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1. The Incorporation of ICTs into Task- Based Language Learning Distinguished Fulbright Awards in Teaching 2010 DATA ANALYSIS and INTERPRETATION I do not advocate the use…
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  • 1. The Incorporation of ICTs into Task- Based Language Learning Distinguished Fulbright Awards in Teaching 2010 DATA ANALYSIS and INTERPRETATION I do not advocate the use of technologies as a mere replacement of more recognizable classroom tools, such as the blackboard and chalk or the whiteboard and maker. We should envision a radical change in our teaching practices not only because technologies usage is being involved, but because we, as teachers, have to begin rethinking our syllabus design in terms of where and when these technologies can have a positive intervention. Reading through answers from interviews with teachers, they attribute some benefits to these new incorporations of LCD projector, MIMIO machine, smart
  • 2. boards. All of these have made the teacher´s job easier and more comfortablein different aspects. However, when talking about how these incorporationshave beneficial for their students, they mainly mention the “fun” factor orentertaining nature of the activities proposed. Showing videos or askingstudents to come to the front and work with the smart board, have becomestandpoints of this new educational perspectives. Recreation as an added value of technology environments should not beundermined. It is clear when observing the photos folder that supports thispaper that students show a relaxed body posture, amiable gestures to teachers,who are monitoring them from ”behind” with an attentive and encouragingattitude, answering to demands just when required, but allowing students tofollow their own pace of work. Nonetheless, teachers do not fully recognize the benefits of “the othertechnology”: the creative, collaborative, productive tool with which they couldempower their students allowing them to meet 21st century educational goalsand ambitions. Without a pedagogy wrapped around them, reading WebPages representsquite a static activity; it is only by a careful examination of new web2.0 tools thatstudents can take advantage of the interactivity they propose. Interactivity isalso a concept that needs some clarification, as teachers may think thatbecause the computer answers with an applause to right click or an “oops” towrong one, there is some degree of interactivity. Study Island and Kidspiration are two of the platforms that offer the kind ofinteractivity described above. Students surf around quite a number ofinteractivities that give immediate answer through sounds or graphical displayswhenever the students click the mouse.
  • 3. Both a methodology TA (teacher´s assistant) and a graduate ESOL student,mention in their interviews social networks and other web 2.0 as powerfulinteractive tools where students and teachers can find a milliard of resources toincorporate in their practices, as well as different kinds of CMC tools (e.g.,skype, blog, wiki, etc.) which they have incorporated into the instruction. Thus, awider meaning can be applied to this concept after web 2.0 resources invadedthe education field. Now it should also cover the instances in which studentsactively participate in some collaborative written or speaking tasks with usersconnected synchronically or asynchronically in virtual contexts. Only one of the interviewees mentions task-based learning as amethodological approach which can give a suitable frame inside whichlanguage teachers can embed their technological incorporations. However, inboth field notes presented in this paper, the reader can see that teachers gettheir students involved in creative tasks that involve the use of technology. Suchare the cases of the blogs being followed by students at Montgomery Blair HighSchool and the environmental project with which the 5th grade teacher isworking at Clarksville Elementary School discussing the issue of water in theirarea, involving the kids in a wiki context in which they publish the findings oftheir research. We need a few words of caution though; technology only offers a set ofpowerful tools that are methologically neutral, which mediate our experiences incertain ways. These experiences that we create for our students to interact withthese resources are what add value to the tool. These experiences should alsooffer the 21st century curriculum certain benefits that should fit in thetraditional one.
  • 4. Julian Chen, a TESOL TA, mentions “I was a bit overwhelmed by all theWeb 2.0 tools. In order to align my teaching styles with students’ digital learningstyles, I tried to explore different kinds of CMC tools (e.g., skype, blog, wiki,etc.) and incorporated them into the instruction. In 2008, I first encounteredSecond Life (SL), a 3-D virtual environment. I was impressed with thepedagogical potential SL can offer for language learners and started to embarkon my SL journey.” Tools, once more, are neutral until we transform them. Another good point that can be made after reading the interviews and fieldnotes, is that each individual need to become acquainted with the potentialadvantages that using technology can bring to their classrooms. Otherwise,when teachers feel the technological issues are being imposed to them, fromexternal policies, they just reject them or participate only symbolically in theimplementation. Mr Read, a middle school technology teacher describes his position aboutthe states technology standards describing: “The seven TechnologyStandards provide a specific framework for teachers to effectively implementtechnology within the curriculum on many levels. “My feeling is that I and mostteachers need to review these Standards in order to be aware of the specificrecommendations. A better awareness of the Standards would facilitate a morecomprehensive implementation; however, many of these Standards aretypically employed without much thought, in my case. Formulation of aresearch question, use of multiple sources of information, variouscommunication channels and formats, and accessibility logistics are alwaysconsidered.” It is also misleading to talk about technology as a single homogeneous set.Teachers should look deeper into the analysis of its pros and cons andsurrender to the one they feel best fit hers/ his as well as their students needs.Blog has proved to be an excellent tool for some teachers to follow their
  • 5. students’ progress in writing, asking them for journal entries and commentsabout other student´s work. At the high school where I was doing myobservations I could even see students presenting their blogs to the rest of theirclassmates, justifying the viewpoint expressed in their posts, and having toanswer questions and discussions which arose from those comments. As regards Professional Training, current´s graduate preparation rarelyincludes the use of Educational Technologies as a required subject. It is to behoped that educational institutions start providing the necessary professionaltraining that will allow pre-service or novice teachers, who frequently considerthemselves as digital natives, to reflect upon the incorporation of these newtechnologies also in their school life just as they are already doing in theirpersonal lives. Equally important is the role teachers training should haveamong experienced teachers who are not digital natives, but immigrants, and assuch, may feel more reluctant to the incorporation of technologies to theirpersonal and professionals lives. If teachers are immersed in an action research team, where their newlessons can be observed, assessed and improved, we will definitely achieve animpact on practices that will render benefits for the institution, students andteachers, bringing their status of critical professionals to a peak. The language teachers and students have to move beyond a simplecomputer functional competence into a critical competence that merges theminto a new way of viewing this new accelerated world mediated by a continuousevolving technology. It is the role of language teachers to act as mediatorsbetween those who are in both extremes on the digital gap. We, as teachers,can make our local realities be broadcasted globally and can bring the globalworld to our local community making a contribution to bridging the existingdivision.
  • 6. At Samuel Ogle Middle School, the technology class run by Mr Read, does apretty good gob in merging Social Studies, Arts and Math curriculum into hisown technology syllabus, allowing the students to see technology as a means ofinstruction rather than as an end in itself. Although I have pointed out earlier that technology is theoretically andmethodologically neutral, teachers have to realize the power this tool has giventhem and education in general. Furthermore, they are not supposed to minimizethe political tool they have in their hands, when deciding which YouTube videoto show their class or whom to share their journals points of view with. No curricular innovation can prepare teachers for the swift andoverwhelming changes that take place in the world of technology. Technologicalstandards proposed by public policies are quite beyond the average teacherskills. I feel that without a long-term, well intentioned institutional support, bothfrom a technology service and an educational technology resource person,teachers will start feeling threatened as well as helpless. Technology is giving education such a unique opportunity that it cannot beleft in the hands of well intended, enthusiastic teachers who have just becomecomputer savvy, out of a personal hobby rather than a well informedmethodological conviction. The incorporation of technology in school needs athoughtful realistic course of action which requires the sensible approach inwhich all the pieces of each institutional puzzle come together in basicsustainable agreements.
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    Jul 23, 2017
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