have to remember and understand. That is why, I surmise, power point presentations are so popular among teachers. I use presentations quite often, because pictures, colourful photos and written text help my students to acknowledge the information. Sometimes I ask my students to prepare a presentation themselves, and they really enjoy doing this. Because it’s not only about knowledge, but also about their talent, a chance to see something that’s hidden deep inside of them. Power Point presentation is just one of many resources, which help me to raise the quality of education. Videos, songs, movies and TV-series, even dramas are also helpful when we talk about English language learning.
Secondly, the Internet is the source of additional information. I always encourage my students to work with the Internet, to analyse the information from different sources. It is really easy to find some additional material and then to discuss it in classroom. My students are always welcome to find an interesting book on the Internet, prepare a presentation, speech or just common topic – everything, that will enhance their level of language acquisition. Besides, I practise online reading with students, because in modern world it is easier to find a book in the Internet than go to the library. Moreover, it is easier for a teacher to create a set of activities to check students’ understanding. Conducting quizzes became more available and effortless, thus, with the help of the web-site www.quizlet.comI have reduced the time, that I spend for quiz preparation, conduct, check and assessment. Everything is accessible with just two clicks on my computer. Teachers can use a range of teaching tools such as discussion boards, forums, email, raps, web quests, video and digital photography, e-movies, and even mobile phones as tools for delivery of class program. This opens reciprocal dialogue between members of the class community and may be extended to the school community at large through activities such as blogs and wikis.
Among the most interesting resources in EFL teaching and EFL learning there are:
Edmodo is a "social learning platform" website for teachers, students, and parents. It is marketed as the Facebook for schools. Current uses of Edmodo include posting assignments, creating polls for student responses, embedding video clips, create learning groups, posting quizzes for students to take, and creating a calendar of events and assignments. Students can also turn in assignments or upload assignments for their teachers to view and grade. Teachers can annotate the assignments directly in Edmodo to provide instant feedback.
Parents can also view this website, either under their child's username or they may create their own account. The Parent accounts allow parents to see their children's assignments and grades. Teachers, subject to creating and maintaining parental records, could send alerts to parents about school events, missed assignments, and other important messages. Similarly, teachers can, subject to creating and maintaining class-participant data, generate printable class rosters. so if a teacher is going to have a substitute teacher in their classroom who needs a printed roster, they can print one from an Edmodo account.
Edmodo, as with any social network, can be used as a place to post and critique work, facilitate collaboration, and post creative writing for an audience.
Educational social networking sites, like Edmodo, offer an opportunity to “connect with students and help them create norms and reflect on how different online actions will be interpreted.” Edmodo and other social networking sites offer educators a chance to explore the use of social networks and use of media and online formats.
Edmodo is used worldwide but mainly in the US. In Edmodo, teachers can put posts with attachments such as videos or pictures from their iPad, iPhone or computer and put it in a group folder in which pupils and teachers can access the post in a safe learning environment. It can be used to teach children how to create podcasts, posts and basic web-site designing.
TodaysMeet website (todaysmeet.com), The usage of the todays meet website in classroom has many possibilities. Students can talk about anything in a Todays Meet room, and often you will draw out the shyest, quietest students the ones who would never raise their hand in class discussion. Post the URL for a website you want everyone to visit. Links you post are clickable in Todays Meet. During a lecture, presentation or movie, if students are unclear about something, they can ask questions and get answers without interrupting. Looking for students to show how something relates to their life? Or how they would apply a new concept? Participation is immediate and much faster than raising hands to answer. Ask a comprehension question and have students type the answer WITHOUT clicking “Say” (the button you use to submit your answer to the room). Then, if they all click “Say” on the count of three, you’ll see who understands and who doesn’t. Create a Todays Meet room with a story starter. Have each student add a new sentence to the story. (Or, have every student create a Todays Meet room and start their own story … then have each student visit every other student’s room to add a sentence.) See where the story goes.
Students can post links to useful articles, relevant information and ideas they want to include in a group Todays Meet room. Post meeting cancellations and changes. Connect with parents. Save yourself tons of phone calls or text messages if everyone checks the group TodaysMeet site. Host a discussion where participants can discuss when it’s convenient for them. Let everyone pop in to a TodaysMeet room throughout the day (or week) and wrap up the meeting at a predetermined time.
- Vocabulary Learning platform “Learning Chocolate” (learningchocolate.com),
- Tricider website (tricider.com),
- free online tutorials for learning to use technology and ICT in education (teachertrainingvideos.com),
- DVolver Moviemaker (dvolver.com),
- Bubblr – a tool to create comic strips using photos from flickr.com (pimpampum.net/bublr),
- Bookr – a tool to create and share your own photobook using Flickr images (pimpampum.net/bookr),
- TitanPad which lets many people work on one document simultaneously (titanpad.com),
- Jing allows to capture quick images and videos of your screen to share instantly with anyone with your comments (techsmith. com).
Jing is useful to show and explain how to use a website, a platform or anything else. In the Jing video it is possible to show them both the right strategies and tricks that help them find the meaning they are looking for. These two factors: immediacy and catering for personal need, I find, ensures deeper understanding and retention of the lesson material over a longer period of time.
I also used Jing to explain parents and children how to use different online learning tools, such as voki, which kids loved playing around with during the lesson. I often make screen casts revisiting the words/expressions/ structures they needed help with in terms of meaning, usage and pronunciation, including a few mini-exercises they had to do with them. Students' feedback has been very positive and they all said how useful it was for them to hear the words they had problems with in class again, and giving them opportunities to practise them on their own in a personalized way.
Another teaching strategy I have developed is that I type up the lesson notes for the students during the lesson. So at the end of the lesson, before I make the Jing screen cast all I have to do is to edit my notes a bit and add a few exercises depending on the type of problems students had determining the 5. After some time of using Jing as a teaching tool, I encouraged learners to use it to collaborate with each other. I asked students to choose an online tool that helps them along their studies. Then they used Jing to explain and share their
thoughts on these tools explaining how they use them. You could also save these links on a class wiki or a class blog to make it easily accessible to them. Alternatively, students can also send these to each other. The same can be done with their favorite videos, including how they found the link, and explaining why they like them giving them extra speaking practice.
- It allows me to give students immediate reinforcement work on any language points we have worked with during the lesson
- Because it allows my teaching to be personalised, focusing on the things MY students need. The homework is based on questions students had and issues that came up during the lesson, not just the typical course-book exercises that may not fill in all the language gaps students want and need at that given moment.
- Not only does it help me highlight language points but it also gives students further listening practice. i.e. the lesson almost continues with the teacher outside the classroom walls.
- It is a versatile tool that gives opportunities to integrate different language points, features and skills all in one at the same time, a way of teaching I believe in.
- Another great feature I love about it is that it helps learners learn in a collaborative way, it helps teaching and learning go on after the f2f lesson.
- Lyrics Training helps language learners to learn new vocabulary and expressions and reinforce grammar concepts through continuous exercise of writing the missing words; it also helps to train learner’s ear to improve the capacity to recognize sounds and words of a foreign language in a very short time and to listen to various accents pronunciations (lyricstraining.com).
- Free interactive and printable lessons in 7 levels including lesson plans, handouts, activities, and online resources (breakingnews english. com), and some others.
To sum everything up, I would like to repeat, that information and communication technologies are widely spread nowadays, and it is hard to imagine the process of teaching without it. ICT enable students to raise the level of knowledge, facilitate information access, help to organize and percept the material. These reasons are just the small part of a great number of arguments for usage of information and communication technologies when teaching foreign languages.
- Barton,G. (2006) ICT in English www. longman.co.uk/tt-seceng/curric-sup/ websites /article.htm (10/4/2006)
- Becta. (2006) Benefits and features of ICT in English. ICT in the Curriculum. http:// curriculum.becta.org.uk/docserver.php/?docid=657 (11/4/2006)
- Becta. (2006) ICT in the Curriculum http:// curriculum.becta.org.uk/
- Edmodo platform https:// www. edmodo.com/