Breaking down the walls of the classroom
Thursday 20 January 2011
by Nik Peachey
In this posting I would like to argue that in order for technology to really enhance learning and for learners to achieve their full potential, we need to fundamentally rethink the relationship between learning and the classroom and to rethink the role of the teacher.
As things stand at the moment the most common scenario is that students have a scheduled class which they go to, the teacher comes along, the lesson ends and they get some homework, some might even have access to some online self access materials in and attempt to implement some form of blended learning.
Personally I feel like this isn’t really good enough anymore and it isn’t realising the full potential of what technology can now enable us to deliver.
In the questionnaire that appeared in the very first posting in this series. One of the questions I asked was “ Is the paradigm of the classroom as the predominant means of education outdated?”
The response was that 64% of those who voted thought that it was outdated, so I’m assuming that many of you agree with me, but what do we replace it with?
Alvin Toffler in an article entitled ‘Reshaping Learning from the Ground Up’ argues that it’s not enough to reform education, but that we need to totally rethink the entire system from scratch. He argues that the existing model of education was designed for the post industrial revolution world. A world in which the main requirements of society were that we have a well trained work force that arrives on time and works obediently, but now in a world where jobs in large scale factories are largely disappearing , we need to develop a new educational model which will produce people capable of working in the digital age.
I think a really good example comes from one of the teaching suggestions made by Phil on my last posting. In his comments he describes an activity he did with students using technology to reach beyond the defined limits of the lesson time and the classroom and how it kept students engaged and interacting with each other after and between classes.
I think this is exactly the kind of thing that technology should be enabling and what we should be focusing on. There are many arguments against using technology in the ELT classroom, not least that the students need classroom time for their spoken face to face interaction and I can see some logic in this, but I do think we need to reconsider the way technology can extend this beyond the lesson and the classroom.
There are however problems that would come with this, not least that as a teacher you could then be expected to be available to all of your students 24 / 7. How could you cope with that?
Well you probably could cope with it, if it were factored in to your working ours and you got paid for that time. The fact is that at present most schools pay for ‘contact hours’ and any time you spend as a teacher adding value to your lessons and providing students with greater opportunities to enhance their language abilities is pretty much down to your own dedication.
The other problem of course is that if we use technology to extend learning beyond the limits of the classroom and the lesson time, we need to have trained teachers who are able to cope and keep up with the technology as it changes and course materials that are designed for this kind of approach.
- At present most standard ELT teaching qualifications only really deal with what teachers do in the classroom and very little credit or demand is put on how they extend learning beyond it.
- At best most course materials only offer self-study activities for students to do online after and between classes. They don’t offer environments or tools that can extend social interaction with peers, teachers or the real world of language speakers beyond the classroom, and yet technology can make all of these things possible.
So isn’t it time we started to rethink the role of the teacher and extend the bounds of the lesson beyond the time the students spend in the classroom?
What do you think?
- Do mainstream teacher training courses need to change the way they address and evaluate the role of the teacher?
- Is it reasonable to expect all teachers to be digitally literate?
- Should teachers be finacially compensated for the learning oppportunities they provide beyond the classroom lesson time?
Delta Development Blog
This blog will be updated at least once a week, so add it to your bookmarks. You can also subscribe to the feed to be notified when it's updated.
Meet the Bloggers
- Bob Dignen & Steve Flinders (February to April 2013)
- Hania Kryszewska & Paul Davis (April to June 2012)
- Louis Rogers (January to March 2012)
- Ken Paterson (December 2011 to February 2012)
- Richard Brown & Lewis Richards (September to November 2011)
- Liz Walter & Kate Woodford (September to October 2011)
- Kyle Mawer & Graham Stanley (April to August 2011)
- Nik Peachey (from November 2010)
- Nicky Hockly (September & October 2010)
- Julie Pratten (July & August 2010)
- Gill Johnson (April 2010)
- Chaz Pugliese (March 2010)
- Luke Meddings (August 2009)
- Lindsay Clandfield (July 2009)
- Duncan Foord (June 2009)
- Scott Thornbury (May 2009)
The Business English Teacher
From the multi-award-winning DELTA TEACHER DEVELOPMENT SERIES. The Business English Teacher is a book not only for teachers who are thinking of making a career move into the field of business English teaching but also for those who would like to increase their skills and develop their potential.
Teaching Online is essential reading for any teacher interested in online teaching and course delivery. It deals comprehensively with both the tools and the techniques necessary for online language instruction.
The Developing Teacher
The Developing Teacher has been awarded the 2009 Duke of Edinburgh/ESU Award for Best Entry for Teachers. The Developing Teacher suggests that teachers themselves are the most powerful agents of change and development in their own professional career.
Teaching Unplugged was awarded the British Council 2010 ELTons UK Award for Innovation. Teaching Unplugged is the first book to deal comprehensively with the approach in English Language Teaching known as Dogme ELT.
The Book of Pronunciation
Part of the multi-award-winning Delta Teacher Development Series. The Book of Pronunciation is a definitive account of the key role pronunciation plays in teaching and learning, providing a highly authoritative but hugely accessible overview of the essential elements of English pronunciation as well as a wide range of classroom practice.
Culture in our Classrooms
Part of the Delta Teacher Development Series. Culture in our Classrooms acknowledges the role of culture in the English Language Teaching classroom and provides lesson content which is relevant, useful and engaging for students.
DIGITAL PLAY - 2012 ELTONS WINNER IN INNOVATION IN TEACHER RESOURCES! Digital Play is a pioneering book on the use of computer games in language teaching. Authors Kyle and Graham are experts in teaching with technology and training teachers in innovative classroom practice.
Part of the Delta Teacher Development Series. Being Creative takes you on a journey that reveals how all teachers have the potential to become creative. Whether you are experienced or new to the classroom, Being Creative allows your teaching to take flight.
The Company Words Keep
Part of the multi-award-winning Delta Teacher Development Series. The Company Words Keep is a practical and thought-provoking guide for language teachers, showing how the latest insights into “language chunks” can lead to learners acquiring natural and fluent English.
Ton Koenraad on mLearing and ELT: Are We Mobile Ready?:
Hi Nik, Have the results of the 2013...
January 5, 2016 1:15 pm
Helen Beesley on Speaking Games:
Thanks for your interest in this title William! We...
October 12, 2015 12:59 pm
William on Speaking Games:
Can I purchase this as a digital download (ebook)? If not, where...
October 8, 2015 2:41 pm
Helen Beesley on Teaching children how to learn :
Thanks for your enthusiasm for this new...
August 11, 2015 11:07 am
Helen Beesley on Heads Up :
Thanks for the positive feedback Judy! Where are you based?...
August 11, 2015 10:52 am
1 Apr 15
13 Mar 15
13 Feb 15
30 Jan 15
16 Jan 15
11 Dec 14
27 Nov 14
25 Nov 14
13 Nov 14
30 Oct 14
30 Oct 14
15 Oct 14
6 Oct 14
1 Oct 14
6 Aug 14