A Little & Often: Integrating Technology on Teacher Development Courses
A few months ago (April-June 2011*) I wrote a report on a survey on the use of technology amongst CELTA tutors. The results were rather disheartening and the prevailing attitudes among many of my respondents ranged from the completely negative (“It is not our job/place to introduce technology on CELTA courses; there are more important basic areas; they can learn this later”) to the cries for help (“I don’t feel I know anything about it; I don’t know where to begin“).
Although for reasons of copyright ownership, the original article is only available if you purchase it, you can read the abstract if you click here – you might also like to hear the podcast of an interview I gave to Nik Peachey on the same topic from IATEFL Brighton online in 2011.
My own position is that we do need to include it as an important part of our curriculum and that we should make it a normal part of everyday teaching, i.e., normalize the use of education technology tools.
How successful have we been so far?
Today, technology was on the timetable of my currently running CELTA courses.
And even though it appeared on the timetable ‘officially’ for the first time, I am very happy to be able to embed an animation created by one of my trainees for her Teaching Practice which followed that particular ‘input session’. Here it is:
GoAnimate.com: is there a movie tonight.
(Thank you Danae for letting me use your work:-) )
Web 2.0 & Integration into Teacher Development Courses
This was a question (how to integrate Web 2.0 training into our courses) which I had to deal with along with many others like myself who have found themselves in a similar position.
At first, I started by including one or two input sessions – usually during the second half of the course or later. It seemed – by dint of amount of time allocated to it and place on the syllabus – that this was not one of our core subjects.
The results of these short input sessions were very mixed. There were a few, but very few, trainees who seemed to respond to the call for the use of more technology, but many of them remained either unconvinced or relegated the use of Web 2.0 tools to a time after the course, when they would “have more time to think about it”.
It seemed that this particular treatment was not having the desired effect.
Some of the articles and blog posts I read up seemed to be rather dismissive of what I had been doing – which got me thinking whether my approach was not somewhat misguided. The question they posed was:
Can you help teachers integrate technology in one or two sessions on a course and hope they will readily adopt it?
This was the question I was dealing with and after a few enthusiastic attempts to preach technology, I decided that the best way was to stop preaching and, instead, practise rather than preach, and practise without making too much fuss about it, but treat Web 2.0 tools very much like other tools, visual aids, materials I was using on my courses.
At the start of today’s session, I asked my trainees to think back and remember how many different Web2.0 tools they have already been using so far. Here are two word clouds, one from today’s sessions and one from a previous course:
From the brainstorming of our CELTA course, in July 2011 – a slightly different combination of tools but still quite a few for the first half of their 4-week course.
As the trainees themselves realized, they had been using most of the tools I was talking about – the tools were recognised and discussed in a sensible way, in terms of their best uses or when and where it would be a good idea to include them. They did not seem like a novelty, nor did we dismiss other non technical tools and methods in favour of tech tools.
Here is how our trainees were introduced to some of the tools:
Before they even started their course
- They used a wiki to access their preparation materials and self-access tasks
- They saw a couple of Vokis made by their course tutor on the welcome page and another one in their “Common Room” where they were free to play and upload or edit and insert links
- They used a Lino_it (an alternative to Wallwisher) in order to meet and greet each other before the course
- They watched You Tube Videos and screencasts on how to use their wiki
- They downloaded files from the wiki
- They subscribed to my Diigo and Delicious bookmarks
During their Course – for assignment work and lesson prep
- They used Audacity to record a learner each for their first assignment “Focus on the Learner” (on Day 2)
- They learnt to convert Audacity files to wav files so they could hear them on pc or laptop
- They used our PC’s or their laptops to email audio files to themselves or learnt to upload them onto their wiki – in some cases the same learner was used as the subject of the assignment by two trainees
- Their Teaching Practice points were uploaded to their wiki.
- They scanned and uploaded pages or images from coursebooks and saved audio files
- They looked for images on Google, Flickr and royalty free sites, including Microsoft ClipArt
- They found and downloaded or favourited song video clips and other topical clips to use in different parts of their lessons
- They used powerpoint to show their images, realizing what a waste of paper and ink printing photos involved
- They downloaded and used lesson planning templates in order to write their lesson plans
- They experimented with powerpoint for more dynamic grammar presentations and revelations of bits of language through the various animation tools available in this programme
- They researched language points for their language analysis
- They used online phonemic typewriters to insert phonemic script in plans, aims, language analysis sheets
- They used the chat function in their wiki or Skyped each other to collaborate
- They used Google.docs to create and share class profiles so that they could have information available to them when they changed over classes
- One of them (on our latest course) stage managed a live Skype chat with a friend of hers in the UK to illustrate some language points/functions she was presenting-I am sure more skyped dialogues will be appearing again soon
- They often took pictures of the Teaching Practice Feedback comments which we encourage them to write on the board for each other using their iPhones or phone cameras; they uploaded the photos to their wiki – sometimes we used Lino it for delayed feedback
A Little & Often – Without too much Fuss
This is what I have come to realize – that a little and often seems to work best – the examples are what they see from us and just like a trainee will try to imitate a technique as simple as rubbing out the words of a dialogue gradually to help the students memorize it, so will they try to do the same if they see us use a tool in one of their sessions or a demonstration lesson which made the lesson more motivating and effective.
To the one voice of resistance – “What if there is a power failure? How will you teach your lesson then?”, it was delightful to hear the trainees thmeselves reply “well, we can always use the board or have a plan B just in case….”
I don’t think I have reinvented the wheel here but it just goes to show that to train teachers (or anyone) in best practices in their field, you do have to model these best practices quite consistently in your own teaching and training.
By modelling the use of Web 2.0 tools without very much ado about them but including them as a normal part of everyday teaching, it looks as if we may be looking at a much better way of introducing educational technology to teachers in training by making it a part of the normal everyday tool kit for teaching.
It has worked so well so far, that I think I actually am going to do away with the input session(s) on their timetable – they are probably not needed.
How have you integrated technology in your training courses?
I would really love to hear about your experiences and successes and failures. Sometimes you learn more by looking at those too 🙂
Related Research Article
*Integrating Technology on Initial Training Courses: A Survey Amongst CELTA Tutors International Journal of Computer-Assisted Language Learning and Teaching (IJCALLT), April-June 2011, Vol. 1, No.2