Introducing EdTech to learners
Sounds good doesn’t it! Let’s introduce the learners to “X”! Job done! Well not really, because introducing it is the easy bit, getting learners to use and not abuse some of the tools is much harder. You can introduce learners to anything but you can’t make them do it.
Hardest of all is getting learners to use the tools outside the classroom. I’ve had a full range of experiences with a range of different age groups. With a group of primary school students aged 7 -11 everyone had a Quizlet log in and Quizlet was a regular part of our lessons. For exam preparation Quizlet was a good tool for target vocabulary but not as effective with grammar. I don’t have as much experience with Kahoot
Perhaps the holy grail is an EdTech tool which is as addictive and compelling as Minecraft or Candy Crush, but what is often ignored in this quest is that despite their popularity we don’t all play Minecraft or Candy Crush.
The importance of instructions and teacher talk
I recently had an enlightening experience, I was being observed and was more conscious than usual of making sure my instructions were clear. Looking around the room as the students started, more than half of them had ignored my repeated instruction to read and discuss each question. Many students seem to automatically go into “complete exercise in writing” mode rather than the “speak and discuss why something is wrong or right” approach I wanted them to take. I was trying to squeeze an extra bit of communicative activity out of the session, and maybe I should have made this more explicit.
To get the most out of EdTech tools your instructions need to be pre-planned, clear, tailored to your group, your learning goal and their level, and monitored. It’s not enough to say “Let’s play Kahoot” or “It’s Quizlet time”. There needs to be some checking of understanding and this is especially significant if you’re using Quizlet in the team mode as it is not immediately obvious how this mode is played. You should also reflect on the instructions and how effective they are and change if necessary.
You may remember from your CELTA/Trinity/DETLLS or other qualification the wonderful phrase “activating their schemata”. I think it is just as important to do this when introducing something new to the classroom. Draw on the learners’ relevant background knowledge, prior experiences and knowledge to help them make connections and take in the new.