I have read articles on the challenges facing teachers regarding the future use of technology in the classroom from the MOE. “Future focused learning and teaching”
Our students live in the 21st Century and they need to develop new ICT skills for classrooms that will be less teacher focussed
The challenge facing us is how best to implement and or structure our courses in order to maximise the benefits technology offers.
Sometimes students spend their time on making their projects look cool, and they do not really consider how they can use their language skills.
Where's the beef?" is a U.S catchphrase that originated as a slogan for Wendy's. Since then it has become an all-purpose phrase questioning the substance of an idea or in our case a presentation or project. …so how are they demonstrating their language skills.
And in fact, this is exactly the criticism that can be made of what our students are producing if we as teachers do not put some forethought into our tasks.
In language classes our thinking on using Technology should be to support and improve our students’ languages skills.
SAMR is a learning model teachers can use to effectively integrate technology in education. This model may help us to better navigate across technology enabled learning landscape.
There are 4 different aspects or levels to this Model.
The first level is called Substitution and it involves using technology but in a straightforward way.
The use of technology here makes the subject more engaging because its tech. based but in reality the students’ language skills have not been developed to any great degree.
The next level is titled Augmentation and as the name implies, we are using technology to help add enhancements to the set task.
In this example, we started with the original written task (present a collage) but have added an additional step that involves speaking (Avatar speaks)
Moving on, the next two levels involve a transformative process.
To begin with, we have Modification.
Tasks could be designed to encourage more collaboration and interactivity promoting higher level language skills such as conversing involving listening and speaking skills in the target language.
This example uses the same photo they used to do the first written task (Collage) but now we have many students adding their audio input (in the target language) with some interactivity (students discussing) which in a foreign language learning context is highly valuable.
Weaker students will be stretched with such a task but the stronger students get the opportunity to extend themselves.
Finally, at the top level we have Redefinition…we are able to set a task that previously was not do-able but technology makes it possible.
For example, tasks such as making movies in the target language involving collaboration and inter-activity on a bigger scale
So this model prompts us to think about why we want our students to use technology…is it simply to enhance our lessons OR can we in fact use technology to Transform our lessons?
We need to make sure that our priority is to use Tech tools to help develop the language skills of our students and not just about showing off their ICT skills.
This model can act as a sensible guide for teachers on how they might consider designing a task that involves the use of technology.
Our journey as teachers has taken us along a path from the Differentiated Approach (Teacher driven) to the Individualised Approach (also Teacher driven) and now finally to the Personalised Approach (Student driven)
In Summary, Technology is a useful tool in the language classroom. When using technology, we need to make sure that we provide flexibility in our tasks that enable and encourage our students to more fully develop their language skills. Students with a weaker knowledge will be able to meet the task requirements but stronger students will get the opportunity and support to extend themselves and push forward with developing their language skills.
It is not about technology for technology’s sake, it is more about reviewing your resources/tasks and thinking about changes you could make to encourage and inspire your students to more fully engage. The SAMR model may help you reflect on how best to modify your current tasks or create new ones.
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