Top 5 Pieces of Advice on Using Technology to Teach

Using Technology – it’s not that hard!
I’ve just finished my usual technology workshop “pell mell”. Many hours meeting  hundreds of teachers at their orientation to teaching in public schools here in Korea.

I love it but it is exhausting. Yet it energizes me too.  During the workshops, as usual, I go with “the group” and get off topic and take sidebars / untrodden paths. That’s my style. But I always hit (for the most part) the core ideas and examples. (and send them to my tech wiki ELT and TECH)

I always urge teachers to “muck about” and that it really isn’t as hard as we think. Yes, it takes time but it pays off big time. It is more about the paradigm shift that needs to occur in each of us – as the above video highlights so well.

Jason Renshaw (@englishraven) made a request for advice for a forthcoming tech workshop and it prompted me to share the top 5 pieces of advice I hit on during my workshops to practicing teachers.

#1  Use technology only if it meets the lesson’s language objective and enhances learning.

This may seem self evident but too often I think, teachers do bring in technology just for the buzz and thrill. They don’t ask hard enough questions like, “is it the best way to help students acquire “x” language point?” “how long will it take?” “What’s the cost/benefit compared to something else? ”  Engagement is great but it really isn’t the point of education. Stay focused on the language objectives and make sure any technology you use – really, truly helps that objective be reached.

#2  Download what you will use in class.

Even here in Korea, streaming can’t be counted on. Also, the internet though usually a stable platform, just can’t be counted on. Download swf files by right clicking and “save as”. Save videos by using or audio by using . At a minimum, play a video all the way through before the lesson, that way it will be in your computer’s cache and stream better.

web-20#3  Don’t get lost in the forest. Find what works for you and stick with it!

Every day, hundreds of  new applications, tools come online. I once tried to keep up and try everything. Nothing worse for a teacher! Just find a few tools or sites that you find suitable and match your own teaching style and also your student’s needs. Master them as much as you can and then use. Use a lot, your students will get used to them and benefit through that.  Don’t get lost in the forest of logos!

#4  Give students control. Get them using technology and make it interactive.

Technology works because it isn’t static like a page of a book. It is dynamic and a teacher should treat it so. Students should be encouraged to use the classroom computer responsibly. Trust me, they can click and advance things just as well as you! If possible, use your school’s library computers or computer lab. Get students using sites as homework or making games (like Fling the Teacher) which you can use for review in class.

#5  Make friends with the “tech” guy at school or a competent colleague.

Your best friend at school should be the person in charge of the computers (of course the librarian is also important!). Buy them a gift and get them working on your computer and making it purr. No technology guru around? Make friends with colleagues who have good technology skills and share something you do well in return. Teachers helping teachers.

So get out there and start preparing for Web 3.o – the future is already here and it is in the form of our students!


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Teacher trainer, technology specialist, educational thinker...creator of EFL Classroom 2.0, a social networking site for thousands of EFL / ESL teachers and students around the world.

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