Thursday, November 19, 2009

Using Technology – fad or future?

Almost everybody in the TEFL world of today is in some way or the other preoccupied with using technology in the classroom.

Almost every TEFL conference these days seems to give priority to speakers who wish to share their experiences about blogging, Twitter, SL or Web 2.0. It seems like these days, teachers are not looked up to or praised for what they can do without a computer but for what they can do using it.

Having attended quite a few seminars about technology and being a technophile myself, I must admit that the potential the Internet offers cannot and should not be neglected. By writing this post I also presume that there definitely are advantages of using technology in the classroom.

Yet there are a few issues that constantly keep bothering me.

Are there any disadvantages related to using technology in the EFL classroom?
Do teachers have any reservations about using it?
What are the roles of the teacher and the learner in the technology oriented classroom?

In order to get some feedback I started a few discussions on two Ning networks: EFL Classroom 2.0 and Classroom 2.0. I have also read Gavin Dudeney’s blog on and his ideas about attitudes to technology on

My main interest, however, was to learn what regular teachers think about that matter. The educators who took part in the discussions pointed out the following things:
  • many schools still do not have computer labs, computers in the classrooms, access to the Internet or even CD players
  • technology often and unexpectedly fails (personally, I have stopped counting the times it happened)
  • some teachers and students do not know how to use computers/internet at all or well enough to make use of it properly
  • it takes a lot of time to prepare a lesson with technology (searching and trying things out)
  • we need to take copyright into consideration
  • a lot of teachers are concerned with security on the web, especially publishing students’ emails
  • sometimes parents do not allow their children to use computers at home
  • some students, even in developed countries, do not have computers or access to internet at home; as a result they feel worse than their classmates
  • there seem to be lack of support from principals or school managers
  • in some countries certain websites and in other schools certain websites are banned (like Youtube in Turkey)
  • if students do work at home using the Internet instead of doing it in the classroom, we cannot guarantee its authenticity
  • teachers are concerned with losing control and protection that a traditional classroom setting provides
Personally, I dare to have further doubts and questions concerning using technology in the classroom.
  • Are we using technology for our students’ or our own sake (be honest!)?
  • Can it have a negative effect on our relationship with the students?
  • Are we taking students’ needs into account?
  • What does using technology in the classroom lead to? Is it worthwhile wondering about that?
  • Is the division between digital natives and digital immigrants actually valid?
Hoping to get answers from you :)


  1. 1. I generally feel I use technology for my students' sake. I use music and video because it's more interesting and the language is contextualized much better. I try to do projects including Interent media to hopefully encourage my students to connect more with a global audience and have meangingful interections in English.

    2. I'm sure there are some negative effects. Sometimes I get annoying students that message me constantly or students are scared about putting themselves online, so they are uncomfortable if we do a project like that.

    4. It can lead to a greater connection with a global community and teaches important skills for today's citizens.

    5. I think so. Even though I learned many of these skills, I put myself in the 2nd category because I'm comfortable and it feels natural using tech and web 2.0 tools. Not until I started teaching did I realize there was a whole contingent of society that views the Internet and technology as somehow separate from everyday life and as threatening or confusing. I've encountered this quite a bit lately trying to teach my teachers about aspects of the Internet or how to use tech in the class. It was another eye-opener.

  2. Brazil, country of huge contrasts where a huge skyscraper is erected next to slums. I live in Teresina which - according to people here - is the poorest part of Brazil and yet, I work at Cultura Inglesa, school where we have a great cyber café and smart boards in classrooms. I became a fan of them! Lesson with an e-board is a great adventure and makes life so easy! There's 'but' there, though. Lots of teachers get impatient with e-board programme and instead of designing a lesson in which students can actually interact actively with this tool, they get addicted to showing youtube videos or films. I'm putting a lot of effort to encourage teachers from my school to be creative. Slowly but surelu we'll get there.