Is Technology panacea?
Some very important issues have been raised this week during the discussion among members of the webskills course. We are all technology enthusiasts but not so carried away that we could neglect examining various factors teachers should consider when embarking on integrating technology into their lessons.
To start with, a question that is posed is whether there will come a time that teachers will become obsolete. I personally doubt that and I agree with those who claim that it is the teacher's role that will change. The teacher is all the more expected to guide students into their learning adventure and "pave the way" for their mental and social development. However, this entails that the teacher should be able to "pave the way" that every single student can potentially take - "the way" that best fits his/her personality and learning style. How feasible can that be and how can we expect a teacher to achieve such a huge goal when he or she has to cater for more than 25 different individuals' needs in most cases? Technology can at this point prove to be a helping tool. A computer and appropriate for a learning situation software can help a teacher with the designing of an individualised lesson. This does not necessarily requires a language lab, but only computer corners in an ordinary classroom. This will allow students who need to practice a particular language area more to do so at their own pace while other students are being engaged in a different activity. It can also be a solution for students who are fast learners and easily get bored when the teacher slows down to help struggling students. Thus, the teacher is still there like a conductor of an orchestra or a director of a performance.
Another point raised is whether students learn better when using a computer than having a teacher in a face-to- face setting. No doubt, the latter strikes as being more interactive and more humane as a teacher can tell whether the student is in good mood or in good physical condition. Computers, on the other hand, can increase the possibilities, by the means of the Internet and tools such as Skype, for students to interact with native speakers of a foreign language and thus become genuinely motivated to use the language. So the artificial at first sight classroom can be an open window to the world. Let alone that students who live in remoted areas can benefit from sources and learning communities and social networks, otherwise totally missing in their location.
Finally, a point that sounds alarming for teachers is the time management and the possible mingling of working time and personal time. I personally feel that there is a likelihood of being addicted to spending most of your time in front of the screen of your computer but still it is again a matter of personal capability to develop and keep distinct limits between professional and personal life. No matter what, this is a new world and has come to stay. It is up to humans to take advantage of the benefits of technology and control their lives properly.