IntroductionThe development of technology has amajor impact on all areas of contemporary life. It offers people manyopportunities to learn, share and improve ourselves independently and actively.It is a big change which gives learners as well as teachers chances to take upand create new trend in education. To be more specific, there are some aspectsfor us to focus on. Opportunities to facilitatelearning and teaching in contemporary times Information and CommunicationTechnology (ICT) has been becoming an integral part of education.
The Internetprovides great sources of information for students wherever and whenever theycan connect to the online world. In the 21st century learning, studentsare equipped with not only skills for learning and innovation, but also skillsfor information, media and technology. Modern-day students are known as digitalnatives who are “native speakers of technology, fluent in the digital languageof computers, video games, and the Internet” (Prensky, 2005, p.8 as cited inMartin, 2011, p.
30). According to Jonassen, Howland, Marra, & Crismond (2008),there are many opportunities for teachers to facilitate effective learning todigital natives in contemporary times by applying technology. First of all, technologyis a tool to support knowledge construction. Learners can represent theirideas, understandings, and beliefs; moreover, they can produce organized,multimedia knowledge bases by their own. Secondly, technology helps learnersexplore knowledge to support learning by constructing. Students can look up andaccess needed information easily and comparing their perspective, beliefs, andworldviews. Thirdly, technology gives authentic context by representing andstimulating meaningful real-world problems, situations, and contexts. Next,technology provides social medium for learners to collaborate with others, todiscuss, argue, and build relationship among members of a community.
They arealso described as the “collaboration generation” (Tapscott & Williams,2008). Finally, technology helps learners to reflect on what they have learnedand how they came to know it and to support thinking. Besides, Bowman (2015)stated that digital natives in future classroom have to achieve a variety ofcomplementary capabilities: connecting, speaking, listening, leading, andwriting.
They will be not only active but also skillful to meet the socialrequirements.Using technology gives students freedomto discover solutions for problems both independently and collaboratively. However,teacher should be used as a supplement to normal teaching instead of replacingfor it (Higgins, Xiao, &Katsipataki, 2012). Theopportunities of online learning and the combination of open educationalresources and other technologies can raise educational productivity. We canstrive for students to engage to achieve the learning outcomes for eachstudent’s level by different new kinds of teaching such as virtual or onlinelearning, full-time online schools, and digital resources.
In other words,Selwyn highlighted that “teachers still have a valuable authoritative role ineducating, informing, managing and directing the technological activities ofchildren and young people.”ICT and teaching language in TienGiang province context Nguyen (2015, p.106, p.119) conducted asurvey on school facilities for ICT in the schools in Tien Giang province.
Thesurvey showed that there are not many ICT facilities in primary and secondaryschools, but high schools received more equipment. The reasons for this lack offacilities for teaching are financial autonomy and teachers have not beentrained to use digital technologies in the classroom. In terms of competencewith ICT, most of the teachers used ICT facilities at their schools or homesfor preparing lessons and searching the Internet.
Simultaneously, some teachersused computers for online communications and e-mails. As for expectations forfuture professional development, all teachers want to apply technology inlesson plans and class activities. From the opposed point of view, theimplementation of ICT mission in this province will be based on computer-basedor digital technology. Applying technologies in myteaching context I am now working as an Englishteacher at a language center and as a tutor at home. My classes are located inTien Giang province which is belonged to Mekong Delta.
Although we still lackof technologies or supporting devices, I have conducted some successful lessonsbased on technology-based teaching. Because I am teaching a various kind ofstudents, I can experience how technologies can affect positively to theprocess of teaching in different students’ levels. Firstly, using Youtube is a greatidea to maximize the engagement of students to attain the intended learningoutcomes, especially with kindergarten and kids. For example, the students cansing songs, read out alphabets, watch short cartoons and make role-play. Itseems that the lessons are more interesting, attractive and easy to understand.Moreover, it also changes the ways students get information, acquire knowledgeand expose to authentic language sources.
For example, to adult learners, theycan watch how the real language is used in life and find the culturaldifferences between two countries as the attraction to explore. They can alsofind the online lessons instructed by native teachers as their references,follow the most popular trends over the world and update the global news. Tohelp my students improve their listening skill, I often require them to findinteresting videos by their own, dictate, summarize and present it in front ofclass as homework. After being familiar with this method, students have showntheir improvement in listening skill, speaking skill and vocabulary competence. Secondly, social networks includingFacebook and Zalo are effective in teaching and group discussion. Due to thelimit of time in class, I have created some groups for my students where theycan continue to access to lessons and further related discussions.
Bycommunicating in these groups, the gap between teacher and students is closerthan before. I can understand what they still not understand and which contentsthey find attractive during class time. To me, it is a great chance to revisemy teaching methods and techniques. Besides, some of students had takenpictures which were related to the previous lessons such as pieces of pizza andposted in the topic “Food” to share with friends. Others posted some Englishsentences or slogans that they misunderstood and asked for more explanation.
Because these groups are private, we can have a free space to bring all thingsoutside class into lessons or vice versa without any pressure. Before importantexaminations, especially the national entrance exams, when my students wereextremely stressful, we had made a group video call to review the key points,language focus and common mistakes. On the other hand, I could conductsuccessfully several guided class journals by asking students to write as dailydiary. After a period of time, their writing skill had improved a lot in termsof fluency. As for speaking skill, in addition to the practice in class, I frequentlyasked them to record vocabulary for each unit to check their pronunciation andgive feedback. In this circumstance, they did not feel shy to speak out andreduced the percentages of losing face in front of classes, even the passiveones.
The students seemed to pay more attention to the pronunciation, stressesand tones of itself words and sentences. It seems that they feel at ease duringclass time and practice more because they could be supported even after school. Thirdly, for testing and assessment,Google Forms is one of the most useful and practical tools that I am veryinterested in. Comparing to the tests/quizzes conducted in class by paperforms, this technology gives both teachers and learners a much more convenientway. To students, they can take the tests comfortably to reflect on what thelearned for each lesson regardless of space and location they are. After thetests, they can receive immediately results and answers to see their mistakesand learn from it. To teachers, Google Forms allows me to provide a fullformative assessment with the useful technical support such as adding imagesand videos to check students’ listening and writing skills. Moreover, aftereach tests, I can receive the results and calculated percentages for separateparts to analyze and evaluate whether the process of teaching and learning is goodor not.
Recently I have completed an onlinecourse called Microsoft Innovative Educators (MIE). With the Office 365 system,MIE program is built for teachers and students with full of powerfultechnological tools. For example, by using OneNote, I can put all my classmaterials and organize it as a digital notebook; simultaneously, I can bringstudents together in collaborative space or giving them individual support inprivate notebooks within Class Notebook.
Although this program is beingpopularized, I think it is a synchronous way to delivery productive lessonseffectively. The effects of connectivist theories onteaching context According to Siemens (2014), connectivismtheory is the learning theory in digital age which applies technologycapability in teaching and learning in the field of e-learning. It has a greatimpact on choosing the new changes in my teaching context. Based on theprinciples of connectivism, there are some positive effects that inform thechosen technologies. The students obtain knowledge bysharing, chatting and posting a diversity of opinions on “networked learning” (Darrow,2009). By using Facebook and Zalo to communicate and interact with friends,students can easily share individual opinions in group discussions and makeimprovement in school. It is a great combination of connecting a wealth ofinformation sources and collaborative learning. Students are motivated to learnfrom their peers online receive and give feedback to one another.
In myopinion, it is one of the models of blended learning in which students canachieve learning objectives through a combination of face-to-face and onlinecommunication to delivery lesson. This learning model lets my students havemore time to spend your time on their interests based on what they had learnedin class. It enables me to rethink about my teaching methodology to stimulateinterest in students and help them develop self-directed learning skills aswell as digital literacy. Similarly, the learning environment has changed frominside to outside classroom and vice versa. This opens for us to create acommon place to expose the language. On the hand, critical thinking is a greatimpact of connectivist theories on students’ learning. In terms of assessment,students have changed from traditional paper test forms into online assessmentlike Google Forms.
It requires students think more logically and actively,especially they can solve the problems based on what they learn than justanswer the pointed answers. Besides, with the massive resources such Wikipedia,Google, and Youtube, students can be free to explore the target language thanobserve passively all time in class. Conclusion To sum up, digital literacy andtechnology-enhanced learning and teaching are becoming new educational trend inthe 21st century. The key to future success of digital natives willfocus on developing a critical thinking and problem solving skills forlife-long learning in technological environment.
As future educators, I shouldprepare skills and knowledge for students to be global citizens for the demandsof social life in digital age.