The vast majority of users of net forums are there to find out information and to network with others in a kind and considerate way. Unfortunately, from time to time a troll appears who, to quote Wikipedia:
is someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum or chat room, with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion.
Last night, one such troll delhaye began the thread Does Joe Dale et al live on planet earth??? on the TES MFL Staffroom forum questioning the educational value of technologies such as blogs, podcasts and Twitter and the fervour of predominantly male language teachers, (allegedly) to be constantly promoting them. Thanks to the power of RSS, I read the post in Google Reader just before going to bed and so could 'sleep on it' and reflect on how or if I wanted to reply.
Deciding not to rant at delhaye, I chose to write a response which provided many links to different case studies on the use of ICT in MFL as well government documents encouraging its use. Reading his or her reply however, I wonder why I bothered as it only seemed to reinforce the impression that the only reason he or she started the thread in the first place was to be controversial for the sake of it rather than wanting to engage in a serious discussion.
Anyway, this is what I wrote. Hope you find it interesting and that it clarfies my position on the importance of using technology to enhance language learning in the 21st century ;)
Thank you for starting this thought-provoking thread. To see an example of how MFL teachers use technology in the classroom, you could have a look at the CILT video case studies on effective use of ICT which I and others took part in last year.
Here are some more case studies you may find interesting from the CILT 14-19 website, concerning topics such as blogging, podcasting and using a Flip video camera
As for Twitter, I’ve compiled a list of language teachers (most of whom are female) from the UK who use the micro-blogging tool to share ideas and network with each other as part of their personal learning network (PLN)
1_kiwi_chick, actualleigh, adamsutcliffe, aliceayel, amandasalt, annagrainger, astrinity, atantot, aurelagazel, bellaale, blagona, canard2008, CarpsofStDay, charte, daisybundle, danieleur, dernley, Debs1302, dominic_mcg, educ8me, elstriker, estherhardman, froggy29400, froggyval, gaelle15, german_tutor, gillottsmfl, gorsey, helenmyers, henriettemfl, huguettemf, icpjones, jendav, jjpadvis, josepicardo, jowinchester, Kath52, kaymcmeekin, kmetsch8, langwitch, louiseCrossley, lisibo, lynnehorn, lwelsh, mariefrance, markpentleton, missferretti, moodlefairy, mrslwalker, mrsmfl, mrsnpalmer, neildjones, nicpearson, northgatemfl, petitejoueuse, PrinceLanguages, painsleymfl, reesiepie, robertgreen, sam_enerve, sghani, sgiller, spanishsam, strychy, suzibewell, tortugueta, valleseco, veneziabonita, wizenedcrone, yorksmum
See these links for further info about creating your own PLN
Government policies have also been encouraging the use of ICT in MFL too. The following quote comes from the Dearing Review for example:
"Young people’s familiarity with ICT offers a great opportunity to language teachers. It seems to us that a determined commitment to use this world, which is so familiar to young people, is a key to increasing the engagement of young people of all ages with languages. New technologies can facilitate real contacts with schools and young people in other countries. They can also provide stimulus for creative and interactive work."
In a recent Ofsted report on the use of ICT in primary and secondary schools, it was noted that:
"In the schools visited, students almost always enjoyed working with ICT and were well engaged by tasks that enabled them to do so. Using ICT contributed effectively to their personal development. In sharing ideas, it helped to develop the skills of working independently and cooperatively. ICT was particularly successful in motivating disaffected boys and improving their attitudes to learning, for example through giving them opportunities to record podcasts in modern foreign languages."
See link: - http://joedale.typepad.com/integrating_ict_into_the_/2009/03/ofsted-praise-podcasting-in-mfl.html
Last Wednesday’s Guardian article on the leaked report on the reforms to the primary curriculum also made it clear that teachers were expected to be more ambitious with their use of ICT in the future and in particular that by the time pupils leave KS2 they should be familiar with such technologies as blogs, podcasts, Wikipedia and Twitter. See link for my post about this:
That said, ICT is not for everyone and is certainly not a panacea. However, there are a growing number of teachers who are experimenting with the power of blogging, podcasting etc to see how it can enhance their traditional practice and I am all in favour of this. In my own practice, I’ve found that departmental blogg is motivating for pupils as they know their work is going to be published to a real audience. Likewise, I’ve found the rehearsing, recording and editing needed to produce a good quality podcast is also an excellent way to practise and revise language structures. See this post about the Nodehill French Grammar podcasts we made for more information:
Hope this clarifies mine and others’ practice. The important thing here is we are all in this together. More and more young people are dropping languages and we need to work as a supportive network to try our hardest to improve uptake.