This post is also appears on my other blog Learning, Teaching, Thinking, Playing which is where I will be writing more often next year. Hopefully I will be able to put together a technoLanguages Team of writers and get more regular and varied articles happening on this blog – and more voices other than mine to add. But, I digress! The reason I’m here now is to share this with you:
I wrote recently about a project I did with iPods, mobile phones and Year 8. It wasn’t an entirely successful venture, but not a complete failure either. My main aim was to engage Year 8 more with their Chinese language learning, and I don’t think that happened. They liked using the iPods and phones, but that didn’t get them to create any more or any better quality work. This has really made me think about what I’m doing and why.
It is becoming a bit of a cliche, but I’ll say it anyway – the technology is only a tool. We really need to be thinking much more deeply about the quality of the content we are working on with the kids. The content is paramount to motivation and no matter how fun the technology is, the kids will still get bored if they arenâ€™t interested in the content. Introducing technology will not magically engage kids â€“ well, it might for the first couple of classes, but the novelty will wear off and they will see through it all!
I have found that students still want lots of teacher direction, but they are still very quick to criticise when something is boring. Sometimes that is a bit confusing as to what they really want, and I have had the impression from a couple of my classes this year that no matter what is put in front of them, or what they get to choose, they still arenâ€™t going to be interested. Admittedly, the two classes I have in mind have not only been difficult for me, but other teachers as well. Our Year 7 class has turned their noses up at many things â€“ complaining about having to do Voicethreads and big deal about a video conference with Manila. A few of them even asked their English if they should be learning how to read and write more!
I think the big thing for me to realise is that it is not only the staff who often need to be â€˜convincedâ€™ that this technology is great and can have huge impact on our students, but the kids need to be shown explicitly what the benefits are for them too.
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