Technology in your classes – Tamas Lorincz

The Technology of Self-discovery and Self-expression

Many teachers believe that technology is the thing you have to bring into your classroom to make your lessons more interesting. I don’t share this belief. I believe that the only thing that makes a class interesting is relevance. Context and purpose are the determining factors: not interesting websites, cool apps or funny videos.

I don’t use technology in my classes.  I use it to prepare for and to follow-up on what happens in my classes. Technology is in the classroom for the students to use. My job is to create meaningful lessons for my students so that they can use it when they think it’s relevant.

Children today from the age of 2 onwards have their own taste in the kind of technology that helps them express themselves. Sophie, my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, has definite tastes in the kind of content she enjoys. She has about 50 different apps and books on her iPad but she consistently chooses the five or six that she finds attractive.  She enjoys using those and they open up directions for her own inquiry. She doesn’t need clever Daddy to tell her which apps to use. She makes her own decisions and those decisions will lead on to new ones, different ones, and perhaps even better ones.

I love technology and consider myself really lucky to live, teach and have children in an age when we have almost complete freedom of learning and information. Being able to share all this learning and information is exhilarating: not because of the technology itself, but because of the freedom it provides, which includes the freedom of choosing not to live with it.

Why would I, as a teacher, try to impose specific types of technology – however ingenious – on my students!?  I believe that my job as a teacher is to let my students explore and experiment with whatever technology helps them learn and express themselves. When I use the word technology, I mean it in the widest possible sense.

It can be a pen and paper.  It can be a word processing programme. It can be a computer game or a social media platform.  I will always be as happy to give feedback on a piece of writing written on a piece of paper torn out of a Maths exercise book as I am when given a blog post or a video to comment on.

The only reason I have technology in my classrooms is to provide students with new opportunities of self-discovery and self-expression. Technology is an amazing tool that helps people learn about things they have never before encountered and become interested in things they didn’t previously consider interesting. One of the most uplifting things that can happen in a classroom is when a student you don’t feel you are reaching tells you about or shows you something they’ve done that blows your socks off.

I once gave my grade 11 students a topic, and asked them to write a blog post or a composition about it.  Two boys in the class decided to make a video instead. They spent weeks preparing it, and put more work into making that two-minute video than everything else they had done for the whole year. Was it a good video? Honestly, no, not really. Does it matter that it wasn’t? No it doesn’t matter at all. Did they learn anything in the process of creating the video? OH, YES.

Was it English? Well, there was that of course, but there was also so much else they learnt that I couldn’t help but feel very, very proud of them and of myself. The pride in their eyes when they presented their video was enough to blow my socks off and shut up the other cynical 17-18-year-olds in the classroom. For me, that’s what technology is all about.


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Tamas Lorincz

Tamas is an English teacher from Hungary who has just completed his MA in TESOL. Thus finishing his formal learning for the time being, he will be able to focus on what he is really interested in: informal learning, and gaining a better understanding of teaching by becoming a self-directed learner. Tamas at the moment works for a language testing agency in Hungary, and he concentrates on developing community platforms for language learning and practice. Tamas' blog: A journey into learning

10 thoughts on “Technology in your classes – Tamas Lorincz”

  1. Great post, Tamas!
    You’re quite right – no teacher should force tech per se down any student’s throat. It’s fantastic that you’re able to create interesting and meaningful lessons without the need for technology. What is important, however, is that you do not reject it and are willing to encompass it if you consider it necessary.

    The example of the pair who did the video is a prime example. Your task for the class was to write a blog post or a composition. I know teachers who don’t know the meaning of ‘blog’ and have no interest in finding out either. I know teachers who would say to the pair, “But, I said composition. I didn’t say video! Take that away and hand me the composition tomorrow or you’ll get a zero for it!”

    Bravo, Tamas!

  2. Thanks Chiew for reading and commenting. I think one of the greatest faults of institutionalised education is the way teachers give students tasks to which there is always only one good answer (and of course the clever teacher always knows that one correct answer) and anything other than that is dismissed as incorrect. We don’t encourage students to come up with their own answers but to second guess what we want. This attitude kills creativity and discourages thinking and nurtures a total unconditional trust in the teachers infallibility – things I consider intrinsically dangerous and counter-productive.

  3. Great post, Tamas, written with passion but also with great good sense. It’s a useful antidote to the view (purveyed by some proponents of technology) that if you don’t use technology in your classes – and I don’t mean just pen-and-paper – you are somehow doing your learners a disservice. Well done, Scott.

    1. Thanks, Scott. I am not blameless, of course. Jumping the bandwagon and using technology for its own sake is not something I have never done, I’m afraid. What I learnt from the experience was that students are not really impressed with you being the wizard.Trying to impress them is just not going to work. (it may a couple of times with a few students but it wears off very quickly.) They need to see why and how something you are doing in the classroom would be relevant to them. Since then I am trying to be very careful with first asking myself if the tool we are using for a specific class is something they would find useful or is it just something I think looks cool. I love technology and enjoy the immense opportunities it can offer to the students but I definitely try to refrain from the “Look-what-a-cool-teacher-I-am-because-I-know-how-to-press-this-button-very-cleverly” attitude. Thanks again, Scott.

    1. Thanks for the comment Naomi, I am glad you agree. It’s much harder work to try and give students something relevant that they find interesting – actually as I am writing this I realize how complicated the whole question of relevance is if you look at it carefully – and the whole grey are of interesting-relevant should be an interesting topic for discussion, I’m sure. Anyway, got a bit distracted but might get back to this point at some stage. Thais again, Naomi.

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