I may sound like a Luddite when I say that I believe we need to be careful about how we see and use technology in education. Far from it: I’m a British Council certified online tutor, I’m a blogger, I moderate the IATEFL LMCS SIG discussion group at Yahoo Groups, I coordinate the ELT Online Reading Group, I co-ordinate the ERF website, and I’m also a member of the BC ELT Online Community. I spend most of my waking time online and if there is a way to integrate technology to ELT be sure I’m for it.
However, I maintain that we have to be careful about how we see technology in education. I simply read in dismay when people write things such as ‘our students breath technology’. Technology could be taken as a given if you live in a developed country or belong to the middle-upper class in a developing one. What about the rest of language learners, which form the vast majority around the world? What about learners in Africa, Latin America, and some Asian countries where you have just one computer in the school? What about countries where people only have electricity during counted hours during a day? Where kids do not have access to textbooks, let alone laptops? Where teachers have never heard of a blog, let alone flickr, pikkids and other funny names?
Unfortunately, I have to say that one of the negative points at IATEFL Cardiff was the opening plenary with Marc Prensky. Surely entertaining, but shallow, biopic and the stereotypical talk of an America salesperson. He used a variety of techniques to try to convince teachers that we are all dinosaurs who will be soon extinct with we don’t ally with the young generation that is born into technology. There certainly is some truth in that but the whole talk was highly misleading. Teachers know fairly well that technology came to stay and that that we have to be update. This is not the point. The point is how to make technology accessible to a wider number of learners, how to include technology in CPD and, mainly, a serious consideration of the pedagogic and educational principles underpinning the use of such technologies.
I still want to see a session where “webheads” stop preaching us the advantages of technology to start reflecting on how, why, and with what purposes we are using it.