Laura Austin, an ELT Consultant for OUP, presents 5 easy ways to learn, connect, communicate and develop in ELT using technology.
Technology per se doesn’t affect the language development of students learning English. However, I think you’ll agree that these are useful tools to explore to help support both you and your students.
Infographics* (for students)
There are infographics about history, culture, business – you name it, they exist. The Coolinfographics website is a great place to start. Why not use it to start off a debate? To generate interest in a topic area? Or to pre-teach vocabulary? Even for introducing those analytical skills needed for core exams. This one from the Onlineeducation.net is particularly interesting as it relates to student views on technology; might be a useful one to kick start the use of infographics in class.
*Thanks to Ollie Bray for this idea.
Twitter (for you)
Twitter helps you to reach out to other ELT professionals all over the world. Once upon a time you’d browse through various websites to find out about new methodologies and teaching ideas. Now, all you need is a Twitter account to follow all your favourite ELT authors; put them into a list and away you go. If you haven’t quite got it; then just spend 10 minutes a day following Tweets. You’ll get there in a couple of weeks and once you do you’ll never look back.
The most popular feature for ELT teachers is #eltchat – you can follow this hashtag twice a week for updates and topical ELT debates. Great to read and even better if you can participate. You can find more information on the website
Wikis (for students)
Wikis are a way to collaborate everything you have learnt with your class, incorporate new skills (such as peer editing) and encouraging students to communicate. Most importantly it gets students excited about publishing their work online.
Each class one student could take notes and post it on the class wiki. This could be used for revision and for absent students to catch up on. For a more collaborative effort, students can do this in small groups and save it on different pages, this effectively creates a Website – so the Wiki then contains a range of pages for students to browse. There is a range of software which helps you put together your class Wiki. One of the most popular being PBworks. It is simple and straightforward to use.
Movie Makers (for you)
I love the browsing through all the home made animated movies on youtube. There are a wide range of movie makers which make this so easy for you to make for your class. How does it work? All you do is import your text and choose your characters, select a background and away you go … a movie especially made for your class.
You could use it to pre-teach vocabulary or as an end of term treat you could even create a movie based around students in the class. Try Xtranormal for starters.
Have you used any of these in your classes or in your own time? Are there others you would recommend? Share your stories in the comments below.
6 September 2011 at
From a practical viewpoint I think some of the options are too complex for the average class. I signed up for the Xtranormal site and began to make a movie. A few quick issues came up within the first five minutes:
* It is slow and there’s a steep learning curve here to generate a film.
* The intonation the characters have is appalling! Being computer generated it made many, many mistakes.
* It kept asking me for money!
Ok, so practice and time will make things easier, but I can see a class of students getting frustrated with this quite quickly.
Instead I’d suggest moving it into real life. That is, getting the students to prepare and make a film except using real people (i.e. each other) and real stories; these days films can be shot on smartphones and there are some very simple editing packages around.
Also, I think I’d personally rather watch a film featuring my fellow classmates than one featuring a limited collection of animated characters speaking in strange ways!
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