Article

Don't forget the Pedagogy

<![CDATA[N.B. In using the term “pedagogy“, I am subsuming “andragogy” as well, the principles of educating adult learners.

Every day I read about lots of new applications on twitter and in all the blogs there is a plethora of posts about these new toys. Suddenly, we have all, miraculously and, it seems overnight, turned into  edtech experts.

All it takes, is access to the application’s page, knowledge of how to embed a youtube tutorial into a  blog post, and you are in business.

There is great enthusiasm about many new and truly wonderful tools, but this sometimes washes over other tools which can be problematic or have issues that are not easy to spot at first glance.

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I have seen some great discussions but they are the exception, not the rule. Very little is said about the methodological issues surrounding some of these new tools, their advantages and drawbacks, in fact, what most well-trained teachers instinctively start thinking about.

I know, I know, it’s up to me to think about these things, but my readership is not only made up of experienced and well trained teachers and teacher trainers. I write for novice teachers, too, hoping to engage them and encourage them to begin or continue their professional development in one of the many ways available to all of us…

Technology is the means, not the end

Technology is wonderful when it is not the end but the means to education, language acquisition, whatever it is that we want to use it for…. it should enhance our lessons, not take over because all the members of our PLN seem to be doing nothing else!

Let’s move with the times but let’s move in a principled way, not because it’s the fad or because we saw that kid on the video telling us off!!!

And, anyway, we know it wasn’t the kid writing the script, it was his dad! The dad is right, of course, in the essence of his message to educators,  but the delivery of the message should not scare us into mindless adoption of everything… Nor should it cancel out or negate methods and techniques which work well and claim than the only good teacher is a tech-savvy teacher.

Managing change with some caution

This is a time of change – true, the change is rather too rapid for some people’s comfort, but it is a time of change, nevertheless, and innovations introduced into any school programme in a hasty and haphazard way have failed so many times in the past, it should be a lesson in caution for us all.

For this reason, I am about to start a new series of blog posts looking at different applications singly or in groups and discussing their uses, advantages or drawbacks and, ideally and if I have the time or the inspiration, add a lesson idea at the end of each post.

The first application which caught my eye today, and which I will be able to write about tomorrow or Monday, is one I read about today in Ana Maria Menezes’ great blog Life Feast .  The application is called ReadTheWords and if you would like to commment on it already, please feel free to do so.

P.S. This is a pre-blog-post post, in the new fashion set by the major trendsetter and great blogger-storyteller-author-actor-friend and fellow-twitterer, Ken Wilson.

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Related Blog Posts

Tech Tools & Pedagogy I – ReadtheWords, Voki & Xtranormal

Tech Tools & Pedagogy II – Word Clouds


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50 replies »

  1. great insight.
    and great redirect.

    i think we need to focus on needs in the classroom. focus on our students’ learning.
    too much focus is on tools and i’m thinking that’s what is keeping some teachers away. there’s no way to keep up.

    maybe even poll to find the greatest needs in the classroom. then share the tools that work best for that.

    thank you dear.

  2. Great post.I loved it.’Technology is wonderful when it is not the end but the means to education’ This statement summarises everything.

  3. Hi Marisa,

    This is the first time I have commented on your blog, my name is Mark Andrews and I work as a teacher trainer in Budapest.

    I agree with you on this:
    “Very little is said about the methodological issues surrounding some of these new tools, their advantages and drawbacks, in fact, what most well-trained teachers instinctively start thinking about.”

    Gordon Lewis, who I’ve worked with twice in Serbia on teacher development courses, gave a very good talk on this at our IATEFL conference in Hungary in October.
    http://www.iatefl.hu/docs/2009conf/Gordon_Lewis_Plenary_IATEFL-Hungary_2009.pdf

    I used to train former Russian teachers back in 1990 when they suddenly found themselves out of a job in Czechoslovakia and I think many of the issues to do with helping good teachers to cope with a different technological environment are similar to those we faced then. We should always make sure that teachers don’t feel deskilled just because they aren’t as fast as some people in mastering new appliances, on the other hand we should create as supportive environment as possible for those teachers who do want to embrace new things.

    The other thing is that discussing with our learners what they can do to create a better learning environment in the classroom and how they can become, in the words of my colleague Simon Gieve, better learning partners for each other, can often have more impact than using a new application. And discussions about how together we might use a new application to create more learning opportunities for all is likely to lead to a more focused and appropriate use of the technology itself.

    Thanks for the post Marisa and am looking forward to reading your other thoughts on these things! Cheers Mark!

  4. Well said, Marisa – have been thinking along these lines for a while now and it was one of the things that was annoying me about the tech or no tech conversation.

    Because whether or not you use technology or don’t use technology (some teachers wanting to stick to serving up cups of tea and sitting round the kitchen table), the question is “are the students learning” and “how” and “why” … so looking forward to more of this series.

    Karenne

  5. Being selective in using new tech makes sense. If your lessons plans are broken down to 1 minute increments – as my CELTA training impressed upon me – then how much time can you waste with technical failure? Say, a slow web connection.

    Also, if computers are breaking down our social skills, as some people argue, then the classroom can try to revive face-to-face communication. Any teachers have complaints about introverted students?

    I’ve had great success with the simplest technology:
    youtube videos, slide show presentations, emailing. Never had any reason to get more sophisticated. I lost count of the number of powerpoint failures at conferences.

    (Got to admit, I’m intrigued with that “Read the Words” site).

  6. Hello to all my blog visitors and thank you for posting your comments here.

    @Monica, my original aim was not to create a list but I don’t see why we could not all eventually chip in to suggest and/or vote on one or more lists of top applications.

    @Eva, yes, I truly believe that we should take a little time to reflect on the pedagogy of each new tool whether it involves technology or not.

    @Mark, I really liked the link and the slide show you linked to this post. Thanks ever so much for sharing this here and on Twitter. You have made an important comment about teachers feeling deskilled. Is there a new elite au fait with all these new wonders and everyone else might as well feel worthless? I also liked your point about negotiating both the learning environment as well as the use of new technologies with our learners… Finally, this is the second time you are posting here…ahhh…ze little grey cells…about the SEETA conference and “the bus ticket approach” which I must confess to being very naughty (busy is the synonym, in fact) and have not yet looked for the originator of this reference term.

    @Karenne, ma tres chere, yes, quite…teach English through embroidery if you like, as long as it works and you know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. And I think a lot of people are using new tech stuff rather indiscriminately, or not at all, again indiscriminately… I am not of course claiming that this is going to be the definitive series of blog posts to end all this or that. But I do think we need to start talking to each other, both about stuff that works well but also about tools that haven’t been thought through really carefully.

    @Duncan, you started this discussion in Facebook and thanks for graciously complying with my request to copy-paste your comment here. This is not a series of posts where I am disputing the value or otherwise of technology in general. I must clarify this straight away. I am a technophile and do already use quite a lot of technology – I do also plan to use a LOOOOT more. this blog post series is about examining the value of various tools, it’s a troubleshooting series, if you like, or aspires to be one when it does get off the ground. But thanks for contributing and making your point.

    Thank you all again for stopping by and giving me even more food for thought.

  7. I feel like so many great applications and web 2.0 tools are shared without critical engagement because so much of it is done on Twitter, which doesn’t take well to more than a a shout out and a link. Most blog posts also tend to be rather short and don’t lend themselves to long discussions on methodology.

    I think you’re asking the right questions Marissa and I look forward to seeing you engage this issue.

  8. Oh, I agree Nick, Twitter is not the place where I expect more than a mention, but blogs are good places to talk about these applications in some more detail.

    Let’s hope more people engage in such discussions and thank you for being part of this one.

    Marisa

  9. Excellent idea for a blog direction. While there are many many tools I have “under consideration,” I have struggled with exactly how to incorporate their use beyond that of bells and whistles. That is not to say that I do not think there are many pedagogically sound uses. It may be that what I really need right now is a convincing argument (to both students and parents!) for their inclusion in the curriculum. Therefore, I am excited for your future blogs posts and I hope each becomes a forum for further discussion. While student engagement and enthusiasm is great, student learning is the key.

  10. Thanks for posting here, Tom.

    I have been thinking quite a lot about how to organise this series of posts and about what criteria to use. I would truly appreciate some feedback from you and any other reader who has a bright idea!

    Some of the categories I have come up with include things such as:

    – How much teacher preparation time does this involve?
    – What age group does this tool work best with?
    – What age group should it not be used with?
    – What assumptions on availability of technology does it make?
    – What assumptions about tech-savviness in the students does the tool make?
    – What difficulties might the students have if using this tool independently of the teacher?

    The brainstorming session is on!!!!

  11. The question of technology v. pedagogy has been around for as long as I have been involved in using computers to teach foreign languages (mainly German and French), i.e. since 1976. On the one hand, one should never lose sight of established pedagogical and methodological approaches that appear to work, but on the other hand one should keep an eye on emerging technologies and consider ways in which they might be applied to language learning and teaching to do things that cannot easily be done with other media. There are many examples of the latter, dating back to Higgins and Johns in the early 1980s, who gave us Total Cloze (Storyboard and its descendents) and Data-Driven Learning, neither of which would have been possible without the use of computers.

    I think it’s high time we stopped talking about ICT as if it were something special. It’s no more special to me now than the tape recorder was when I began my career as a language teacher in the mid-1960s. For me, ICT is “normal” (v. Stephen Bax). I use a computer every day for several hours per day, not so much for teaching now as I am theoretically retired, but I would find life without the computer very inconvenient. Last week I paid my telephone, gas and electricity bills online, bought new vehicle tax discs for both my cars, checked the snow reports in anticipation of my skiing holiday in January, sent photos to friends and relatives in Canada, the USA and Australia, etc. I also toured a few Spanish sims in Second Life in order to improve my knowledge of Spanish.

    However, I do see signs of some (mainly younger) teachers being dazzled by the technology and not seriously thinking how it might be usefully applied. But they soon grow out it and make their choices more carefully. Interestingly, the module on methodology at the ICT for Language teachers website (Module 2.1) has consistently been the least visited module since the site was launched 10 years ago:
    http://www.ict4lt.org/en/en_mod2-1.htm

    Finally, is it also not high time that we ditched terms such as Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL), Technology Enhanced Language Learning (TELL) and Web 2.0? They all appear outdated now. The first two terms were coined in the 1980s and Web 2.0 appeared in 2004. For newcomers to the Web, Web 2.0 IS the Web – and for “silver surfers” like me. Did you know that the over-65s spend on average four hours more time per week online that the supposedly always-on 18-24s? See the CIBER Project Briefing Paper (2008) Information behaviour of the researcher of the future:
    http://www.ucl.ac.uk/infostudies/research/ciber/downloads/ggexecutive.pdf

    Graham

  12. Hi Marisa!

    well, someone had to say all this, and by raising your head above the parapet, you have made yourself a target for both flowers and rotten tomatoes.

    I like the way you champion new teachers and the problems they face. What must they make of the extra load of information they receive as part of the ‘this is how you teach’ basic methodology training?

    I’m particularly pleased with your position on this subject because of the nagging feeling I get every time I read something about technology.

    The following may not be your opinion at all, but this is how it strikes me:

    The fantastic thing about Web 2.0 applications in language learning is the amount of practice it offers. Absolutely no question in my mind that web-based procedures are brilliant for developing your language skills.

    But the nagging doubt I always have is …. at what point do the students actually LEARN the language they can then go on to PRACTISE through blogs, wikis, podcasts and all the other fascinating possibilities offered by the web?

    Teachers still need training in direct, face-to-face engagement with pupils, which hopefully causes language to be acquired in some way.

    Or maybe they don’t. Maybe my style of teaching is a bit out of date. Hm… old dogs, etc….

  13. @Ken Wilson

    Dear Ken, thanks for responding – I though I felt that red round object brush past me and wanted to check it with you – thanks for confirming… 🙂

    My intention was not actually to doubt the value of technology but I do sense a closing of the ranks, a flap in the wind….

    I have those nagging thoughts as well about incorporating technology at all levels and ending in the classroom at the level of individual lessons and activities, and do want to discuss them and explore them here – this is my forum and it works for me…

    If for some people these are issues resolved, well, they simply do not have to read this blog.

    Thanks for dropping by and leaving your comment.

  14. @Graham

    Dear Graham,

    I am truly honoured and thrilled you decided to comment on my blog given your expertise and long experience in ICT but with all due respect, I think it is not appropriate to tell another blogger what to write, even if you have a very good reason.

    This blog post or series is not opening up an old argument about technology or not technology and if your learning curve is different to my learning curve and I am learning now what you learnt 50 years ago, well, I will go through the paces of my learning in my own time and my own way.

    So will my readers – all three of them!!!! 🙂

    For me there is a very good reason to write what I want to write and am a little concerned that your wording is almost exactly like Gavin’s over at his blog…. Is there some applecart that I have upset?

    As for the links you have given me – they are great and many thanks – but since you have submitted them and made a comment about how infrequently the methodology page(s) were visited, well, I would be happy to send you a commentary about them via email – if of course you are interested

    Thank you for visiting and contributing to this discussion.

  15. Hi Marisa

    I feel that things are racing ahead in the technology world. I believe that having a series of blog posts like you suggest, is an excellent idea and will surely help to clarify the pedagogical rationale behind new tools and demystify the process.

    Maybe if applicable, to introduce a “low tech” version of some new applications might be useful. Not every teacher has all the facilities that are implied with some new e-tools.

    I am not against e-tools per se, as long as they add something to a lesson which was missing before. That is the crux of the question. What do they add? Is it just “razzamatazz” or is it pedagogically sound to incorporate such things? I honestly and truthfully think that there are enough hi-tech tools and programmes to last the average educator for years, without any more new ones coming in thick and fast on almost a daily basis! Perhaps I am a bit biased. I would love to just focus on a few quality ones and experiment with them for the next few years.

    Having said all the above, however, my curiosity does get the better of me and I do enjoy reading about what is “out there”. I also love experimenting with tools which look cool! It’s the inquisitive teacher in me, I guess.

    I really look forward to your new series.

  16. Ken,

    “But the nagging doubt I always have is …. at what point do the students actually LEARN the language they can then go on to PRACTISE through blogs, wikis, podcasts and all the other fascinating possibilities offered by the web?”

    Bet they learn more through talking to people around the world than they do from roleplays in Turkish baths, readings about Tom Hanks and grammar exercises on the present perfect.

    Bet ya…

    Gavin

  17. Marisa,

    You and I are not disagreeing – we both see the value of technologies in the classrom. My blog posting referencing this one is merely to point out that it is a ‘non-tech’ fallacy that proposes that teachers who use technologies are blinded by the flashing lights, and that their pedagogical knowledge and critical faculties diesappear as soon as they see a hard drive.

    Gavin

  18. How very odd, I feel like I read a different post from the one people are responding too… my take is simply that you will look at the different tools and discuss the pedagogy in the ways we use them.

    I often supply lesson plans with tech tips incorporated in them… you’ll simply be looking at doing something like that, rather than lesson-plan, how to use – tool, pedagogy…

    Nothing wrong with that, sounds brilliant to me.
    Karenne

  19. Marisa, you are so right! Web 2.0 (I’m still calling it that) offers us so many apparent gems – free – that it’s easy to be greedy – pile up your plate with things you don’t really need, just cos they’re there. I actually find it’s often teachers who are less tech-savvy (or tech-interested) who can be more discerning. They suddenly see one tool among the ones I’m showing them and realise that it will help them solve a problem they have, rather than just add frills (sometimes very valuable frills).

    I also agree with Ken, learners need language input at some stage and the web seems very lacking in that department – a good thing perhaps as it keeps us in jobs!

    I really like Nik Peachey’s blogs (eg http://nikpeachey.blogspot.com/) because he examines new tools critically and suggests how they can be used. Really looking forward to reading yours too. Good luck – hope it’s not too time-consuming!

  20. Hi Gavin and thanks for mentioning my post on your blog.

    I don’t think you misread my intentions but I think you are right that other people may have misread yours, so I thought I should clarify that I did not intend to restart an argument which I think is superfluous.

    I do believe that technology is here to stay and that it can greatly enhance our teaching and our training. I am truly excited by the richness it has brought to my own teaching and training and to lessons taught by my trainees.

    And if perhaps for someone like yourself or for Nik Peachy (or even others I may not even have heard of) my blog postings examining and evaluating new tools are as superfluous as the argument of tech vs not-tech, I hope they aren’t for some of my readers who might find some use or value in (re)reading what may have been posted elsewhere. Different people respond to different voices and mine is just that – one more voice, hopefully reflective and supportive rather than lazy and ill-informed.

    I do believe that a lot of people are excited but confused about what to choose and would not mind hearing another viewpoint. By discussing the various tools flashing past my eyes on Twitter in the more relaxed and less pressured time-frame of a blog, the effect can only be positive, I think, or not? I don’t see a problem with that, unless of course my comments and evaluations prove to be complete rubbish. But I am sure you will be around to point this out in whatever manner you deem appropriate.

    Anyway, just to put a lid on this rather fruitless argument which I am sure you did not intend to turn into a personal one (I am a rather easy target, after all), my posts are going to be looking at various tools and applications to create a list of tools, their merits and demerits, potential value or problems and to relate those to assumptions about language learning – that’s what I want to do and will do.

    And just because I am in the middle of a heavy assessment week and haven’t got much time, I will simply copy and paste the same comment over at your blog and thank you here and there for commenting and responding.

  21. Marisa,

    I think your idea for a series like that is spot on and will prove to be very helpful to a lot of people. The purpose of my posting was to ensure that we laid to rest the ghost of the spurious ‘they’re blinded by science’ argument which some people seem to believe is a decent justification for writing technologies off.

    As you’ll note, I don’t have a beef with your posting, nor the idea for a series, nor shall I be hovering waiting to find loopholes… your experience with technology shines through in the training you do (and I know this first hand) and the writing you do and I know it will be a fine series. I was merely trying to head off another fruitless (you said it!) debate about whether those who teach with technologies do so from an air-head position of ‘if it flashes, it must be good’.

    Looking forward to the series,

    Gavin

  22. @Janet, I am as excited as you but really do want to spend some time thinking and discussing some of the tools that have caught my eye – some are great and so easy to use, others require more than the “low-tech” skills you mention, which involves the majority of the people I am training.

    @Karenne, how very odd indeed… I am just as mystified as you… makes life exciting though…. 🙂

    @Joanna, Web 2.0…I am just as passe as you I am afraid…Only I don’t know what to call it now! Nik’s blogs are brilliant – no way I could replicate his tech-savviness or posts…

    Thank you all very much for stopping by and for your encouraging comments.

  23. Marisa, thank you so much for this post. I don’t see it as a perpetuation of the pro-tech/ no-tech debate which continues to ensue, but as trying to provide a voice for teachers who are aiming to incorporate technology constructively and thoughtfully into their practice.

    I think I embody the relatively inexperienced teacher to which you allude, and I have been completely overwhelmed by all of the technology tools out there, many of which have been brought to my attention via the marvel of Twitter. I have been particularly concerned with how to use many of them effectively, bearing in mind what I have learned so far with regard to pedagogy. As per my comment on Gavin’s blog, I feel that often an assumption is made, by those who provide these links, that teachers will instinctively know how to use the tools in class. Which, I confess, I don’t the majority of the time.

    I am really excited about the series you’re working on, and think it will stand me in good stead for when I start the DELTA next year.

    THANK YOU 🙂

  24. Callie,

    You know, in the back burner of my mind, I have also been thinking about my own DELTA trainees – in their exam, which by coincidence is happening today in the room next door as we speak (!!!!), they are required to look at print materials and identify their underlying assumptions (another word for principles).

    At the present moment of time, this exam is on paper and about activities on paper but I can see a time in the future when, by necessity the questions may be about ICT tools and, even, the exam itself may be online!

    Who knows?

    But any discussion here can only have a positive effect on your thinking about paper based activities too when you do do your DELTA.

  25. Marisa, I was not aware that I was even attempting to tell you what to write. I was merely pointing out that the pedagogy/technology debate has been going on for a very long time – and, of course, it needs to be reawakened from time to time to ensure that we don’t lose sight of it.

    As for my learning curve, it’s still continuing but, given my age, I now find it harder to walk up the steep parts.

    Graham

  26. In my school there are 2 computer labs with at least 20 computers in each, we also have a projector and an IWB and the government is talking about giving each student a laptop to take it at home.

    This looks wonderful on paper, but in practice things are quite different.

    First of all, the computer lab is so packed with equipment that the computers block the little ones (think of 3 to 8 yr old ones specially) from even seeing the projector; the IWT is one that needs a pen which can break if it falls once and again and again, instead of being tactile (think of pre-school kids and the choice between a breakeable pen or tactile, ummmm) add to this the fact that it’s fixed high up on the wall with desks and chairs in front of it. I haven’t even started talking about the convenience of the programs. Ummmm don’t forget the pedagogy!

    Ps Did I mention that my school doesn’t even have a library? Hard to believe but true. However, I’m on twitter, on facebook, I have my blog, I know how to create digital stories and activities… I can be the teacher of the youtube child!

  27. @Graham Davies

    Dear Graham, perhaps you did not – I stand corrected if I went into overdrive! It may have looked to me that way on the day this was posted what with one comment and the other!

    @Conchi Martinez de Tejada

    Ho ho… it does look like an innovation badly mismanaged, Conchi… If you head over to Gavin’s blog, that’s exactly what he’s talking about today! You may be able to be the teacher of the youtube child, but it doesn’t look like your educational system is putting the child in a “youtube child” state of readiness to be taught by someone like you!

  28. OK, Marisa, you’re forgiven. I must admit that I have a tendency to look back at the past a lot these days, probably because I have a longer past than anticipated future, and I have a need to publicise my views before the sand runs out – which it almost did three years ago. I think you were present at this panel discussion:

    Virtual Round Table panel discussion, shared with Ton Koenraad, Vance Stevens and Duane Sider (President, Rosetta Stone), on the theme “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (George Santayana 1863–1952), The Life of Reason, Volume 1, 1905), 7pm GMT, 13 November:

    http://virtual-round-table.ning.com/events/virtual-panel-discussion-those

    https://admin.emea.acrobat.com/_a789908106/p63251182/

    The article I wrote for the Council of Europe in 1996, “Lessons from the past, lessons for the future” is in a similar vein. I revised it a few days ago. A lot has changed, but many old attitudes remain:

    http://www.camsoftpartners.co.uk/coegdd1.htm

    Regards
    Graham

  29. Hi Marisa, Long time listener, first time caller…. ; P

    Like this post a lot… it’s good to see someone stand back from the tech / non-tech debates and address what teachers really need to think about. Some of this stuff is good, but let’s assess everything on it’s own merits, and in context. I hate to do this, and I wouldn’t if I didn’t think it apposite, but I put together a checklist for assessing edtech tools for a presentation last month, over here http://www.livesofteachers.com/2009/11/20/choosing-the-technology-that-works-for-you/

    Interested to see the DELTA mentioned. When I took it not so long ago using a dvd in class was more than hi-tech, but as I understood it the revamp had introduced the potential for more critical assessments of technology? I’m not sure where it would fit, mind you, it’s a pretty exhausting experience as it is!

    Thanks Marisa!

  30. Good checklist Darren and your talk was also good for inspiration.

    At the moment I am not thinking in terms of a grand cover-all-aspects checklist but rather smaller ones to fit similar types of applications.

    May be at some later point I can attempt one, or someone else might be inspired and come up with one.

    The DELTA syllabus has in fact changed to include ICT in a more explicit way and despite what I said in previous comment, on second thoughts, technology could be tested even now in Paper 2 of the Module I written exam, where candidates are required to write a comment on some aspect of methodology. And of course now Module III could be focusing on this topic in a way that DELTA courses have never before dealt with new technologies.

  31. I see great sense in online communication for students for motivation and fluency, and would love a debate on how to organize feedback and self/peer/teacher evaluation of such activities.
    🙂 Anne

  32. Thanks Marisa.

    I suppose the difficulty for the novice teacher is assessment of the tools available (thousands!) for their particular context. And to go back to the DELTA, I found it very useful to analyse textbooks in such depth… but those same methods aren’t quite going to work with new technologies. Not least because the web-based tools we are using now were never designed for ELT. Textbook writers build the language and the pedagogy into materials for us, we just have it draw it out; Web tools generally have no such luxuries, have to add them OURSELVES. Both liberating and daunting, isn’t it?

  33. As a novice teacher and ‘Twitterer’ I am often overwhelmed by the plethora of tech applications that can be used in education. I need assistance in learning how to understand the profound changes that are occuring in education in this digital age. I find myself thinking, time and again, “Don’t just show me a new tool, show me how to apply it in the classroom.” I look forward to your posts that will discuss the pedagogy behind the application of these tools.

  34. Hi there Marisa

    I only just came across this now, and I see there are already 35 comments which probably means I won’t be adding anything new. However, if it’s okay, I wanted to add my voice to the others in welcoming this series of posts on social media and how they can work. I’m off now to check Readthewords – never heard of that before!

    Lindsay

  35. Marisa,

    Great thoughts and also from others! I agree that we have to arm teachers more with “how” the tools/applications might fit into their curriculum and delivery than with just basic declarations of “here’s another wonderful website!”.

    I try to do that with actual lessons that use them, well described. Then teachers can decide for themselves their efficacy and how they fit with their own students/teaching style/curriculum etc…. But you are right – we should be talking more and thinking more critically about these applications. And slowing down – not flitting around…

    As for ReadtheWords. I loved it when it was free. Now it is just a glorified, pay me for something that really doesn’t cost a lot of money site. We should keep this commercialism out of education and that’s a consideration I’d like everyone who posts about a website or tool to address for new teachers.

    Cheers,
    David

  36. @Anne Hodgson: It would be nice if I got feedback from a variety of colleagues on their student responses. The adult learners I have contact with attend free classes at my centre and most of them are refugees and many of them out of work – not the most highly privileged group to put it mildly. Some of them do not even have emails but all of them have mobile phones (population on the move and under persecution…)

    We do offer them access to the school computers before and after their lessons but, unfortunately I haven’t got that many, as many as they would need.

    @Darren, yes, I think for teachers it can be quite daunting – just had a revision session pre-DELTA exam on underlying principles and assumptions on published materials, and even there, teachers are often not certain about the value of this over that activity.

    @Ms_Dem thank you for commenting. I am not all that tech-savvy myself, despite what Gavin said in his comment earlier, but am quite an experienced troubleshooter. In the words of Ernest Heminway, to be a good writer, the first quality you must have is a “crap detector”, the ability to distinguish good writing from crap writing (excuse my French but this is a verbatim quote, not my own words). So if my posts help you flex up your detector muscles, I shall be ecstatic!

    @Lindsay how can I thank you for the absolutely wonderful honour of stopping by and commenting on this small-time blog post…. Thank you ever so much….. 🙂

    Was that enough?

    I think my pre-post post has generated some rather high expectations of me, and I have found several problems posting and embedding the applications I want to work with – edublogger is not a friendly environment for multiple embeddings…Hmmmm. I shall try to trick it in a devious way… if I can…

  37. David,

    I think the comments here are more interesting than the original post! I also think that your idea of showing tools in lessons is great – makes teachers (especially new teachers) see things in perspective.

    I am in fact trying to look at applications that are free access. Teachers are not paid a lot and administrators are loath to part with their money… so I will be looking mostly at what the free versions can do for us.

  38. Linda,

    Absolutely! The objectives come first, not the tools! And we should choose them only if they fit those objectives and they can help achieve them in some way which is enhanced or equivalent at least to trying to fulfil it same objective without technology.

    Goal setting both at the syllabus level as well as at lesson level is quite a difficult skill to master for many teachers, but especially for the novice teacher; it is equally difficult sometimes to decide whether a particular technique, activity or tool will work well towards fulfilling those goals, so some comments in that direction are always useful and very very welcome.

    Marisa

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