Following on from her posts, Why use a Teacher’s book? Part 1 and Part 2, Julietta Schoenmann, a language teacher and teacher trainer with over twenty years’ experience, considers the impact and hidden potential of using multimedia in teaching.
We know it’s out there and we know we ought to be part of it… yes, I’m talking about the digital revolution! We have observed the way it’s impacted on our work over the last decade or so and some of us have been quick to embrace the changes wholeheartedly.
However, many of us have been eased into this brave new world quite gently through the inclusion of MultiROMs with our course books and the replacement of the good old OHP with a swish new projector in our classroom. But what about that scourge of modern teaching, the interactive whiteboard? Or augmented reality which promises to transform learning through our smartphone? Or the fact that most of our students are far more techno-savvy than we are anyway?
What can we do as practitioners to not only keep up with the latest developments, but feel confident about implementing them in our classrooms? Let’s look at a few examples and consider ways in which we can make them part of our normal teaching toolkit.
Using an interactive whiteboard (IWB)
In my experience a lot of teachers are plain terrified of this piece of equipment, hence the reason why many of them have been installed in classrooms by progressive managers only to find them unused and gathering dust a few months later. Just think of it as a big computer monitor – it does all the things your PC does but BIGGER! In order to get the hang of it, it’s important to have some practice sessions without students sniggering at your bungled attempts to drag pictures across the screen or change the pen colour from red to black.
The ideal scenario is to have a half day training course on the IWB’s functionality but this might cost your school a bit of money. The next best thing is to get together with your colleagues and pool what you know about how it works then try out a few techniques and practise until you feel confident about unleashing your new skills on your unsuspecting students. Failing this, you can play around with the board on your own and get proficient at some of the basics like calibrating the board, using the stylus, rubbing out words and phrases, highlighting, saving a page, and opening a new one.
You can also watch this video introduction to interactive whiteboards.
Digital teaching tools
Lots of course books nowadays come with digital add-ons and New English File is no exception. The New English File iPack and iTools provide you with a comprehensive range of resources that include interactive tasks for grammar, vocabulary and revision besides new ways of presenting the video and audio materials from the course book. What’s more you have a toolbar (similar to the kind used by an IWB) that allows you to zoom in and out, draw, highlight, erase and make notes. You can organise the grammar quizzes as team games, which students love – nothing like a bit of competition to get them excited!
There are other neat features as well – like the fact that you can play a video clip and display the script for your students. You might choose to do this the first time you show the sequence, or the very last time your students watch after completing a task. But there’s no doubt that having all your resources in one place makes life a lot easier for you in terms of managing your class.
It’s amazing how many students don’t actually think of using the MultiROMs or CD-ROMs that come with their course book unless you literally point it out to them. Even when you do, you suspect that it’s only the keen ones who will use it for study outside the classroom. But never mind, it’s there for everyone and can be a great resource if used regularly for consolidation and revision purposes. The New English File Student’s Book has helpful ‘Study Link’ references which suggest which of the many activities on the MutiROM are suitable for following up particular lessons. Basically, there’s no excuse for your students not to be immersed in English from morning till night with all these lovely digital gadgets to play with!
What are some of your favourite multimedia gadgets to use in the classroom or at home?