I expected to see more interest this year in technology and online resources at the convention, and I’m happy to say that I wasn’t disappointed. The TESOL program listed a good number of events for me to choose from. I made an effort to attend sessions related to video and technology in general. I felt drawn to one discussion group because of its title: Is Technology a Modern Blessing or a 21st-Century Curse? Learning How to Integrate Technology and Pedagogy to Support Teaching. That sounded right up my alley since I’m blessed to be professionally active as a stay-at-home mom, yet I’m challenged to learn all the technology I need to support my work. So off I went to find the appropriate conference room where this session was to be held. Soon after taking my seat in a large circle, I discovered the discussion was to be led by Randall Davis of Randall’s ESL Cyber Listening Lab. How wonderful and what an honor! I’ve used his collection of audio quizzes and referred many students to his site.
What I loved about this session was the wealth of ideas. Randall offered practical tips, such as the use of Gabcast.com to post audio to a blog. He also shared a wonderful analogy to explain the potential of the Internet to overwhelm an educator with its plentiful resources. He compared using the Internet to taking a sip from a gushing fire hydrant. I’m sorry I don’t recall whether it was his original idea or not, but I’m so happy he shared the analogy. It’s so accurate, isn’t it? Randall easily created a welcoming atmosphere, and many other ideas were voiced by participants. I absolutely loved the analogy one woman offered. It topped the fire hydrant image for me. She compared technology to a newborn baby. You love it, but as a new parent you’re not sure what to do with it. And it keeps changing. Others joked and said that it then becomes a teenager and turns on you. I chimed in by saying at that point, you can call in Super Nanny. Someone explained that Super Nannies must be web and program designers. Oh, so true!
The general consensus was that we TESOL folk love technology, but we’ve experienced a good amount of frustration in trying to use it. We recognize that we need to be realistic and practical when bringing it into our instruction. As much as we’d like it all to be as user-friendly as an on-off switch, we know that time and effort is needed for training. To make the most of any tool, you need to know how to use it.
I thank the participants of that session and Randall Davis himself for a positive experience.