Tentative steps towards a digital classroom Week 3.2

Introduction

Being week three of my course in Digital Technologies for Language Teaching, I decided it was high time I actually started experimenting with the Web 2.0 tools we have been introduced to with my classes. I feel that only through first hand experience can I determine whether technology will lead us to a new pedagogy in SLA. Below I will lay out a very brief profile of the classes, the technology I used and it’s effectiveness or ineffectiveness for SLA, as I see it at this point.

Know your tools

The first class I’d like to consider consists of a a small group of teenagers at C1.1 level (CEFR). The aim of this part of the lesson was to raise awareness of twenty lexical items related to globalisation. Students were required to categorise the Lexis and add it to a mind-map. I decided to use Padlet on the IWB and students’ mobile phones, instead of board markers and the whiteboard. My rationale was to set up a mind map that would be available to the students online and therefore outside class.

Unfortunately, I had not spent enough time getting to know the software and its affordances and I quickly realised that I was using the wrong tool for the job. I was drawn to Padlet because of its apparent ease of use, allowing me to invite contributions using a QR code or password. However, Padlet is not as versatile as Popplet for mind-mapping, it seems to act more as a notice board. Due to this error on my part, I cannot evaluate the effectiveness of Padlet for SLA. That said, I have learnt a valuable lesson, make sure you know your tools!

A difficult class

The second class were a group of younger teenagers, aged 11 to 13 at B1.1(CEFR) with considerable behaviour issues. The aim of this lesson was to review tenses studied the previous year and develop speaking skills. The final activate (ESA) activity was to record a celebrity interview on laptops. I decided to use students’ mobile phones and google to help students generate ideas for their invented celebrities. I also hoped that recording the students would develop spoken accuracy due to increased planning time, rehearsal and the ability to listen and re-record their performance.

Voice recording

Whereas in the past similar activities with this group bore fruit to only short lived interactions, recording students led to at least twenty minutes of oral production in the target language. This is definitely a use of technology I feel should be exploited more seeing as most of us now carry portable recording devices in our pockets.

Mobile phones

Some of the behavioural issues of this group were related to inappropriate mobile phone use, so I was concerned about using them. I therefore gave the students a time limit for their research by using the timer tool on ActivStudio and got them to work in pairs on one device. Despite my concerns, The students stayed on task and managed to collect a wide range of data to use as inspiration. My conclusion is that clearly defined use of mobile phones in class can enhance SLA by tapping into resources from the collective knowledge of the internet.

A community of learners

The last class I would like to focus on is an adult class at C2.1 level (CEFR). Recently with my classes I have taken on a more flipped approach to learning by asking students to research a topic or watch a video before a lesson. Students would then bring in articles, discuss them in class and share new ideas and lexis. However, students rarely read or watched each other’s findings due to limited class time. For this reason, I decided to set up an Edmodo class to encourage interaction and perhaps transform the group into a community of learners. The first assignment is to find a video on ‘change’, comment on it and comment on at least two comments of other students. I have only just done this so I cannot comment on its effectiveness but I am looking forward to seeing what happens.

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