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Get Mobile. Get Outside. Putting technology in its place

Ahead of his talk at iELT16, Geoff Stead of Platinum sponsor Cambridge English Language Assessment gives us this thoughts on technology in education… 


Where does technology fit in your classroom? Is it a collection of tools in your teaching toolbox . . .  or is it trying to BE the entire toolbox? Does it let you take learning outside or does it try to keep it in the classroom?

I’ve had the privilege of spending the past ten or so years developing mobile learning apps often targeting learners who, for many diverse reasons, are not well served by traditional learning. We’ve built games, communication apps, augmented reality and performance support tools – but hardly any full-fledged courses, or “complete learning systems”.

So what’s wrong with all-in-one, complete systems? When it comes to mobile and other emerging technology, One Size Never Fits All.

Students have different needs. New learning sites and apps appear all the time. The best learning materials are a mix of structured resources, and those hacked from local sources the day before. The best learning happens in class, AND out of class. The same things are true with technology.

Technology has a seductive allure, a complex mix of:

  1. “shiny new toy” syndrome
  2. a bit of “snake oil”
  3. and a massive ability to transform the way teachers teach, and the way learners learn.

To be a Digital Ninja, teachers need to master these three forces and put their power to good:

  1. make use of the “shiny” factor to find new ways to engage learners
  2. develop the skills to critically evaluate digital, and see through those “snake oil” claims
  3. pick and mix the technologies that fit your style, and work for your students

Critical steps on the path to Ninja-hood are figuring out how to evaluate different apps, how to cope with different platforms and file formats, and how to manage the grubby, hacker, hybrid, evolving technology life that we all really live in. This applies to the student (good for them), AND the teacher (customising for their student’s needs).

Please join my session on Saturday at InnovateELT 2016. I’ll be sharing a mix of tools and apps that do one or two things very well. But none that do everything. You’ll see some:

  • Augmented reality
  • AI / Automated marking of writing
  • Spaced Learning
  • As well as some crazy mobile artworks, and other fun

In return, please BRING ME YOUR FAVOURITE APPS. Come and share what you like, and what works for you. This is your chance to influence how Cambridge uses digital in our next generation of resources.

Lets figure out this crazy technology world together, and remember: One Size Never Fits All

See you in Barcelona

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