Technology in the Classroom: A Teacher’s Friend!

One of the strands of this year’s conference reflects a growing trend in teaching: use of technology in the classroom. We asked two of our workshop presenters, Leng Xuenian and Gloria Shen, some questions about how they use technology in the classroom, here’s what they said…

(LX= Leng Xuenian; GS= Gloria Shen)

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1) What technology are you most excited about using at the moment?

LX: I’m excited how the current picture of language teaching changed when almost every child has a mobile device (BYOD). Class-Dojo serves as a master control while I am using other apps or sites in student-centred and topic-based lesson, which I will talk about in my workshop.

GS: At our school every student and teacher has their own iPad in SK3 and SK4; and all the SK6 students use their own laptop in class. There is an Apple TV in every classroom which allow students to share their work directly from their iPad. “To involve technology in our daily teaching” has become one of our teachers’ personal developmental goals. Recently, I just started to use “Seesaw”. This app allows you to share students’ work with others- even their parents- [and everyone] can give feedback, written or verbal. It looks like Facebook, but is protected by the class manager. I will share how we use this app in my workshop.

2) Why do you use it in the classroom?

LX: Students are freed to learn independently and cooperatively with technology, the teacher becomes a facilitator. We save time and answer questions that they cannot work out themselves. The condition is, I need to get all of them onboard with full concentration on tasks. It’s about developing new habits, something that they can actually see that whatever they are doing is monitored- student’s achievement/sanction is a click away. It’s also motivating. Most students are competitive and will try to impress you. For the less motived students, the Dojo sites have animated ‘pep-talk’ stories for you. Parents can also be updated if they’d like to be involved.

GS: To be honest, I am not a big fan of using technology, but my students are! Our students are not only skilled in using technology, but keen to use it as well. As a teacher we have to plan our lessons to fit into students’ needs, don’t we?

I still think copying vocabulary and handwriting is important, and I still ask my students to make notes by hand. However, for those students who are not good at writing characters, I think using their iPad to type or write characters is a good way for them to do projects. Technology also provides the platform for students to share their work with each other, and they can work from home independently or collaborate with their team members. Some of the online games also create the collaboration environment for students to work together, and students learn from games. Through playing, my students’ language ability has improved.

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3) What differences have you seen in your teaching and student’s learning?

XL: Both the students’ learning and behaviours are challenged, motivated, and monitored. One example is that I do ‘我学了’ as starter at every lesson for KS3. Students get dojo points to 1) being the first to write 2) giving an extended answer using advanced language skills and 3) other language points they pick up implicitly. I teach them the concept that ‘uniqueness make you excel’ and I design reward stickers to encourage them to learn.

GS: Using technology has saved me a lot of time. My IB students create their own Quizlet groups, each of them contribute to build vocabulary banks by topics. We use Google Drive, Google dots or Google slides to share notes and ideas in the classroom or at home in real time. All of my IB students are very sharing, and understand it’s the most efficient way to achieve their best. Using technology helps them saving time.

In SK3 and 4, students enjoy using iPads to do group work, play vocabulary games, have competitions etc. Technology can’t replace the teacher but can help to make the lesson lively and the homework more interesting.

4) Why would you encourage teachers to use it?

XL: I am surprised that older students respond positively to the technology as well as the younger students. Three things to think about if you want to use it in a secondary school:

  • A positive attitude towards embracing new technology
  • Explore the functions for liaising with parents
  • Set up the reward/sanction rules in an effective way

GS: I can see how technology makes the lessons different. In my workshop, I am going to share some very practical apps and websites with teachers. You don’t need to be an expert to use this technology, because most of your students are or will be the expert! You can also ask students to design the tasks for assessing other students- they love doing it! Believe me, try to start using technology. It makes your teaching life easier!

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Leng Xuenian and Gloria Shen will both be leading workshops at our 13th Annual Conference. To find out more about online classrooms, apps and their application in Chinese teaching, see our booking details here.