Teacher education time!
David Coulson is from Brighton, the University of Sussex and Brighton. 20 years ago he did a BA in modern languages and recently finished an MA in media-assisted language teaching. (Hadn’t made the connection between this talk and having met him yesterday until he stood at the front! Shows how good I am with names…)
Teachers, if given confidence and left to work together, will be able to create. That is what we do. We are in an important time at the moment – a tipping point. David’s children use mobile phones and have a great aptitude for this, proficient but not in an educational way. But the devices have a great capacity for being used in an educational way. On the other hand, he lived on a farm with some horses, a goat, two dogs and two children, in Portugal, for 15 years. From that, he learnt to have a go at things, to try. This is what we have to do with technology. We have to not be afraid to have a go at using tools. Sometimes there is a culture of fear around using these tools. It’s a really crucial time for using tools at the moment. We have to have the knowledge to be able to react to any tool that comes out and be able to understand if we can use it or why we would want to use it, for education. The right reactions are essential.
Do you think EFL teacher education or education in general will be the same in 10 years time?
David feels this is particularly a time of change, more so than say 10 years ago.
We discussed and here are some audience ideas:
- change of mindset in using technology
- change of role in teacher education e.g. not “the technology input session” but integrated into the bigger picture (mine)
David tried to find out what the required knowledge and expertise required to be an effective teacher and where technology fits into this. He did interviews with experts in the field of education and and technology, and investigate the integration of technology into teacher education.
At the moment, technology is “normalised”, common in everyday interactions. According to the Economist, by 2020, 80% of the population will have a super computer in their pockets. Technology is offering new opportunities for us but also new problems and concerns. We need to learn when, where and how we are using it. We have an abundance of technology but all of our rules and what we do are built on scarcity. In a time of scarcity, you take whatever you can. In a time of abundance you have to be able to select.
David had a “ZX81” – you wait for half an hour to load up, but you get to 25 minutes and it wouldn’t work and you have to go back to the beginning again…!
A Wicked Problem
Trying to find out the knowledge and expertise that teachers have is a wicked problem, really difficult. David quotes Amy Tsui as saying it’s not just a matter of skill or competency alone but a combination of different things – knowledge bases, processes of pedagogical reasoning, skills of teaching and beliefs.
There should be no pure Technical knowledge, pedagogical knowledge or content knowledge, standing on their own, they need to intersect, we need to be working in the middle area. And they all need to be situated, exist within a context.
Technical skills are not particularly important as new technologies are easier and easier to use. But selectivity – selecting which technologies to use – is very important. A trainee will copy what they see. Loop training is useful. Technology needs to be integrated into the class. They should be taught to use the best tool for the right purpose at any given moment, from the abundance of tools on offer.
The best sort of transformation happens under the radar. The main problem is a lack of confidence in the technology amongst trainers, which is transmitted to the trainees. It’s a fear of losing control, their relevance in the classroom, of being taken over by technology. However, a teacher’s ability to step back and allow students to have some control of the lesson may well be the way forward in the 21st century.
Teachers must look at the why underpinning the use of technology. The role of the teacher is not diminished but repositioned. It’s not a threat but an opportunity.
21st Century skills
- creativity and innovation in use of technology
- critical thinking and problem-solving
- collaboration and teamwork
- flexibility and lifelong learning
Same skills as ever, but within the context of technology. So that the role of the teacher and student are reimagined, with the teacher as a guide, and the student more active.
Solutions for teacher training
- use communities of practice, where people work together with a common learning goal
- expert-novice teacher mentoring e.g. expert teachers with novices who are technologically advanced
- flipped classroom – trainees and teacher educators learn how to use a piece of technology in their own time outside the classroom and share their ideas and experience within the framework of the session
The idea of this talk was to make us think “Why am I using this? What am I using it for? What alternatives do I have?” – this is the way to face the abundance of technology and be selective.
Another really interesting talk. 🙂