Tablets, smartphones and other technological gadgetry definitely have a place in the modern-day classroom (please remember that I’m speaking from an English Language teacher’s point of view!). If you want to engage today’s young people (how old do I sound?), these gadgets need to play a part in your classroom.
I once had to teach a complete semester with just an iPad. No paper, pencils, pens or text books, etc were allowed! Nothing, except the iPad, for both teacher and students. It can be done. Both myself and my colleagues did it. But, I believed then and I still believe that this is no way to teach the English language, or any other language. It is not pedagogically sound.
Why do we learn a language? Primarily, it’s to communicate with other people. So, I like my students to communicate both with each other and with me. The iPad promotes insularism. Yes, I know you can communicate through social media and email, etc, and that is one area where the iPad can be useful in the classroom…for practising, certain types of, writing. It can also be used to encourage discussion in a variety of ways. However, the classroom provides the opportunity for students to communicate face to face and to develop their spoken language, which is especially important if they are in a country where English is not an official language and they will have little, if any, opportunity to practise outside the classroom.
It is extremely limiting, and creativity is stifled if teachers and students are not permitted to be eclectic in the classroom.
Teachers teach in different ways. Students learn in different ways. And we can all get bored without sufficient stimulation. What happens when you get bored and tired? You switch off. You stop learning. Your brain goes to sleep! Diversity is key! Providing a variety of tasks, activities and learning opportunities, using a variety of resources and methodologies keeps teachers and students on their toes!
You probably think that I hate the iPad! I don’t. I love my iPad! I wouldn’t be without it now. I also believe that it has a place in the classroom, and can provide variety and stimulation for specific tasks, but it must be used in a controlled and carefully planned manner.
Of course, during that and subsequent semesters, I learned a great deal about using the iPad in the classroom. The different applications can be used in so many different ways. Set things up correctly and you can keep tabs on what your students are (or aren’t!) doing. You can set up cloud storage to easily share documents and videos, etc with your students, and they with you. But more of that later…
What are your thoughts on iPads in the classroom?
©Natalie Murray, 2014. Copying strictly prohibited. Extracts and links may be used only with full and clear credit given to Natalie Murray/English in Andalucía with appropriate links to the source material.