There’s a time and a place… – #AusELT chat with Scott Thornbury on edtech, part 3

'distraction' by underminingme,

‘distraction’ by underminingme,

“Though the educational potential of the internet is limitless, it’s becoming apparent that students use technology less to learn than to distract themselves from learning…” – Hal Crowther,  2010

(could the words ‘students’, ‘learn’ and ‘learning’ in that quote be replaced with ‘teachers’, ‘teach’ and ‘teaching’?)

Midway through our February #AusELT chat, @thornburyscott raised the question as to whether technology is a distraction in the classroom and paraphrased the Hal Crowther quote above. He also triggered off this lively exchange with @sturubenstein:

Some (@elkysmith, @christinemulla, @sujava, @trylingual) felt that engaged students probably wouldn’t be, for example, checking social media in class. @forstersensei suggested that device checking is ‘just something that we do’ these days; @eslkazzyb agreed with this and commented that it did not reflect on the students’ engagement level. @forstersensei thought that device use in class could instead simply be a coping mechanism.

@thornburyscott also asked whether anyone had actually monitored students’ use of mobile devices in class. Intriguingly, @tamzenarmer mentioned that, according to survey of EAP students, 1/30 has sent an SMS in class. @forstersensei said they mostly used it for social media and asked why we shouldn’t leverage this for learning purposes.

There was general agreement (including from @thornburyscott, @eslkazzyb, and @forstersensei) with @sophiakhan4’s statement that “tech is more empowering” for Ss outside the classroom. @thornburyscott mentioned that teachers can replicate most classroom uses of tech just as effectively, more cheaply and with “less likelihood of things going wrong!” He said that his “real beef with ed tech is the timewasting IN class” – ‘bad teaching is bad teaching. Bad teaching + tech is REALLY bad!’ – and that the “best use is for forming communities of language users”. Finally, he emphasised the ‘disembodied’, virtual nature of a lot of tech use and proposed KYDAH: ‘Keep your device at home, and come prepared to talk to other human beings.’

@thornburyscott did caution, paraphrasing Neil Selwyn, that there is no evidence to suggest that “the majority of individuals use social media apps in especially participatory, interactive or even social ways”. Nevertheless, the final word in this part of the summary should perhaps go to @tesolacademic who stated that edtech use outside class is the ‘main question’ and:

(this part of the summary by @elkysmith)


1 thought on “There’s a time and a place… – #AusELT chat with Scott Thornbury on edtech, part 3

  1. Pingback: Update on the #AusELT chat with Scott Thornbury (6 Feb 2014) | #AusELT

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