Technology in your classes – Nour Alkhalidy

Truly Integrating Technology — Nour Alkhalidy

I am a computer teacher who works at a school in a poor village where technology is kind of a big deal.  Some of my students don’t have access to the Internet in their houses. Many do not even have a PC at home. At school, some teachers don’t know how to use computers. Others only utilize them in some way. It is rare to find teachers who are really integrating computers and technology into their classrooms. I am one of the few who is trying to do this. I have been working at this for eight years.

Being a teacher who is trying to integrate technology in such a context has been a little bit challenging for me.  Still, although I have had some discouraging moments, my mission has been and is to create a rich environment for my students by introducing new technologies into my classroom – technologies that actively engage and motivate learners while helping me successfully deliver content.

Before planning to integrate a new technology I always consider two issues:  my students’ weak basic computer skills and the school’s limited Internet access.  Given these parameters, I always look for simple tools that can be used offline. As I design my lesson, I think about how a simple tool can be used to enhance clear curriculum goal and try to incorporate a strategy (often a cooperative strategy) related to such a goal. Then I design activities, making sure each separate group within my class has a task or problem to solve. I also think through how much time a task will take, what roles each student in each group will have, what instructions to give, and what the final output will be.

Personally, If the technology tool I have chosen fulfills subject content goals, improves computer, thinking, and collaboration skills,  engages and motivates students, and more importantly convinces me that I cannot proceed without it, then for me I have successfully integrated technology in my classroom.

I usually prepare my lessons using Powerpoint — the old tool that will never die — to explain tasks and instructions.  Sometimes I use it as a learning tool to design a virtual tour or micro-lesson.

I also use Microsoft’s FrontPage to design webquests,  online scavenger hunts or 5Eonline research modules. Multi-media tools, mindmaps and word cloud applications are also at the top of my technology list to promote visual literacy.

For project work, I tell students they can bring their parents’ cell phones to class in order to capture pictures, record their voices and do interviews. We also use cell phones along with Microsoft Photo Story or Movie Maker  to create videos that showcase work, summarize ideas,  display knowledge on a subject,  or share thoughts about the project we’re doing. They also use cell phones to gain internet access that allows them to extend their learning by finding additional information they then add to a FrontPage website made by them.

I’ve been involved in some global projectson Twitter like Michal Ann C’s (@CernigliaSharing Perceptions Project in which my 9th grade students in Jordan shared their  thoughts about the U.S. with Michael-Ann’s 6th grade students.  In Jordan, my students and I used Tagxedo and Wordle to present brainstorming ideas, and Vokito express our thanks for being involved in the project.

Sometimes, I have 10-15 minutes  at the end of a class for a group game. Playing games enhances students’ attitudes and motivates them. For example, a simple game like FreeCellor Tetrisoffers some opportunities for group collaboration and improving thinking skills, while a Rapid Typing Game improves  basic computer skill and kills classroom boredom.

I may not have iPads, iPods or laptops in my classroom and my students aren’t adequately digitally savvy learners equipped with the needed skills, but I certainly believe that any technology can be powerful — even the simplest one if it is being used in the right way. It’s not about what tool to integrate but how to exploit its effectiveness and add real value to the learning process.

As a computer teacher, my role is to mainly help my students benefit from technology’s opportunities, improve their computer and information literacies skills (along with other 21st century skills), and finally to reduce the big gap between what the world is like in my poor village with the life my students will have in college and beyond. If I can do those things, then I consider all the challenges I face worth every effort.


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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.


Technology in your classes – Anna Loseva

My Tech Journey

I’m a teacher on a journey.  On the one hand, I realize that one shouldn’t rely on technology too much. On the other hand, I can’t keep from using it more and more, almost like an addict. I’m neither a webhead nor a noob, but I’m thrilled by technology’s potential in our profession, and I don’t think I’m about to quit exploring what’s possible with what’s available, becoming available, and still at this moment, though not for long, unavailable. I’m figuring it all out, and I’m fascinated. It wasn’t always like this, though.

Six years ago, I was teaching at a private school where the most advanced technology I had available was the CD player we used to do coursebook listening activities.  Four years ago, while teaching my first in-company classes, I got the chance to use a laptop in classes, and we used that to do coursebook listening activities, watch BBC news and browse business company websites  — when we had an Internet connection. That’s it.  My knowledge and understanding of what I could do with tech in classes was very limited and very unimaginative.

Things went on like this for a while, but as I began to explore more a light began to go off in my head. About a year ago, that light became so bright I simply had to get my students involved and I over-excitedly plunged them into a technological world with a kind of hyper-zest. I introduced them to social media, web 2.0 tools, various applications, mobile learning solutions, numerous resources of numerous kinds and the wealth of materials available online. Following those early unimaginative days, I wanted desperately to make up for what I’d been missing and I simply had to take my students with me.  Don’t worry, though. That was last year.

I have now calmed down a bit, and will share with you the more measured ways I’ve used technology with my university students this term.

  • We used a Vkontakte (the Russian equivalent of Facebook) group for announcements, course requirements, links, lesson materials, and interactive home tasks. This was our online learning hub.
  • We used Google Docs.  Once a week my students watched a Youtube or TED video and copied the link into the spreadsheet I prepared. Each Monday we started the lesson with 2-minute timed summaries of the videos. We found some real Internet diamonds that way and have a nice record of them all.
  • We kept a class blog on which we made short mobile phone recordings that we posted. Students drew posters, supplied these with recorded descriptions, and posted those as well. We also posted student work – with permission.
  • We used Linoit once to recap a discussion, and I shared a list of web 2.0 tools to try when preparing a presentation. Some of my students used Prezi, Go Animate and Voicethread.
  • During lessons, there wasn’t much chance we could use the Internet, so we explored the possibilities of mobile devices: taking pictures, playing podcasts, recording stories, using dictionaries, Googling things, and the like.

When I stop to think about how I’ve used technology, I realize that I went from not having it, to not using it imaginatively, to using it excessively, to now using it more judiciously. I hope that every time I encourage the use of this or that app or resource it is justified and appropriate. I hope it does not look like I force the use of tech as it is, in most cases, just one of the options available.

I know that what I’m doing is feeling my way through the abundance of possibilities, but I want to see what works and what fits into my teaching style and my learners’ learning styles. As I figure it out, I’ll be able to make better choices. By experimenting, I will find what’s best. It’s a journey, and the journey continues.


Technology in your classes – Christina Markoulaki

New Technologies and Traditional Values

Please view these slides before reading the article.

Computers will never fully replace teachers in the classroom, but teachers who know how to use computers and other forms of new technology will replace those who don’t.

I had frequently heard words to this effect said in university courses and the various seminars I attended, but I never quite believed it to be true. That was until I actually got centrally involved in education and got to experience for myself how quickly the profession is evolving. Now I do believe it to be true. Teachers who are unwilling to follow and adopt at least some of the novel practices made possible by advances in technology – the practices most suitable for their students at least – are going to be left far behind.

In the slides I’ve provided, I have tried to go beyond what is commonly said about EdTech by illustrating the ways I have employed it to encourage a traditional value: the reading of books in the foreign language. Yes, a technological innovation can and should be used to support a traditional value, such as the reading classical or modern English and American literature. Let me explain:

Why read books?

Because reading enables the learner to pay attention not only to each word individually, but also to the combination of words in a phrase and subsequently in a sentence. Learners do so at their own pace, which allows them to absorb new grammatical and lexical phenomena as well as consolidate the ones already seen. Through constant reading, not only do students practice the language, but they also sharpen their critical thinking skills.

Why teach reading by means of technology?

Because students, especially the younger ones, may not find reading English books to be the best pastime in the whole world! But what if this book is read on an electronic reader? Even better, it may be one of the new interactive kind of e-books which allow the reader to tap on the characters and listen to something or find out the meaning of an unknown word online. Then, book reading stops being a chore or dull homework and turns into an exciting game! An educational game, nonetheless.

How it all works.

The slides I’ve provided contain pictures and links to posts describing how the book reading experience can be enhanced by the use of social media and other Web 2.0 applications together with a mobile device — such as the iPad, in my case.

After choosing a suitable story or book for a particular reading stage and age group, teachers can urge students to:

Conduct online research before reading and try to predict what the story will be about

Exchange ideas through emails or blog/ wiki posts about which books to read next.

Post comments on the class blog while reading a story.

Narrate the story they have read on the class blog using as much of the new words as possible.

Participate in reading competitions (which could, for example, be organized together with their e-pals as we have done with our French friends and their resourceful teacher, Aniella Lebeau)

Record their voices when acting the story.

Collect links and thoughts in a wiki dedicated to that purpose.

Create projects which combine texts and images concerning the book (depiction and description of their favourite scene is one of my students’ top preferences).

Prepare activities on the story as if they were the teachers so as to test their classmates. These will be finally published on a wiki or Issuu, turning the document into a beautiful online magazine.

Fill in handouts describing cause and effect relationships, the course of the story and its climax, character qualities and so on which can and will be published on the class blog for further discussion

You can find most of the book activities I have implemented here.

I hope you will feel free to add your own ideas by leaving a comment. Use your imagination. Given your imagination combined with what’s possible with technology, there are no limits to how creative we can be in ELT.


Technology in your classes – Barbara Sakamoto

Technology is anything that wasn’t around when you were born.Barbara Hoskins Sakamoto

Alan Kay

I remember when video cassette players were the new tech toys in teaching. Schools wanted teachers to use videos in class in order to provide an edge in attracting students.  Teachers wanted to use videos because they were a new and exciting way to teach. The problem was, no one really knew how to use the things to do anything but watch passively. It took time for teachers to move beyond watching movies in class to using video as a tool to improve teaching practice.

Technology –in whatever form –is just one of many resources available to me as a teacher.  Since I only see my students for short time each week, I want to make the best use of that time.  A bit part of this is using my resources in the most effective way possible, whether I’m deciding to include a card game or an interactive website in a lesson. When I evaluate lesson resources, I always ask two questions: Is this appropriate for my students?  Does it improve on what I’m already doing in class?

Is it appropriate?

Sometimes it’s easy to tell if a something is appropriate for your students. You don’t give young learners unsupervised access to social networks, or you don’t ask students who haven’t learned the English alphabet to input large amounts of text. Tools can be appropriate or inappropriate because of the ages and skill levels of your students.

Sometimes, the decision about which tool is most appropriate depends more on which one makes the best use of your preparation time and your students’ class time. I’m a digital immigrant (who often feels more like a tourist than an immigrant) so every technology tool I consider has a learning curve. Before I can use something in class, I need to learn how to use it myself. I want to focus on tools that are simple to use, and rich enough that I can use them again and again. Generally, I want use tools to support the skills I’m trying to reinforce, rather than tools that become the focus of our lesson.

Finally, appropriate can refer to which tools are the best for a specific teaching context or group of learners. For example, I teach a few classes for senior citizens at a local community center. There’s no Internet available, and most of my students haven’t even applied for a tourist visa to the digital realm. However, they all have mobile phones, and most have electronic dictionaries. In this case, the tools they have available and are comfortable using are the most appropriate. Students can send English messages with their phones, we can compare English translations of Japanese words between different dictionaries (or compare pronunciation, or even check the built in encyclopedia). I can use my smart phone to find photos on Flickr to illustrate something we’re talking about, or do an online search to answer a question in class. I can bring in a digital recorder and my computer and we can use Power Point to create a narrated digital book. Or I can bring in a camcorder and we can record a video that I can upload from home. Rather than lamenting what I don’t have, it’s fun to figure out how to make the most of what is available.

Does it improve on what I’m already doing in class?

Pedagogy comes before tools. Teachers can and do have great lessons without technology. If my students are already speaking, and listening, and reading, and writing, and thinking, it makes sense to include a technology tool only if it will enhance what’s already going on. On the other hand, it would beequally silly to overlook any available resource that would help me do my job better. I’ve found that including even small amounts of technology can significantly improve my students’ learning experience.

Being able to create a digital comic strip as a final writing project makes the revision process complaint-free for my young teens. When my young learners see a camcorder, practice becomes rehearsal rather than repetition. Self-introductions become performance rather than speaking practice. Creating digital books makes writing fun for my emergent and reluctant writers. Putting book reports in blog posts gives students a real audience. Creating a collaborative alphabet book teaches my kindergarteners that English comes in many accents, and that children around the world are learning the same things.

In every case, adding a touch of technology improved on what I was already doing in class. And, because digital projects are online, they’re easy to share with parents, grandparents, and other teachers. If you’d like to see examples some of my students’ projects, please explore the workshop pages on the Teaching Village wiki [] or on our class blog, My Corner of the World. []. If you’ve used a technology tool to enhance your lessons, please share your experience in comments. I’d love to learn how you’ve incorporated technology in your own lessons!