The Advance of Education Technology
With education technology advancing at what sometimes seems to be an alarming rate, it’s application to the English language learning classroom seems almost imminent. What is even more intriguing is our learners’ ready acceptance of and adaptation to the incorporation of new technologies into their everyday lives. In many cultures worldwide, most youth above the age of 15 or so have their own personal cell phone or ipod, palm C’s or multi-use mini-memory stick combo of electronics. Indeed, it seems that it’s the “old fuddy-duds” who don’t have cell phones and pocket-sized electronics as part of their lives. So what’s a savvy Educational Administrator to do? Find ways to incorporate and take advantage of these new technologies in the English language learning classroom, that’s what.
Ah, but the expense, the confusion, the hassle and did I mention the expense – of doing so. What about that? Growth hurts. If we are to maintain the field of language education in the forefront to which it belongs in this day and age of global communications, international business and global economies involving multiple countries, we must address the changing face of global commerce and communications, technology and its increasing impact on education.
A “Smart” Classroom
But just what is a “smart” classroom? Opinions as to what education technology elements exist in such an entity, of course vary, but some key aspects are generally agreed upon. Let’s examine some of them and their respective purposes.
o A smart whiteboard
o Laser / digital pointer
o Computers with multi-media software
o internet access
o CD / DVD player / recorder
o Video beam
o VHS player / recorder
o Multi-band AM / FM radio receiver
o Wide screen TV with cable station feeds
o Interface device(s) for digital feeds from Teacher to Learners
o Portable PCs, Palm Pilots or ipod devices for each language learner
o Direct server access and storage capability
Okay, so by now you should be getting the picture. While many or even all of these devices can significantly impact the English language teaching and learning process, it is ultimately the teacher who must negotiate their application to the needs of the learners to complete curriculum requirements. More education technology doesn’t necessarily make for a better English language teacher or even better English language teaching, but it very well could if strategically applied.
English Language Teachers Must Be Better Equipped
Initially, many of our English language learners would be better equipped to manage these new, developing technologies than a number of their language teachers. Foremost then, is to equip English language teachers with the essential knowledge and skills to cope with an infusion of high technology. Many language learners too would need to be brought up to speed on application of new technologies to English language learning. Although by no means do these new education technologies affect only English language teaching and learning classrooms. As conditions (and budgets) permit, educational administrators can and should upgrade classrooms and language teacher knowledge on the application of new education technologies.
While virtually no classrooms will likely ever contain all of the aforementioned equipment, we, as English language teaching professionals, can still learn, grow – and dream.