Teaching and Training with New Technologies – Part 1

I have always been fascinated by technology. And when I met Ana Maria Menezes[1], my mentor  in this area, I realised that I would never teach or train teachers the same way. So my beliefs about teaching and training have changed completely.

Having been a member of the LT SIG[2] in the IATEFL [3]  and have recently joined the LT SIG subcommittee , I decided to reflect a little on how technology has impacted the way we teach and learn, taking into consideration what I have observed in the Brazilian education communities.

This post is the first part of a reflection rather than an intention to present any brand new idea in the LT area.

The recognition of an increasingly technological society must be accompanied by the awareness of the need to include the skills and competences to deal with the new technologies in school curricula.

In the context of a knowledge society, education nowadays requires a different approach in which the technological component cannot be ignored at all.   The new technologies and the exponential increase of  information lead to a new organization of work, in which it is necessary: ​​

  • The indispensable specialization of the knowledge;
  • Transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary collaboration;
  • The easy access to information and the consideration of knowledge as a precious value, useful in any aspects life.

Having said that, I would claim that every day a new paradigm emerges in education and the role of the teacher, facing new technologies, has changed tremendously and will be a lot different though.

New technologies have helped spread ,  improve and facilitated the engagement in some areas  among the education communities such as:

  • The use of CLIL (Content Language integrated Learning) to teach English in context and not language for the sake of it .
  • The four pillars of education[4] as the basis for teaching and learning in order to develop a spirit of collaboration and autonomy in students.
  • The good and effective use of mobile devices.
  • The flipping classroom.

The teacher, in this context of change, needs to know how to guide the learners on where to collect information, how to treat it and how to use it. This educator is now the leader of self-promotion and the student’s learning counsellor, either stimulating individual work or supporting the work of groups gathered by any area of ​​interest.

The quality of education, which is generally centred on curricular and didactic innovations, cannot be left out of the available resources to carry out reforms and innovations in education, nor the forms of management that make it possible to implement them.

The incorporation of the new technologies as common basic contents is an element that can contribute to a greater connection between the contexts of teaching and the cultures that develop outside the school scope. Facing this situation, educational institutions have the challenge not only of incorporating new technologies as teaching contents, but also of recognizing and starting from the conceptions students have about these technologies to elaborate, develop and evaluate pedagogical practices that promote the development of a reflexive disposition on the knowledge and the technological uses.

The current society undergoes profound changes characterized by a deep appreciation of information. In the so-called information society, knowledge acquisition processes assume a prominent role and require a critical, creative professional who must be able to think, to learn, to work in groups and to know oneself as an individual.

It is up to educational institutions to  form and train this professional and for this, this is not only based on the instruction that the teacher gives the student, but on the construction of knowledge by the student and on the development of new skills, such as: ability to innovate, create the new from the adaptability to the new, creativity, autonomy and communication.  On the other hand, l personally believe that it is up to us educators to be in charge of their own PD[5]. Perhaps a matter of priority, I would say. As for the school, it is said that it is the school’s job today to prepare students to think, to solve problems, and respond quickly to the ongoing change. Is it? Food for though.

New Information Technologies open new possibilities to education, requiring a new attitude of the educator. With the use of networks in education, information can be obtained from sources such as research centres, universities and libraries  , for instance, allowing work in partnership with different schools and institutions of all sorts.

Connection with students and teachers at any time and place, favour the development of projects which exchange information between schools, states and countries, through letters (and several other forms of written discourse), short stories and live talks , not to mention the variety of web tools and apps that help students build their knowledge, lead them to autonomy and allow the teacher to work better  on the development of  any  kind  of knowledge.

Technology allows learning to occur frequently in  the virtual space, which needs to be inserted into the pedagogical practices. The school is a privileged space of social interaction, but it must interconnect and integrate itself with the other existing spaces of knowledge and incorporate the technological resources and the communication through networks, allowing to make the bridges between knowledge and becoming a new element of cooperation and transformation.

The way information is produced, stored and disseminated has changed dramatically.  The huge volume of research sources are open to students via the Internet, digital libraries, e-books, games and several other sources instead of printed publications and distance learning, video conferencing or the Internet.

Teacher training for this new reality has been critical and has not been effectively privileged by public education policies, private education or by universities. The profile of the teaching professional is oriented towards a certain “specialization”, even though, the time required for this appropriation does not allow it. As a result, the fragility of actions and training, reflected also by economic and political interests, is evident. (Costa and Xexéo, 1997).

The goal of introducing new technologies in school is to do new and pedagogically important things that cannot be accomplished in other ways. With the use of appropriate methodologies:

  • These technologies can be used in the integration of other materials.
  • The school then becomes a more interesting place that will prepare the student for his future.
  • Learning focuses on individual differences and student empowerment to make it an independent user of information, able to use various types of information sources and electronic means of communication.
  • The introduction of new communication technologies and the process of changing the performance of the teacher, who is the main actor of these changes, enable the student to correctly search information in different types of sources.

It is also necessary to make the whole school society, especially students, aware of the importance of technology for social and cultural development. The leap in quality using new technologies could be in the form of curriculum work and through teacher action, as well as encouraging the use of new teaching technologies, stimulating interdisciplinary research adapted to the Brazilian reality.

The most advanced technologies can be used to create, experiment and evaluate educational products, whose goal is to advance a new paradigm in education, appropriate to the information society to reshape human values, deepen thinking skills and make work between teacher and students more participatory and motivating.

The integration of work with the new technologies in the curriculum, as tools, requires a systematic reflection on their objectives, their techniques, the contents chosen, the great skills and their prerequisites, and the very meaning of Education.

With new technologies, new ways of learning, new skills are required, new ways of performing pedagogical work are necessary and fundamentally, it is necessary to continuously train the new teacher to act in this new environment, where technology also serves as mediator of the process teaching-learning.

The new kowledge society demands a new profile of educator, who should be:

  • Committed – with the social and political transformations; With the political-pedagogical project assumed with and by the school;
  • Competent – showing a solid general culture that allows an interdisciplinary and contextualized practice, dominating new educational technologies. A reflexive, critical professional, competent within his own discipline, capable of teaching and conducting research activities;
  • Critical – to reveal, through his posture, his convictions, his values, his epistemology and his utopia, the result of a permanent formation; He is an intellectual who develops a critical teaching activity, committed to the idea of ​​the potential of the students’ role in the transformation and improvement of the society in which they are inserted;
  • Open to changes – to the new, to dialogue, to cooperative action; He contributes so that the knowledge of the classes is relevant for the theoretical and practical life of the students;
  • Demanding – He promotes demanding education  performing relevant interventions, destabilizing, and challenging students to unleash their rebalancing action; He helps students to advance autonomously in their study processes, and to critically interpret the knowledge and society of their time;
  • Interactive – He contributes to the intellectual and moral autonomy of its students, exchanging knowledge with professionals from the area and with the students, in the school environment, building and producing team knowledge, promoting integral education, quality, enabling the student to develop in all dimensions: cognitive, affective, social, moral, physical, aesthetic.

Final considerations for this first part:

Teacher training signals to an innovative curricular organization that, by going beyond the traditional form of curricular organization, establishes new relationships between theory and practice. It provides conditions for the emergence of collective and interdisciplinary work and enables the acquisition of a technical and political competence that allows the educator to be critically placed in the new technological space.

The role of the teacher is to be engaged in the process, conscious not only of the real capabilities of the technology, its potential and its limitations so that it can select the best use:

  • to be exploited in a given content;
  • contributing to the improvement of the teaching process;
  • learning through the renewal of the teacher’s pedagogical practices
  • and the transformation of the student into an active subject in the construction of his knowledge.

With all the above , students will be led through the appropriation of this new language to insert themselves in the contemporaneity.

 

[1] Ana Maria Menezes http://lifefeast.blogspot.com.br/

[2] LT SIG – Learning Technologies  Special Interest Group

[3] IATEFL – International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language

[4] Lerning to be , Learning to know, Learning to do , Learning to live together

[5] Professional Development

Roseli Serra

Roseli is an enthusiastic educator in Brazil. Graduated in English and Portuguese, she works as an ELT consultant, teacher trainer, materials writer, Cambridge examiner and e-moderator. She's a member of the IATEFL LT (Learning Technologies) subcommittee and works, teaches and trains professionals in the area of TD and LT. She’s also a psychologist, a mentor and a coach certified by SLAC (Sociedade Latino Americana de Coaching). She has a post-graduate degree in Applied Linguistics and is now doing her MA studies in Science of Languages at UNICAP (Universidade Católica de Pernambuco). She truly believes in life-long learning and teacher development.

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