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MirandaNet Fellowship Profiles (MirandaNet Archive - as of March 2015)
I have been teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) since 1998, and in the UK since 2001. I have a BA in English Language Teaching (University of Stirling) and an MA in Applied Linguistics & TESOL (University of Leicester). In addition, I have two teaching-specific professional qualifications: Certificate of Education and a Cambridge Certificate of Teaching English Language to Adults (CELTA ). I look forward to meeting MirandaNet members and exchange ideas on various and ICT and education topics in the future.
The MA programme (University of Leicester), which I completed in 2005, offered me the chance to explore interesting and thought-provoking insights into my practice via the research I carried into teaching, learning and educational technologies. My dissertation research project was on the use of Interactive Whiteboards in English Language Teaching in the UK. In the past I have utilised, developed and managed resources for VLEs (Virtual Learning Environments) such as Web-CT and Moodle to motivate learners and to support teaching programmes. I have been using Interactive Whiteboards in my teaching since 2000, the first time I came across the technology was when I was an English Language teacher in the Maldives. Currently, I use Interactive whiteboards on all of my programmes on a weekly basis. I have had the opportunity to deliver staff training on teaching related technology such as Interactive Whiteboards, Podcasting, VLEs. My other ILT contributions include working actively in an LSC funded ILT & ESOL Project at City College Coventry in 2006.
Following is an outline of my MA research project conducted in 2004. The programme was an MA in Applied Linguistics and TESOL. The topic of the project was 'Interactive Whiteboards: Current Practice and Some Implications for English Language Teaching'
Interactive whiteboards (IWBs) are a fairly new innovation in the UK education sector. A teacher involved in the profession of English Language Teaching (ELT)might want to know whether this new technology is being used in ELT and if so, what differences (if any) has it made to the different constituents (teachers, learners, materials and the experiences involving all of these) in the teaching and learning environments. ELT teachers who already use the equipment might be curious to find out whether their own experiences with the IWB are similar to others working in the profession and if there are still possibilities with the equipment that they have not explored. Unfortunately, at the time of the current project, there have hardly been any publications on research conducted into this specific area of ELT. In this sense, the project is seen as a significant one and it is envisaged that this study may help ELT teachers to address some of their queries about IWBs.
2. Aims of the Study
The general aim of this action research project is to identify the various activities that English Language teachers and learners engage in when using IWBs; possible applications from studies of IWBs in general education settings; the attitudes of ELT teachers and learners towards the use of the technology in ELT and the types of ELT materials that can be used with IWBs. In working towards achieving the aim, three main processes will take place - a literature review; conducting of a small-scale study based on a mixture of qualitative and quantitative research methods; references to ELT materials for use with IWBs and finally, a specification of some recommendations based on the project. References to and discussion of ELT materials will take place at various relevant points of the report.
3. The Findings
Following is a summary of the findings from the the small-scale research conducted in the project. The findings were based on the analysis of lesson observation data, data collected through teacher and learner interviews and questionnaires.
1. The IWB was mainly used to teach vocabulary using whole-class teaching methods and this reflects the teachers' views as to the most natural role for IWBs in ELT lessons. However, not all IWB tools that facilitate this mode of teaching were observed in the sessions.
2. The reliance on whole-class teaching methods using IWBs may have been at the expense of other IWB-based activities such as group/pair work and roleplay activities. Such reliance may affect learner satisfaction.
3. Even though theory and studies have shown that IWBs can be a potential platform for writing activities, the focus on this skill was not significantly observed throughout the observations.
4. Learner focus on the IWB and some features such as accessibility of boardwork via printing may have played a part in the limited amount of notes made by learners through the lessons.
5. IWBs can be used to teach any skill or area of ELT, using a variety of teaching modes such as whole-class teaching and group-pair work modes and such maximum use may be needed to justify the cost of the equipment.
6. Technical problems associated with IWBs could hamper the effectiveness of lessons.
7. The learners generally have a very positive attitude towards the ELT activities conducted using IWBs and the most highly rated tasks are where students interact with the board physically or using remote devices; activities that involve images and multimedia and the Internet. Teachers too find ‘Student-to-IWB ‘interaction activities very useful.
8. IWBs may increase lesson planning time, at least at the early stages, but are likely to save class time and increase the pace of lessons.
9. At least initially, learners may find writing on the board an awkward task.
10. Most learners believe that IWBs encourage them to take part in class discussions, although the clarity of visuals may result in fewer clarifying questions than when a traditional whiteboard is used.
11. Practical issues such as availability of IWBs; room allocations; technical problems; and staff expertise may limit the extension of IWB-teaching into all ELT lessons and areas of teaching.
12. Teachers believe that the multimode stimuli provided by an IWB, particularly its visuals, may make the lesson clearer and possibly enrich the content too.
13. Generally speaking, learners' concentration level in lessons may be raised by the use of IWBs.
14. An overwhelming majority of the learners believe that IWBs are more enjoyable and more useful in their learning than traditional whiteboards. The latter point is shared by all the teachers and also reflected in the responses by the observers in 4 out of the 6 observations.
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