Teach English in Baiyinnuoer Zhen - Chifeng Shi

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Introduction The 21st Century has so far seen dramatic technological advancement, aiding us in the way of learning, producing, integrating, engineering and changing the way we interact with each other. Innovation such as artificial intelligence, 3D printing, self-driving cars and fiber optics have changed the way the world operates and accesses information. With technology constantly evolving, the way teachers utilise this will help improve the classroom environment. As a result, it is natural that this technology should find its way into our classrooms. “Technology in education is the biggest change in teaching we will ever see.” (Top Hat blog, Himmelsbach, V., 2019). This paper will look at my own personal experiences and thoughts about how technology has changed within the classroom environment both as a student and an upcoming teacher, analysing key benefits and negatives with concluding statements. The Modern Classroom As an elementary and high school student throughout the 2000’s, technology was somewhat unchanged since the previous decade, with major innovations coming toward the end of the decade. Now-dated equipment such as chalkboards, overhead projects (OHP), VHS/DVD players, typewriters, CRT television and cassette players were all utilised while I was a student. In contrast to today, equipment such as interactive whiteboards (IWB)/smart boards, social network centers, smart tables, projectors, digital textbooks accessible on phones, tablets and laptops, and Bluetooth speakers all changing the way the students and teachers operate and engage within the classroom environment. Positive Impacts With the use of the internet students and teachers can access information for just about anything they require. It is no surprise that things such as smart phones, tablets and computers hold student’s attention so successfully. With over 4.5 billion active internet users as of June 2019 (Internet World Stats), there is an incredible amount that we can access, and this information and news is being created at an exponential rate. This means new information is being created, modified and verified constantly, and learning resources can be peer-reviewed and reliably accurate. There is technology that allows the teacher to create classroom lesson plans and general student organisation through applications and software. Information sharing and student engagement is important as it allows the teacher to distribute information to students quickly. A Chinese based company in 2018 released the world’s first AI teaching assistant, ‘NetDragon,’ where it can do things such as “use facial recognition to detect which students are in attendance for a given session.” (MobileIDworld.com, Perala, A., 2018). It can also grade papers, and create lesson exercises. Digital e-books, listening podcasts and screens that we can interact with have all evolved and improved upon the traditional pen and paper classrooms of the past. Another benefit of technology usage within the classroom is the skill itself it provides to students. Technology literacy is fast becoming a requirement for many career pathways, and with children learning how to access, use and understand specific technologies, this can contribute more to the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields and I believe will change the look of the modern workforce in the future. In this regard, I mean that many entrants into various industries will innovate and engineer upon the innovations we have seen so far, such as AI and computer sciences and quantum mechanics. Negative Impacts With many positives of a high technological classroom, there can be seen some negative impacts. Technology can inherently be quite distracting and addictive in itself. As useful it is to be able to access the internet in search of learning resources, it is also possible to be one or two clicks away from playing an online game, viewing YouTube videos or scrolling social media which can lead to procrastination. It is important that as teachers we monitor the use of the students and ensure that the screen time isn’t excessive. This means we can ensure we have their full attention for the learning period required whilst utilising the technology, such as a tablet or playing specific video content. This also changes the way the teacher teaches, as it’s not such a conventional method anymore. As we use things such as IWB, podcasts and YouTube videos we need to allow ourselves to teach and not rely on the technology to teach the students. As technology has brought us closer together around the world, more locally it is known that there can be a social disconnect through excessive technology use. This may lead to a lack in gaining important social skills necessary in the real world. Again, as teachers we must ensure we allow for pair work and group work, so as not to ‘alienate’ or isolate students to complete exercises solely in front of a screen. Lastly, I think a negative with technology is it has the possibility of reducing human effort, and may not allow students to naturally cognate their own ideas. As a student 15-20 years ago, I wouldn’t have fast access to find existing ideas. I would need to try to create my own through discussion or reading and apply it to a task or exercise. Now, if a student has trouble with for example creating a short paragraph using the phonemic chart, the student can quickly use an IPA converter website to do so. Or if a student is required to create a science project based on propulsion, a quick Google search will demonstrate results for numerous different projects suiting various grade levels. Conclusion Technology is a great benefit to the classroom when utilised specifically to tailor the needs of the lesson structure. As teachers I believe it is important that we understand how the technology that we use in our own classroom works, and understand what are the aims and what we are achieving by incorporating this into our classroom environment with our students. Technology will only become more inclusive of the classroom, so we as teachers should adapt accordingly to suit the needs of our classes and school. References Himmelsbach, V., TopHat Blog, “Technology in the Classroom in 2019: 6 Pros & Cons.” (2019) Internet World Stats, “World Internet Users Statistics and World Population Stats 2019.” (2019) Perala, A., MobileIDWorld Blog, “China-Based Education Tech Firm Launches AI Teaching Assistant.” (2018)