Readers of this blog may know that in most of my classes I only have a projector so I use my laptop for whatever is needed. However, as some people have rightly commented, you may also say “hey, don’t you do Dogme though?” and you would be right. So, how do these 2 apparently contradictory extremes co-exist within the framework of an EFL/English learning classroom environment???
Very good question actually…
As all things in my world seem to be natural so is this relationship. Nature and organic definitely apply to my view of teaching. What I mean is that lesson grow, I may prepare the pot and add some water or sun but it grows and develops into whatever shape it wants. Actually, the more you try to restrict and control, the more problems you have. Any readers of Taoism may see the similarity or fans of Bruce Lee or even Kung Fu Panda. Ah, the classics!!
And so….my view of tech has gone from gimmicky “wow look at what we can do with this new site” to basic tools integrated into the class. Thus, you don’t notice them but they’re used to their full effect to enhance the class and help it progress.
An example which was recommended by the Edutech and Dogme sage himself, Chiew Pang is GDocs. Set up one page, make it public and you’re away. A free e-board.
Basic you may say but very effective in the right hands, Chiew’s to be precise. Chiew told me that he opens a GDoc for students to write on like a blackboard and then has a written record of what was done. Thus, I started the same after each online grammar practice exercise I asked students to write something using the grammar point on the doc. They’re usually slow to start and just add silly things but after 2/3 goes it just became normal and you can see them writing and correct the process or the end result. At the end, I can also post the samples to a blog or ask them to correct or complete it for HW. I can also turn it into a PDF and mail it out. Chiew is a genius!! Just a word of warning though, 1 of my IT hackers managed to hack and freeze my Doc. As punishment he had to rewrite the whole thing for HW.
My other basic tools include The Free Dictionary which I use for higher learners for definitions, synonyms and antonyms, also the Oxford collocation dictionary for CAE/CPE students. Oh, and for lower levels conjugation.com and the Cambridge Int dictionary. All of these have a novelty factor but when students see that they aren’t just for fun but serious cognitive tools they became just an alternative to a coursebook or paper dictionary. Also, they start out being demo’d by me but then students start using them and after a lesson or 2 they automatically refer to them and I don’t use them except for checking.
Now, at this point the 2 or 3 sites we use are just modern versions of a paper dictionary and thesaurus and actually enhance student’s work. Tech-enhanced learning and not just gimmicks!!