Why aren't you using technology in your classes?

A cyber-mate of mine is doing some research into teachers' attitudes to using technology...

questionmark by marco bellucci
so I was wondering if you wouldn't mind leaving me your thoughts on the main reasons that you're not using laptops, smartphones, data projectors, powerpoint or any of those web 2.0 tools I mention on this blog at times - so that I can pass this info on to him..?

In fact, if you could forward this posting on as an email to your colleagues or print it out and ask them to write a comment below then I'd be doubly grateful.

Your help with this, very much appreciated!


p.s. ways to contact me other than leaving a comment below:

16 Responses to “Why aren't you using technology in your classes?”

  • Alex Case says:
    October 07, 2009

    My lesson planning process is to brainstorm (formally or informally- otherwise known as think about!) all the different ways I could do something and then use the best one that I can prepare in the time I have available. That best idea often turns out to be a worksheet I can prepare, so that is what my lessons often are. Other times it's a Youtube clip, a webquest, an online game etc, and if I have time to prepare it properly (often also involves preparing a worksheet!) that is what we do instead. Then there are a few other times when I use technology to shake up a class who are about to get bored or tired. Then, to be honest, there are the many times when I do something (technology or not) because that is what I've been doing recently and so it is the thing that pops into my head at the brainstorming stage.

    More minor but still important things:

    - What I can publish is a factor, e.g. am more likely to put extra time into using a website if I think I can get an article out of it but know that my worksheets are more popular because many teachers don't have a computer with projector/ IWB in the classroom
    - I'm obsessed with natural light in the classroom and hate pulling down the blinds
    - We have noisy projectors that take ages to turn on and leave a blue rather than blank screen when you press the blank button. There is one room with a better projector and I find myself using it much more
    - I avoid technology in my own life (share one mobile with my wife, never click on "funny" youtube clips people send me, print out long online article I want to read, deliberately choose cafes with no wifi to work in), and so I don't have a huge list of things I could do with it
    - Believe that Powerpoint and flipcharts in the classroom are overwhelmingly negative, especially with students like mine who never listen to instructions or spoken explanations and are always looking for the teacher to do the work during brainstorming etc

  • Unknown says:
    October 07, 2009

    I don't ask my students to use editing tools like Wikis, Ethernet etc. because:

    1. They prefer to actually physically sit down together and work at the university when possible. They see that as a more efficient way of collaborating.
    2. In any case, my syllabus would not give me time to effectively teach sts how to use these apps.
    3. It would also not give me enough time to think about how I could actually teach their use effectively.
    (Yes, I resemble a headless chicken a lot of the time.)

    My sts don't use laptops in class because they would have to bring their own to uni. They would not want to run the risk of losing them and would not want to carry them in unless there was a very convincing reason for them to do so. I don't have that reason.

    I don't ask my students to use their mobiles for searching etc because many of them are already at war with their parents about how much they spend a month on their phones.

    Well, there are a few reasons for what I don't do.

    October 07, 2009

    Thank you Glennie and Alex,

    Both of these answers are outstanding useful!

    Ta, K

  • Unknown says:
    October 08, 2009

    I would love to use more technology in class and get more of my teachers using it too. After all, the students spend all their breaks emailing and facebooking so why not harness that ability? That's the English they need!

    Anyway the reason is I do not have the resources - no time, no money. Basically because the management/owners think teaching is something that only happens at a white board with a textbook. I was promised 10,000GBP investment that disappeared so no laptops for the students, no Ed Tech training for the teachers.

    I have managed to get Moodle, although it is practically free. Trouble is I don't get enough time on it. Only purely financial returns seem to get attention.

    So the problem for me = lack of resources.


  • Darren Elliott says:
    October 08, 2009

    The thing that stops me is access. I've just been granted a classroom with internet access and a data projector, but I have to take my own laptop. Some rooms have blackboards and cassette decks.

    But actually, it doesn't matter - if we are going to use technology I want THEM to use it, not look at me using it. So a blackboard or an interactive whiteboard is all the same. What I would like is a better laid out 'computer room' (I hate that phrase), which allows the students to move around and interact instead of sitting in lockstep rows each facing a huge PC overloaded with security that means everything takes a week to load.

    So what I do is use the mobiles as much as possible (not smart phones in the iphone sense, but smart in a lot of ways I'm still learning about), and let them explore technology in their own time after my introduction. This semester, I'm using tumblr.com for a class blog, and librarything.com for extensive reading records (I've written a bit about each over on my own blog).

  • anisoara says:
    October 09, 2009

    I have touse the new Web 2.0 technology in my classes in the case of higher education students for whom attendance is mandatory. Using asynchronous text and voice tools enables them to contribute at their own pace and most convenient time, to get in touch with the real world of speakers out there and even professionals in their field and of course with other students whom we invite to our class blog.
    Students are extremely motivated, become more aware of the transparency of their work in the public sphere and therefore more motivated to use dictionaries and reedit and revisit their work. I must confess it is more time consuming for me as a teacher to use technology because this involves pretesting technology, designing a plan B whenever technology fails, adapting classical materials to the digital field, continuously learning myself, to mention just a few impediments. Although I am not an advocate of technology (as a previous poster said, I also started using a mobile only 2 years ago and hate to become its slave), for me technology is more than just a choice, it has become a necessity to help students in the way that best suits their needs, their learning style.
    Anisoara from Romania

  • Anonymous says:
    October 09, 2009

    I agree with Anisoara's view although I have to say I support incorporating IT in foreign language classroom because they can help us help our students become more autonomous in the process of acquiring a FL and more efficient or successful, if you'd like, in SLA.
    I use PC and projectors, sometimes hyperlinks to certain web sites in the FL classes. I teach BE at the Faculty of Economics and lecturers here are able to use Infolabs which are equipped with cca 40 computers each. However, it is complicated to use these because groups I teach have different timetables and the Infolabs are not always available so for me to find the time when my students, the labs and myself are available is a difficult tasks.
    Still, last year, for instance, I did a few interactive activities generated with the help of Hot potatoes which supported a podcast on the topic we practiced at the time. My students enjoyed it.
    It is true, however, it is time consuming but once you have it prepared you can use it with more than one group and more than one generation of students.
    At the institution I teach at, lecturers face the problem of the size of classes. One group equals 50-60 students.
    Another problem might be that some teachers/lecturers lack IT skills and knowledge. etc. etc.
    Magda Pasalic, Faculty of Economics, University of Split, Cratia

  • Anonymous says:
    October 09, 2009

    Why I am not using technology in my classes: actually I do as much as I can, but these are my greatest inhibitors:-

    1) having to schlep a ton of stuff from place to place (laptop, cables, projector, etc.) But useful for reviewing academic writing in class
    2) having to set up the above-mentioned stuff and dismantle it again (even if you're quick it eats up your time)
    3) having to get my head around even more new technology: last semester I was happy with my own pbworks wiki (thanks to Carl Dowse's presentation at BESIG) but now my uni is starting with Moodle-
    4) having students who object to signing up for things, getting a Google or Yahoo ID or generally posting anything on the Net (though lots of them have their whole life stories on StudiVZ!) Most university students are reasonably competent regarding the technology, though, so this hasn't been a problem. A wiki or blog is a great homework writing and research opportunity which students can use at home and offer peer feedback.
    5) I am not a 2nd life or twitter fan; I would prefer to learn Moodle properly than to spread my attention too thinly. I am a big fan of email lists, which is where I got the call to write here.

    Good luck!

    October 09, 2009

    Hi Tony, Magda, Anisoara, Caroline and Darren - thank you so much for your very valuable comments! It looks like the problem is mainly one of access - although this is for Gavin rather than me, I've found the exercise really useful for putting a finger on the issues surrounding the use of technology: thank you so much for sharing!


  • Anonymous says:
    October 09, 2009

    Basically access, there are no facilities in the rooms I use except the students laptops. In addition the sice of the groups working with 40 students in each group, and I have, 8 groups means that I cannot even speak to them all individually in a lesson let alone work with them on using technology.
    BTW I want to use webquests this semester and ideas on how to produce 40 + individual webquest topics in a shorts time. On the theme of economics.

    October 09, 2009

    Re your webquests request... off the top of my head (you know I'm a dogme teacher right ;-)...

    1. Brainstorm potential topics for research with your students - extract as many varieties under as many themes you absolutely must touch on this semester.

    If it helps, start the mindmap on the board for them (people, theories, factors, language... the topics in the book you're using) but pretty much within the first 15 minutes the students should be providing most of the potential themes.

    2. Once your board is completely full (100 potential topics?), ask your students to take a piece of paper and individually list their own personal 5 most interesting subjects.

    3. Ask two members of your class to then take over the board and get them to elicit from both sides of the room the 5 favoured topics.

    4. From this narrowed down list, choose the 8 topics with the highest points. And circle these.

    5. Now ask the 8 groups to select as a group, the topic they would like to create webquests on.

    (The purpose of the brainstorming was to get them thinking)

    6. Now as a group, they need to create the "design" for five different webquests under the theme chosen.

    (You can also ask them to choose roles - who's the creative director, who's the secretary, who's the researcher... etc) - tho they aren't doing the webquest themselves, they're creating the design for one.

    7. At the end of this, you should have 40 webquests.

    Now ask them to swap them with the differing groups and students - should mean that each of your students is doing someone else's quest.

    Hope that helps!


    p.s. and obviously, thanks for your comments on the technology issue ;-)

  • Anne Hodgson says:
    October 13, 2009

    I tend to have videos and online links / wifi access ready when I go to my incompany classes, but the people I teach be in natural sunlight whenever possible, so I've been known leave what I've prepared to show on my laptop or using a projector in favor of doing it without technology, at the drop of a hat. Let me rephrase that: Since I print out less and less, I just have discussion points/ pictures on my laptop, which I hand around and everyone can work with/ use.

    At college, I recently repeated debate topics I'd previously had students prepare using powerpoint or similar tools, and opted for improvised presentations instead, playing some games from the theater, and in fact found that the language turnaround was much quicker. We were able to get to the heart of the matter far more directly, affectively and effectively.
    I love technology, but sometimes it's simply in the way.

  • Nita says:
    October 16, 2009

    I have slowly been introducing technology into my classes, up to a point: I use a data projector connected to a laptop with wireless internet, and we have just started a class blog. For my first couple of years teaching I hardly used technology at all, and I think there were several reasons why:
    - One issue is that although I am familiar with technology through personal use, I wasn't sure how to go about transforming it into a teaching tool.
    - On the CLTA I took (not the Cambridge one, a university course) we did not learn very much about technology. In fact I was shocked to see we had a lesson planned on "classroom tools" which included whiteboards, overhead projectors (the old style) and casette players - and this was in 2006! I am in New Zealand - we are a bit behind on IWBs but we certainly have CD and mp3 players, and data projectors freely available.
    - I think attitudes within institutions can play a role in not using technology. When many private language schools lack basic features such as student libraries, the management do not seem to understand the need to move with the times and keep students engaged.

  • James says:
    October 18, 2009

    As a reading and writing teacher, and a huge technology fan in my everyday life, I try to integrate it into lessons whenever I can. However, it is difficult to do this without shoehorning it in in a completely unnecessary fashion. As a result, most of my classes are based around handouts and the classroom PC (with projector) is rarely switched on. The use of technology is limited to writing time in the lab and teacher review by email (although the current writing project may be published here: http://www.bookrix.com/). It's also worth pointing out that most of my students (90% Korean women in their thirties) are not too fussed about using tech in class time, so their is no demand for it from the students themselves.

    I'd like to integrate it more, but so far I haven't found many ways where it would effectively embellish my classes, and I will never use technology for technologies sake.

  • Patrick Owen says:
    November 03, 2009

    I think that for me it is a question of time and good old fashioned communication. I send my students to websites for their homework and contact them by e-mail. I research materials on the internet for use in the classroom, and business students use powerpoint to make presentations. But really nothing beats the old fashioned communication games we've always used. Plus despite my computer skills I just don't have the time to prepare impressive technological displays.

  • Patrick Owen says:
    November 03, 2009

    I think that for me it is a question of time and good old fashioned communication. I send my students to websites for their homework and contact them by e-mail. I research materials on the internet for use in the classroom, and business students use powerpoint to make presentations. But really nothing beats the old fashioned communication games we've always used. Plus despite my computer skills I just don't have the time to prepare impressive technological displays.


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