Best practice in technology-mediated EFL instruction

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Tessie's presentation at School of Langauge Studies, November 12, 2009.

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  • Good Morning everybody. I’m Tessie. Bfore I start my presentation I would like to thank you SOLS for giving me the opportunity to share my ideas to the staff and students. Most importantly, I would like to thank Prof White and Dr Walker who are my thesis supervisors and recently we have Dr Skyrme in the team. It’s pretty amazing for me standing here today because almost three years ago that I started my PhD journey- I got nothing in my mind about doing a research in ICT in language teaching. Here I am today from scratch to something like this at the last phrase of my study. What I want to share today is under this topic “ Best Practice in using ICT in language teaching: a perspective from the Thai Tertiary EFL context”
  • I quite like this photo on our mini conference poster – It implies a lot of things – don’t you think? Anyway I would like to ass a line under this photo – Hey my work hasn’t finished –please do not expect too much from me- I’m warning you – It’s not to late to leave the room – I’m just joking
  • Well – Let me give u an outline of my presentation – I would start talking about my research overview and the general aims of the study Then I will introduce you to some of research frameworks and methology that are significant in my study and data collection After that I pick up a part of my research findings from scenario-based interview and discuss it in terms of how Thai teachers think about using ICT in their English instruction. Finally are the conclusion and implications
  • Yes first and foremost – my study look forward to understand the nature of Thai tertiary EFL teachers’ cognition (beliefs, understanding, perceptions) about ICT uses in EFL instruction – The people I dealt with were EFL teachers in 7 public universities in Thailand and I wanted to know and understand their thinking about technology-mediated uses in EFL teaching in their contexts. There is term that I want to give the definition before I move further – I’m gonna use ICT or technology for short which will cover all kinds of technology around the computer whether they are online or offline applications.
  • This study is conducted under the notion of teacher cognition- Therefore I have been reviewing a lot of previous studies about teacher beliefs, attitudes, knowledge, and perspectives. I found a number of issues mentioned by several researchers. They kind of give warning about the study of teacher cognition that it might be difficult to investigate what teachers have in their mind… What are they really thinking about their own work- It’s a kind of secret – Everybody has a skeleton in the closet that they don’t want to talk about it. Or their beliefs are so deep down inside even the teachers themselves do not realise that they hold that kind of beliefs. People not just teachers are likely talk about ideal situation or principles when they are asked to express their opinions. What they do in real life may not always the same as what they really want to do So previous studies say it’s not easy to investigate teacher personal principles – they are telling me that you need some tactics in the enquiry. Asking them direct question like – What do you think about WebCT in language teaching? Or Do you think the Internet help your students in learning English? May not reveal what really in their mind. Therefore it has been suggested thata combination of data and instruments is needed here.
  • In addition to claims from teacher cognition studies- I look at what researchers have said about “Best Practice in using technology in teaching”. No surprise- they cliam that the best way to use technology is to use it according to the characteristics of constructivist teaching. Technology should be used in the way that it serves students’ needs and interests, learner-centreness, students’ collaboration, and self-directed learning as well as autonomous learning. Bla bla bla. Which I doubt it because it doesn’t say anything about what teacher think – how they accept the concepts of using technology in language instruciton. There’s nothing to do with the school contexts and curriculum condition. Whatsoever
  • Afterall, I come up with my methodology design – I try to find the best way to get the teacher talk about their thinking. I used mixed-methodology. Mixed methods combined many kinds of instruments and each instrument support each other in elicit questions and areas of inquiry during the process of data collection. I used a survey questionnaire to get the overall picture of how tertiary teachers think abt ICT. Then to get into more detail and in depth information, I used semi-structure interview with a group of teachers asking them their beliefs in some typical use of technology in classroom scenarios. In addition, unstructured interviews were used to discover key teachers’ perspectives on technology uses in a particular context. Throughout the investigation process, I keep my research journal and observed the technology uses of teachers to gain a better understanding and make connection between their thinking and their actual teaching behaviours. The finding that I pick up is from the middle part – scenario based interviews that I conducted with EFL teachers in 7 different universities.
  • In scenario-based interviews, I created nine classroom scenarios containing different uses of technology in language teaching range from one end of teaching style continuum (very structured teching) to another end (constructivist teaching). I show these scenarios to teacers and ask them to comment on the instruction and activities.
  • These bubbles represent nine scenarios containing typical web-based activities and asked 7 teachers to criticize the use of technology in each scenario. I asked them to give comments on these types of technology-assisted teaching as if these scenarios happened in the next-door classrooms of their co-teachers. This strategy was used to encourage teachers to feel comfortable to talk about technology in classroom without criticizing their own practice or their ability to use the technology.
  • This is an example of web-based classroom scenario on the teacher-cnetred side of the continuum. Participants were asked to criticize about this kind of technology use especially the teacher role. As you can see this kind of technology use is very teacher-centred. Everything was set by the teacher and students just do what there were told. But they use the available facilities which are effortless to operate. Suppose you wer my participant- what do you think about this kind of activity- it makes to think and project your perspectives on the others’ teaching.
  • Let’s see how some participant reflect their thinking towards this technology use. They think that this is suitable for their students and fit their teaching practice. It’s easy to use and provide more channels of communication between teachers and students. It’s close to real-life teaching. However, if something can be done here, it’s a good idea to use the activity in a way that it promotes more students’ participation in making their own choices in language learning.
  • This is the second example of web-based classroom scenariowhich is somewhere in between the teaching continuum. Participants were asked to criticize about this kind of technology use especially the teacher role. As you can see this kind of technology use is very teacher-centred. Everything was set by the teacher and students just do what there were told. But they use the available facilities which are effortless to operate. Suppose you wer my participant- what do you think about this kind of activity- it makes to think and project your perspectives on the others’ teaching.
  • Let’s see how some participant reflect their thinking towards this technology use. They think that this is suitable for their students and fit their teaching practice. It’s easy to use and provide more channels of communication between teachers and students. It’s close to real-life teaching. However, if somethings can be done here, it’s a good idea to use the activity in a way that it promotes more students’ participation in making their own choices in language learning.
  • This is an example of web-based classroom scenario that is created to represent the contructivist end of teaching continuum. Participants were asked to criticize about this kind of technology use especially the teacher role. As you can see this kind of technology use is very learner-centred – They can choose what they want to study and mange their own inforamtion search and interaction. It promotes interaction, communication, and reflection in language learning based on authentic expereinces. Sound awesome
  • Although this scenario represent a highly learner-centred approach of using technology. Participants expressed concerns about students’ English ability in contributing in a web forum. Students may need more background knowledge about what they were going to discuss. Maybe teachers need to take more action in choosing the topic. In addition they thought that this kind of instruction may not be suitable for beginner students but may be possible with a more advanced group of students. Students may not have access to networked computer to do the task. The issue of digital divide emerged here from a particitpant’s view.
  • Therefore, as you can see from participants’ views of technology uses in language instruction, teachers think about different aspects when technology is incorporated in their EFL contexts. They expressed concerns about these key areas.First of all – they think about their students’ characteristics, background, and limitation. They think about what should be learned and taught in their classroom – not just addressing students’ needs and interestes. They are likely to prefer the use of technology to maintain their existing classroom instruciton. They also percieve the possibilities to use technology that fit with the allocated time and realities. From the interview findings, I think that the use of technology that best fit into Thai EFL context is somewhere right here at the junction.
  • From the participants’ point of view, the best way to use technology for Thai EFL teachers are based on these ideas - T echnology should be used to support what they have already done in face-to-face teaching that serves classroom needs. - The choices of technology depend on teachers’ personal principles, nature of students , course objectives, facilities, and classroom environment at a particular institutional context.
  • What implications I want to offer here are - The study into teachers’ use of techology should address sociocultural issues of EFL contexts - Using technology comes along with the understanding of students’ needs and limitations - Don’t worry if you do not have a cutting-edge technology, just make the most out of the avaiable technology - The most important tool in teaching is the teacher themselves – nothing can teach a human being better than another human being.
  • Here comes the conclusion - Technology-mediated language teaching in Thai EFL contexts may not conform to best practice in the literature (i.e. constructivist)- but rather a combination of the advantages of many kinds of technology and practices that fit into particular contexts. This is what also found in other studies (Higgins & Moseley; Sugar et al., 2004; Ertmer et al., 2001). Thank you for you time
  • It is not overstatement to say that the Internet has transformed English language teaching. Firstly, teachers and learners have access to the WWW which is a huge resource of authentic materials. The interactivity of web tools makes learning more exciting for students. Learning with technology and multimedia always attractive to learners. It also offers more channels of communication for teachers and students through chat and email.
  • Best practice in technology-mediated EFL instruction

    1. 1. Best Practice in technology-mediated language teaching: a perspective from the Thai Tertiary EFL context T. Suwannasom
    2. 2. (Don’t expect too much from me!)
    3. 3. Presentation Outline <ul><li>Introduction: overview of the study </li></ul><ul><li>Frameworks and research methodology </li></ul><ul><li>Findings from scenario-based interviews </li></ul><ul><li>Discussion </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusion and implications </li></ul>
    4. 4. Overview of the study <ul><li>To understand the nature of Thai tertiary EFL teachers’ cognition (beliefs, understanding, perceptions) about technology use in EFL instruction </li></ul><ul><li>Thai EFL teachers in 7 public universities </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Technology’ refers to all kinds of technology& applications around the computer (language software, desktop programs, CMC, the WWW, LMS, etc.) </li></ul>
    5. 5. Teacher cognition in previous studies: Issues <ul><li>Teachers may not reveal their underlying beliefs but their ideal principles and practices in teaching (Woods, 1996) </li></ul><ul><li>(For some people) it’s difficult to talk about beliefs as they may not be aware of it…. </li></ul><ul><li>Beliefs are inherent in nature, tacitly held, not easily defined or investigated …(Johnson, 1994; Murphy, 2000 ) </li></ul><ul><li>What teachers do in classroom are not always in line with what they believe (Lee, 2008). </li></ul><ul><li>A self-report inventory may not allow participants to express their perspectives in their own words (Fang, 1996) </li></ul><ul><li>Researchers need to combine data from different instruments to elicit beliefs (Borg,2003; Kagan, 1992; Barcelos, 2003) </li></ul>
    6. 6. Best Practice, Constructivism? <ul><li>Technology best practice incorporates the following descriptions of constructivist teaching (Becker and Riel, 1999; 2004): </li></ul><ul><li>- respond to students’ interests rather than externally mandated curriculum </li></ul><ul><li>- engage in collaborative group projects in context rather than sequentially tasks </li></ul><ul><li>- focusing on students’ understanding of complex ideas rather than on definitions and facts </li></ul><ul><li>- teaching students to self-consciously assess their own understanding and learning </li></ul>
    7. 7. Methodology A survey questionnaire: 47 university EFL lecturers Semi-structured interviews (scenario-based): 7 lecturers Observation and Research Journal Unstructured interviews and observations: 3 lecturers
    8. 8. Scenarios of using technology in EFL teaching <ul><li>Technology-using teachers range from a continuum of instructional styles from instruction to construction (Adapted from Grabe and Grabe 1996 and Dexter, et. al 1999) </li></ul>Instruction: - independent learning - individual learning - practices, products - facts, information, - knowledge retention Construction: - collaborative learning - social learning - exploration, process - communication - thinking skills S1 S2 S3 S4 S5 S6 S7 S8 S9
    9. 9. Using scenarios in semi-structured interviews : Network-based language teaching approaches ( Kern and Warschauer, 2000) Exchanging emails with NNS keypals Use search engines and do online research for group projects Create a web page or web blog for language learning Chat with NS/NSS keypals Discuss local/global issues on web forums Use online dictionary or references Exchange electronic essays and feedback How well would these classroom scenarios fit into Thai tertiary EFL instruction ? LMS tools for activities assignments Do language exercises and quizzes
    10. 10. How well would this classroom scenario fit into Thai EFL contexts ? -teacher centredness -students’ limited participation -communication between the teacher and students “ Pipat usually downloaded materials from websites and online writing labs to use in the classroom. Students’ written drafts had to be word-processed and e-mailed to him. He recommended EFL writing websites and exercise to students for them to study after class. Students were welcome to send him e-mails asking questions about assignments and their study.”
    11. 11. Participants’ Responses <ul><li>“ Using online materials is convenient -it saves a lot of time and money. Students are quite happy to use word processors for their essay writing. Actually, my students are doing something like this. It’s easy for both the teacher and students to read, write, and rewrite on computers. E-mails can promote communications between students and the teacher. I like to hear from students...” </li></ul><ul><li>- “Students didn’t have much freedom to choose materials here. Why don’t we let them choose what they want to learn? There should be more options for students to explore online information. I believe students at this level need to practice autonomous learning strategies.. They should have the opportunity to explore online information and take part in designing their language learning.” </li></ul>
    12. 12. How well would this classroom scenario fit into Thai EFL contexts ? -group collaboration -teacher as mentor -students’ research skills -communication among students “ Students in Chanchai ’s writing class were assigned to work in groups to write essays for the class website. They did a lot of online research going through websites and read several online texts. Students exchanged ideas and feedback on the essay among groups. drafts. At the end of the course, each student had to write an individual essay and post it on the class’s webpage.”
    13. 13. Participants’ Responses <ul><li>“ I think the online searching skill is very useful for university students. This instruction allows students to practice reading and writing extensively. One of the major problems for Thai students is lacking of ideas and information to write. Many of them do not read newspapers or watch the news. Going through websites before writing exposes them to rich information. They would gain some ideas and language input to develop their own writing.” </li></ul><ul><li>- “Students just take the material and information from websites. Many of them cannot incorporate the materials into their own writing. Copying texts from websites is too easy to resist. The processes of using online information in writing should be monitored. Students need supervisions in using online material for their own work.” </li></ul>
    14. 14. How well would this classroom scenario fit into Thai EFL contexts ? “ There was no course book for Jintana ’s writing class. Every two weeks, students voted for the most interesting local or global issues. Then they went to the computer lab, searched for information, and discussed in an online public forum with classmates and global users. Each student had to send her an email reporting about what they read and contributed to the web forum.” <ul><li>Student-centeredness </li></ul><ul><li>Real-life discussion </li></ul><ul><li>Real-life topics </li></ul><ul><li>Students’ interaction, collaboration& participation </li></ul>
    15. 15. Participants’ Responses <ul><li>“ If students are beginners, it’s very difficult for them to write argumentative posts on the web forum. Beginner students need a lot of explicit instructions and models for writing. It’s necessary that teachers teach them how to write paragraphs before writing on the forum. This may be possible in case students have already developed paragraph writing skills or they are advanced-level. This is a good activity focusing on learners’ interests and participation.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ This can be a one-off activity for students to practice writing about what they like on the web. However, getting everybody online at the same time is a problem. We don’t have enough networked computers for students and many of them don’t have Internet access at home.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Student not likely to follow local and global issues. They may not come up with a good topic for discussion and writing. Students need some background knowledge to make their points on the forum. Writing should start from a topic that they can write from their own idea and experiences, so they won’t end up in plagiarism.” </li></ul>
    16. 16. Participants’ perspectives about technology-mediated EFL instruction in Thai contexts Teachers’ existing classroom instruction Student computer literacy and access Students’ backgrounds & Limitations Available Facilities and Supports Course objectives and Curriculum Classroom environment &time
    17. 17. <ul><li>Teachers perceive the relevant usefulness of a particular technology according to their existing teaching approaches- They see technology as an add-on to their face-to-face teaching that serves classroom needs. </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers’ choices of technology are determined by personal teaching principles, nature of students , course objectives, facilities, and classroom environment at a particular institutional context. </li></ul>Perspectives about technology best practice in Thai EFL contexts
    18. 18. Implications <ul><li>Addressing sociocultural issues of EFL contexts </li></ul><ul><li>Knowing students’ needs and limitations </li></ul><ul><li>Fitting into teachers’ existing practice and curriculum </li></ul><ul><li>Making the most out of limited facilities </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers’ refelction of their practices and learning about how technology can enhance their instruction. </li></ul>
    19. 19. Conclusion <ul><li>Technology-mediated language teaching in Thai EFL contexts may not conform to best practice in the literature (i.e. constructivist)- but rather a combination of the advantages of many kinds of technology and practices that fit into particular contexts. This is what also found in other studies (Higgins & Moseley; Sugar et al., 2004; Ertmer et al., 2001). </li></ul>
    20. 25. Technology tools in language instruction

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