Master Teaching

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Lingua Tech

technologyby Nicholas Todd

The R-rated cult classic Office Space has some moments related to technology that many can connect with. Taking a baseball bat to a printer/copier/fax machine doesn’t exactly fix the problem, but it does have a cathartic effect when technology doesn’t work like we expect it to.

In Asia, the number of times technology hasn’t worked as I hoped is too numerous to count, but the blessing of technology allows teachers to guide our students to consistently deeper questions.

For example, in the ESOL classroom using multiple sources to give input to the students touches more than one learning style:

  • I use my voice to stage the question.
  • I look for students who have already engaged it with their minds.
  • I then put the question on the projector for discussion as a group.

Those that weren’t sure of what I SAID can now READ it from the screen. It brings everybody to the same place in the classroom. Even if the lower level students aren’t prepared to produce, whether recall or creation of something, it unites us and keeps us on track.

I believe that using technology to present the questions that draw us to a moral dimension gets us there faster than if I spent the time to make posters or write it on the board.

One common critique is that using technology in the classroom leaves teachers feeling isolated behind the computer. Engaging with the class is our goal, right?

Enter tech two. A simple tool I have used for a couple years is a presentation mouse. It functions as a laser pointer as well. This wireless laser pointer/mouse has let me click through slides from anywhere in the room for my Oral English classes, my Drama for English Acquisition course, and for Listening and Speaking for Business curriculum.

Another way to engage students. Students can be given opportunity for input in the way a class is run, especially when it is tech related. They often have more awareness of what they are using and what peers are talking about. For one of my courses, I needed to distribute 45 minutes of mp3s for the listening packet I handed out each week. The first class, I, with a smile on my face, spent 10 minutes transferring those mp3s to each person’s thumb drive. That was a way I did NOT want to spend my time (class time or even post class time). I asked four students to stay after class, and we decided on using a Chinese social media app to distribute the files. It worked better than I could have expected—it only involved me working with one student, gave students the freedom to download the audio at their own convenience (responsibility anyone?), and I was able to engage the students in THEIR world.

I have wanted to take a bat to a printer or confirm the rate of gravity from the sixth floor with the fax machine, but I am also considering the effect of tech used well to make deeper, more educated, thought-provoking connections with my audience. I do not believe we need to use the latest technology, we just need to use the technology we have well. Everything has a learning curve. Find your tech insider, locate the person who uses it best, and watch them use it.

Further exploration

What’s your perspective?

  • What tech do you use in the classroom?

Post Author

Lingua TechNicholas Todd served with his family in Northwest China for nine years before relocating to Lancaster County, PA. He grew up in a log cabin, no longer grows hair on the top of his head, has been an insulin junkie for more than two decades, and reads cookbooks like novels. Nicholas tweets and instagrams at @nickbobtodd.


Photo Credit: shoutabyss via Compfight cc

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This entry was posted on March 18, 2015 by in communicating with students, Nicholas Todd, technology.

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