Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Technology in a CI Classroom, part 1

The following post is part of an ongoing series.

Last summer, I completed my Ed.S degree in Instructional Technology. For five semesters, balancing a full-time job and completing coursework was my life. At times, I still go through withdrawals of grad school and quite honestly, I constantly have to remind myself that I now have more than my Master's degree. I am very grateful for what I learned, because the program greatly opened my eyes to proper instructional technology implementation.

Now that some view me as a classroom technology "expert" (note the quotation marks implying large doubt on my end), one of the questions which I get asked is "What is the best technology to use in a CI classroom?" To be honest, I find myself struggling to respond, because although I am very aware of and well-versed in instructional technology use for the world language classroom, quite honestly, there is not much out there for the CI classroom. The problem lies in that most world language instructional technology implementation:
  1. focuses on delivery of incomprehensible input.
  2. focuses on forced output/production of language without the proper scaffolding needed.
  3. operates at a very low level of critical thinking. 
  4. serves more as a tool for student entertainment, rather than for student engagement.
  5. is merely acting as a substitution for the same activity which can be achieved identically without technology.
Another problem with proper instructional technology implementation is that so many times administrators and teachers place technology usage first (think 1:1 schools) and then as a result, curriculum and pedagogical knowledge must line up with the technology. The diagram below illustrates this:

In reality, technology implementation should be the complete opposite: One's pedagogical knowledge should serve as the standard, with curriculum and technology aligning with the pedagogy itself, as illustrated in the diagram below:

In other words, for a CI classroom, Comprehensible Input should drive our classrooms, not technology; technology should only be used to support the delivery of understandable messages.

Another problem with a reliance on placing technology implementation before both curriculum and pedagogical knowledge is that if one is not careful, technology has a very short shelf life. When focusing on technology as either substitution or entertainment and not as a tool for creating and engaging students in higher order thinking, then the novelty of that technology will wear off very quickly. Students will want to move onto the next new piece of technology for amusement. And why should they not, since this is how the teacher has modeled technology usage for them?  

In upcoming posts, I will address some various ways to implement technology in a CI classroom. I have already posted about Movie Talks and EdPuzzle, two wonderful tools to use for the delivery of understandable messages.

P.S. A few weeks ago, Krashen, Wang, and Lee published an article called The Potential of Technology in Language Acquisition. I highly recommend that you read it. In the article, the authors recommend the use of podcasts; implementing narrow listening activities; and using Movie Talks and the web tool Voice Thread as means for delivering understandable messages. 

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