A hopefully down-to-earth and accurate review of technology in teaching — A @PivotalPodcast

I was very fortunate to be asked by Paul Dix and Kevin Mulryne to contribute to their Pivotal Podcast, which aired yesterday. The text below is borrowed from their website.

José is also in charge of Digital Strategy at Surbiton High despite not having a background in technology. He sees this as an advantage because he thinks that knowing what happens in the classroom is important rather than just coming from a technological point of view. The position became available when the school invested in mobile technology a few years ago.

How do you get the best out of technology?

Technology should be invisible. It should be something you expect to work. You don’t bring candles into your classroom in case the electricity doesn’t work.

José believes that technology should always be there in the background – it should be enabling and you shouldn’t have to plan your lessons to cope if the technology doesn’t work. His aim is to have technology available and reliable in his school so there has been a lot of investment in the wifi connection, projector-less Interactive Whiteboards and the quality of the internet connection.

On top of this, the school has also concentrated on improving teaching and learning more generally – with and without technology.

We haven’t bought tablets and expected magic to happen.

The school has done a lot of research into how tablets can enhance teaching and learning – the school trains its staff to be better teachers and introduces technology to, for example, help them give better feedback or help their students be better organised or collaborate better. It’s all about how technology can fit into the picture of what makes great teaching.

Technology in language teaching

Old-fashioned language labs were removed from Surbiton High several years ago. José says this typifies how technology in learning has changed. Teachers used to plan a lesson for the language lab and take their classes to the technology. Now, however, tablets ‘are’ the language lab so teachers just plan lessons and use the technology where it is useful.

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