Invisible Technology

I have already exploded the first myth in this post, and now I will try to explode myth nº 2: Dogme ELT = no technology?, as an answer to the Dogme Challenge Nº 7.

Again, as in my previous post I will continue writing from where my fellow bloggers have left. In this case, I really recommend you to read Mike’s and  David’s post. David concludes that:

“It’s not the tool, it’s how you use it.”

Technology at its best (specifically the internet) offers the chance to break down the classroom walls and bring the real world into our schools. At its worst, it leads to another pile of meaningless language practice activities. As teachers, it’s our job to ensure technology is used at its best to support the needs of our learners.
I totally agree with his statement. Technology allows us to open the classroom and let the real world in. It is a great source of authentic material: newspapers, videos, movies, cartoons, supermarket catalogues, you name it, the sky is the limit. You can find absolutely everything. Is there a better way of catering for students likes and needs?
However,  I believe that we have to use technology as a solution to a problem, and not just because we want to start using it in our classroom without a clear purpose. As Tyson answered me in this comment:

So many teachers I’ve seen use technology in class meaninglessly (ie. to kill time, impress students, feel obliged, etc). Really, the biggest factor contributing to this use is a lack of direction. It takes thought in order to determine how to best integrate the technology into lessons. Without this thought, its use comes off perhaps impressive at first go, but progressively as a weak attempt at being cool.Twitter (and many other sites) not created specifically for language learning offer functions that can facilitate our lessons with a little creative thinking.

That’s the key I believe: Creative Thinking. Using the tools we have at hand in a creative way to do things better than if we do them without technology. I think that Tyson’s use of Twitter is a perfect example of this. Relating to my own experience, last year I had a teen course that had lots of problems with writing. They were not really that interested in it. They would never hand in a composition, and I knew that writing is an important and necessary skill to develop. For that reason, I created a blog for them, in which they were going to be writing with the focus on communication and not on accuracy. Writing became meaningful for them, they had a real audience and most of them were motivated to take part and WRITE!
To sum up, as Ana Rossaro pointed in her blog technology should become invisible (The following picture is part of a power point presentation created and done by Ana Rossaro, I have just translated it into English. You can see the original version here) :

Posted on November 25, 2010, in Reflections on Tefl/tesl, web 20 and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Michelle Howell-Martin

    Your post has really got me thinking about the way I use technology in my own classroom. Even though many of the teachers at my school are amazed at what I have done so far, what I am reading from your blog and others is leading me to think about how to make technology more meaningful. I am also beginning to blog about my experiences, and have quoted you from this post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and providing some guidance for those of us who are beginning our work with technology.

    • Hi Michelle,
      I’m glad of being of use. This is a long path and we should always be reflecting on our practices. I’m sure you are doing a great job and I would love to have a look at it and learn from it too. What is your blog’s name?

  2. Nothing new to me. You just explained the reasons why I nominated your Saint Exupery 6 to the Best Class Edublog 2009 – The Edublog Awards

  3. Hi Sabrina,

    Thanks for a great post and for the mention/quote. 🙂

    I’m in full agreement with you – technology needs to become integrated into the classroom to the point where it is invisible (‘normalisation’ as Stephen Bax called it). At the end of the day, technology is a way to get a message across, not a message in itself.


    • Thank you for having inspired me. Yeah, normalisation is a good word. Technology should become just normal, another way of doing something and not just a flashy unconnected activity!

  4. Thank you for the further appreciation of my Twitter post, Sabrina. I plan on doing many more like it.

    Your main points here–that technology opens up a wide array of authentic materials and that how it is used is subject to creative thinking–are important points for instructors to consider carefully.

    Additionally, I know another many (maybe the groups of teachers I’ve mentioned aren’t totally mutually exclusive) who simply refuse to embrace any sort of technology for their classrooms. It is often attributed by being of the Dogme school of thought, but often it’s just because they’re technophobes. This latter reason is one I try to gently (maybe sometimes not) push them out of.

    Bottom line: it’s just such a waste when it’s not utilised how it can be.

    • Hi Tyson,
      Wow! I’m really looking forward to more twitter posts! I have never used twitter in my classes yet. Though I’m open to learn.
      You are totally right about technophobes. We should gently try to let them discover that great things can be achieved with technology. However, I believe that we should let them discover that on their own. If we push them, they may feel “attacked”, “forced” or “criticised” and they may end up resisiting technology even more. Do you agree?
      I don’t believe that teachers who resist technology are part of the dogme school of thought, it was precisely the myth I was trying to explode in this post. You can perfectly do dogme teaching using technology, they are not mutually exclusive.
      Thanks for passing and for all the food for thought…

      • Right. I don’t mean to suggest that they actually are part of the Dogme idea, but that they think they are. In reality, they’re technophobes.

        I agree that these teachers can’t be forced to do what they are afraid of. The gentle push comes from leading by example, demonstrating the benefits of its use and noticing the affirmative results in the classroom. I have to admit that I’m always pleased when I’ve had an effect on my colleagues’ decisions to ask me for help.

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