Nik Peachey interviews leading academics at Harrogate about the age of digital ELT.
ELT Recruitment and Training in the Digital Age
“Digital and online material has become an essential part of the ELT mix and publishers invest millions to introduce ever more sophisticated ways of taking learning in new directions.”
“There are real benefits to this, but are we in danger of ignoring a very important person in the room: the teacher?”
Reflections on my initial reaction:
‘The teacher in the room’ conjures up contrasting connotations in my mind as I believe that the role of the teacher and ‘teacher presence’ itself is a source of much cognitive dissonance in education.
Cognitive dissonance occurs when one of our beliefs conflicts with another previously held belief. I can sense cognitive dissonance in the air, especially in academia, and that’s a good thing. It’s a precursor to positive change if ………………
We can harness the almighty cognitive dissonance mechanism to our advantage
So, is the teacher a very important person in the room?
On one hand, many teachers have come to believe in the student-centred approach and minimising teacher-centred behaviour; yet, on the other hand, it could be said that it is the enlightened teacher who, as facilitator, actually engineers the activities that can put the spotlight on students in the first place.
Because of these two realities, I’d say that there is either equal teacher-student synergy, or there is superior peer-to-peer synergy. In that case, perhaps we can longer afford to over-emphasise the role of the teacher, particularly in light of technology, which is what this interview is about.
Let me add that these two realities are the common ones most teachers subscribe to. However, as you’ll see in parts of the interview, and particularly in upcoming interviews, there are other realities that call for ‘re-imagining society to advance education’.
This interview is very thought-provoking as we get to hear what leading university academics in education have to say. Please watch the video and draw your own conclusions. Are you experiencing any cognitive dissonance? Is your model of the educational world steady as a rock or crumbling beneath your feet?
Or, rather, is it shifting, evolving and challenging you as an educator?
What would you have said if you’d been in the room at Harrogate ? What questions would you have asked?
The interview begins with panelists sharing their own bird’s eye view of the educational landscape. I’ll summarise some initial key points and then let you watch and listen to how Nik questions the panel.
Aisha Walker: talks about the misconceptions of being a digital immigrant and how fear of technology can override what’s really important; the underlying pedagogy. She stresses the need for helping teachers overcome the compulsion towards forcing technology to overshadow true learning potential in the digital age.
Pete Sharma: builds upon the pedagogical perspective by referring to the fact that publishers are now investing millions to steer learning in new directions.
He says that “technology appears without publishers whatsoever…technology just moves on….just because good materials exist, teachers are not hidebound or constrained by that material”.
Pete says some very interesting things about teacher training but you have to watch the video to see what I mean.
Nergis Ackamy: “Redefining teaching and learning is inevitable…it’s all about what, when, why, where, how….The teacher will still make the difference …but this time with technology.”
There seems to be a continuing focus on high-investment publishing and the question of how teachers can use the new technologically-enhanced published materials. However, maybe ‘use’ is the wrong word. In my experience, teachers who learn to create their own materials (at least some of the time) will have no trouble learning how to use their own creations.
She goes on to talk about taking learning outside of the class, so you can check that out in the video. This concept is not new, of course. I also think that the role of the teacher is not as cut and dried as it may seem in academic circles – there are many exciting new discoveries out there – but you’ll have to wait for my next article to find out more.
Julian Kenny: creatively refers to his own cognitive dissonance as ‘flip-flopping’ around. By saying he ‘feels like a fraud’, he is referring to that feeling we get when conflicting beliefs play tug of war with our feelings and thoughts. He feels that we are trying to span 19th, 20th and 21st centuries inside one system.
Schools are from the 19th century, teachers are from the 20th century and the students are from the 21st century….and that’s why I keep flip-flopping around.
His self-awareness is an admission that we are in flux and education is in flux – are we ready to ‘harness the almighty machine’?
I’d like to add that there are others who are looking beyond this unwieldy bridge of criss-crossing centuries to a point where they are predicting controversial trends that academic study and experience alone cannot account for.
Nik Peachey, who is an expert in Educational Technology and teacher training, asked very interesting questions and it’s been a pleasure to have such an interview host for the Harrogate convention.
Here are four of the questions he asked:
1) Are younger students who are more tech-savvy easier to teach?
2) Given that technology has had a great impact on how business is conducted and online businesses are conducted, what kind of skills do teachers need to make sure that they can keep up with where their students are?
3) How do you deal with more mature teachers who are resistant to using technology?
4) In colleges like Trinity, how much emphasis should there be on teachers’ ability to use technology within the qualifications that you offer for teachers?
How would you answer them?
What was the common thread of consensus throughout the whole discussion?
Answer: It’s all down to teacher initiative, teacher curiosity, personality and psychological factors. Those of us who learnt how to use technology from blogs and experimenting as freelance professionals understand this very well.
The changes need to take place within mindsets before changing systems, I’d say. Maybe as teachers we’ll all need to re-train and specialise in educational psychology to offer the support needed in these exciting times!!
“Sign me up”;)
I have some more exciting plenaries to cover next and we’ll witness Nik interviewing a philosophical, daring, visionary enigma.
Who am I taking about??
Till next time