Technology and English Language Learning

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iPad in the classroom

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While on the hunt for academic papers experimenting with technology in the classroom I found a thought-provoking paper from Alma Culen and Andrea Gasparini (2010), from The University of Oslo.

It discusses two pilot studies looking into the acceptance of iPads in the classroom for active reading in a teaching/learning situation. It formed part of a larger study which investigated how tablet PCs may transform the learning and working practices of learners. One study focused on elementary school children, the other on university students, and the results were very interesting when comparisons concerning the acceptance of technology were made.

The pilot study at the university pointed towards non-acceptance from the students of iPads as a learning platform, with them citing ownership and ease of use as major problem. In contrast to this the elementary schoolchildren were very accepting, with children, teachers and families all agreeing that the tablets were enhancing teaching, learning and play. This was especially true in terms of creativity in the classroom and promoting positive attitudes towards learning.

For me this has provided a captivating insight into how acceptance of technology is starting to divide the Western world. It also highlights how current adult (both students and teachers) who shy away from embracing technology may lack the necessary skills to compete with these new digital natives when they come of age.

As teachers we have a duty to prepare students for life in the real world and as digital literacy becomes an ever more important skill-set, we should be striving to implement practical technology usage into the learning environment. If we don’t, we might find that in ten, fifteen or twenty years time we find both ourselves and our students  struggling to stay afloat in an increasingly digital world.

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