A photocopier or an iPhone: which is more powerful?

The slide, above, comes from a session I gave on a CELTA course at IH Barcelona last week, during which I asked the question which gives this post its title, referring to their possible use in a language classroom.

I asked the trainees to place the two tools on a scale of 0-10. "What's a '10'?" someone immediately asked, a question which I perhaps hadn't given sufficient thought to in advance (!). I said "mind-blowing", and then altered that to "mind-blowingly amazing"… And then said, "Actually, a '0' is mind-blowing, too: mind-blowingly boring".

My point was that in order to take full advantage of the potential technology has nowadays, we need to get "beyond the photocopier" and start using — start our learners using, that is — some of the (to my mind) far more powerful tools available to us (and which are quite possibly in our learners' bags and pockets).

To see some of those possibilities, and to keep up with how technology is/should be changing education, I suggested the sites also shown in the slide:

They are perhaps particularly good on mobile technology (smart phones and tablets) and current trends (like the "flipped classroom"). They do have a tendency on occasions to be a little vague and short on actual practical ideas (though here's an activity that has worked great!). But, apart from helping you to keep up, they have another bonus: they make you think.

Articles posted on such sites are often in the format "10 ways to…". They sometimes then disappoint when you start to read them but it's interesting first to try and make up your own "10 ways", before reading the article. A couple of recent examples:

To "follow" such sites, you probably want Twitter or an RSS feed (for which TheOldReader or Flipboard, the latter for mobile devices, would be my choice).

So which is more powerful…? As I remember it, my trainees' highest score for both was an "8". Feel free to disagree (I do!) in the comments!

Redesign your classroom

Love this video, and the idea behind it, which comes from the excellent Edutopia (via the equally excellent MindShift).

With or without actually showing the video to students, the idea of redesigning your classroom makes a great language classroom task.

Surveying people on what they'd like (Google Docs forms are wonderful); collaborating on creating the redesign (a shared Google Drive document is again great for that); and an oral presentation to the class (backed up with a shared Google Drive presentation, PowerPoint, Prezi…); followed by discussion of which is the best idea (an Edmodo poll and comments…) are some of the ways your learners could use technology to create their redesign.

All you'd then need would be the funding ;-)!

Another wonderful lesson plan from Film English

Here's one of the best things I took away from yesterday's Image Conference: a wonderful lesson plan to accompany the above video.

I highly, highly recommend Kieran Donaghy's Film English, which recently won an ELTON. It has great lesson plans based on short films, which are invariably wonderfully as films, which people then seem to respond to so well in class, possibly because what they're watching is so much more than just another piece of listening material.

Without having seen the video, a colleague (hi, Kate!) had a class of teens produce a series of motivational "quotes" on index cards which they then posted around her school (classroom and corridor noticeboards, mostly), hoping that people would respond to them in some way.

They in fact didn't do so very much, but they loved the idea!

50 ways to use music and song in the classroom

Just a quick link to a wonderful collection of great ideas on using music and song from David Deubel's excellent blog.

Heres' one of my personal favourites for using song, from the same source, though if I had to pick one idea for exploiting songs (and particularly YouTube video clips) I'd have to say using them as a starting point for writing collaborative stories — for example with Norah Jones or Bruce Springsteen.

Favourite Edmodo+song activity: when someone (preferably not the teacher) shares a song video and it generates a huge amount of unexpected discussion…

Technology makes writing better. Discuss

Hi and welcome to my blog, especially if you are coming to my session at the Macmillan Teachers Day here in Barcelona tomorrow, May 4th.

In my session, "Technology makes writing better", I'm going to be suggesting that Web 2.0 tools such as Blogger, Edmodo, Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) and TodaysMeet make the sort of writing task we get on Cambridge exams like FCE, CAE and Proficiency better — in that, with the help of not too much technology the tasks can be made more collaborative and thus more fun, more productive in terms of language learning, and so much more 21st century.

Links from the session

After the session, I'll be posting an edited version of the presentation on Slideshare, and here on my blog…

Comments, feedback, suggestions, other ideas…? Do make them — either here or else on the TodaysMeet for the session.