How good do teachers need to be with technology?

For reasons I won't get into now, I needed to remind myself how to create a presentation using Prezi, the zooming, "bold reinvention of presentation software".

To do so, I took one idea that had seemed to go down well when scribbled on a whiteboard in a recent workshop and put it into Prezi (without doing too much zooming, which is the way to prevent Death by Prezi).

What do you think?
As teachers, as 21st century educators, do we need to be experts with technology, a bit geeky, people who know how to operate technology in all shapes and forms?

Or can we get away with being frankly a bit "hopeless" with it — technologically challenged, if you prefer?

Please, do leave your comments…

Download lessons? Or get ideas…?

Print out, photocopy and cut up… But is that what you really want?

On the support group we have for our CELTA course trainees, someone recently asked where they could find sites from which they could download lesson plans.

You can find such things at sites like TEFL.net, ESL-kids.com and Splendid-Speaking.com.

Some of the publishers also have excellent resources sites, such as OneStopEnglish and BusinessEnglishOnline.net (both from MacMillan)

What would my tutor think…?
Remember, however, that there's an awful lot of rubbish out there in cyberspace. I'd suggest, before you download material, that you should ask yourself (among other questions) what your CELTA course tutor would have thought of it?

You might also consider the source of the material. The publishers give you some guarantee of quality lesson plans, as does the excellent TeachingEnglish.org.uk, and the British Council kids site.

Whether or not the site carries Google-is-Evil ads is another consideration I might make. It does? It may be that its primary interest is to make money, not to improve your teaching…

Don't search, have things come to you

Personally, as I prefer to have things come to me, rather than having to search for them, I'd really recommend the free materials by email the ELT publishers will send out to you (in the image above, materials in my mailbox from OUP).

Is it lesson plans you really want…?
My doubt about such things is whether or not downloadable lesson plans are actually what you should be looking for.

It would be nice just to be able to get free, ready-to-print, ready-to-use stuff and not have to think further about the lessons we are teaching. But I think there is — or there ought to be! — a lot more to good language teaching than that.

Do you want to print and photocopy vocabulary worksheets — or is really the ideas, how to teach vocabulary that you really need…?

Blogging, Storytelling, Video links

Two great sets of links, both of which came from recent additions to Larry Ferlazzo's amazing collection of links:

Note also this link, which I discovered by exploring from the second of the above:

How should you use technology in the classroom? Your learners should create things with it. It shouldn't just be you finding and printing stuff for them, or displaying it to them on an interactive whiteboard.

Make your learners creators of content, not merely consumers

I don't remember who first said that, or where I heard it — but that's the secret of using technology I believe.

What a Dogme lesson feels like

The (approx.) monthly Pilgrims' Humanising Language Teaching newsletter is one I subscribe to (free).

Among the interesting articles in its back issues is one on "What a Dogme lesson feels like".

In case you wondered:

"…like a group of people freed from their expectations of the traditional teacher-student, them-and-us, relationship"

And in case you wondered what Dogme is, it's — among other things — a fascinating discussion group that will be of interest if you think your learners more important than your materials.

Things like the HLT newsletter coming to you, rather than you going looking, is one way to save yourself wasting time on the Internet, which is a good thing. Belonging to a discussion group like Dogme is one way to ensure you continue to think critically about what you and your learners are doing in your classroom.

That's a good thing, too…