A Professional Development Program Proposal for English Language Teachers: Using Technology in the Classroom

A Professional Development Program Proposal for English Language Teachers: Using Technology in the Classroom

Zoe Marlowe (Biruni University, Turkey) and Abdullah Coşkun (Bolu Abant Izzet Baysal University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3383-3.ch005

Abstract

As there is a need to enable English as a foreign language (EFL) teachers to use technology in their classes, this study aims to propose an online in-service teacher training program aiming to prepare EFL teachers in Turkey to use Google Classroom and Piktochart. The planned training module is provided on a virtual online platform known as Second Life (SL). Included in the technology training, there would be an introductory session in which the instructor could ‘walk' the participants through the particulars of operating their virtual selves, as in their ‘avatars'. The course itself could commence with a short tour of the virtual sim being used for the training sessions. Immediately following the introduction, attending avatars and the instructor would congregate in the theatre area sim of the VSTE Island conference venue in-world at SL. The instructor, addressing the participants from the virtual stage, would present according to the agenda of showcasing the possible uses of the online software packages followed by step-by-step procedural instructions for the attendees to follow.
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Introduction

Because technology is advancing so rapidly, all the phases of our lives are influenced by it. The major effect of technology on education is the most obvious as technology has led to major changes in the education systems in the world (Miller, 2011; Player-Koro, 2012; Orakçı, Durnalı, & Efe, 2018). Teachers' traditional roles as knowledge transmitters have shifted to more interactive roles, such as learning facilitators, knowledge navigators and co-learners (Kompf, 1996; Pelgrum, 2001). It is also acknowledged that the use of technology is likely to give rise to the improvement of teaching and learning processes in the English as a foreign language (EFL) classroom (Bennett, Culp, Honey, Tally, & Spielvogel, 2000).

There have been many studies concluding that technology-assisted foreign language teaching and learning contributes to the improvement of basic language skills and sub-skills, and increases foreign language learning motivation and achievement (Warschauer, 2000; Gillespie, 2006; Ko, 2017; Mahdi, 2018). In addition, Ardıç and Çiftçi (2019) suggest that the use of technology in foreign language education enables immediate feedback, facilitates interaction, increases motivation, and makes authentic resources accessible. They also point out that the student-centered approaches replacing the traditional approaches to foreign language learning/teaching require new roles for teachers as practitioners who are prepared to incorporate ICT into their classes. Therefore, it would be fair to state that English language teachers should be fully equipped to use technology in their classes.

Despite the benefits of the use of technology in the classroom, it is commonly argued that teachers have difficulty in using technology in their classes largely because of curricular pressure or logistical inadequacies in their schools (Zyad, 2016); in addition, most teachers use computers only to get access to the Internet, their email and to the word processor (Tezci, 2009). Generally, pre-service teacher training programs are accused of not preparing prospective teachers to deal with the complex demands of the social school setting (Fullan, 1993). One of the pitfalls of these programs is considered to be relevant to the integration of technology into their curriculum (Legutke, Müller-Hartmann, & Schocker-v. Ditfurth, 2006).

On the other hand, Sağlam and Sert (2012) argue that even though pre-service teacher education programs offer courses dealing with the effective use of modern technology, practicing EFL teachers in Turkey do not receive adequate in-service professional training related to technology integration into their classes. Also, Karakaya (2010) found that despite positive attitudes towards technology integration into EFL classes in Turkey, English language teachers in Turkey have difficulty in effectively incorporating technology into their classes because of the lack of professional training aiming to prepare them in line with technology integration.

More specifically, Selvi (2015) revealed that the most dominant factors preventing EFL teachers in Turkey from using ICT in their classes are as follows: the lack of technical support, encouragement and resources as well as exam pressure. On the other hand, Pamuk and Peker (2009) also uncovered that computer anxiety is the major factor hindering teachers from effectively using educational technology. In the same vein, and as a general observation, during an English language teaching (ELT) workshop in a state university in Istanbul where the lead author was presenting and discussing the use of Web 2.0 tools for the purpose of incorporating technology into EFL lessons, it was noted that many attending teachers lamented about their lack of training in the use of technology. Of the 100 attendees, over 90 percent of those teachers said they would welcome periodic in-service and other technology training workshops. The majority also commented that they would like to attend such workshops at least one or two times per school year.

Key Terms in this Chapter

VSTE Island: A simulated educational environment in Second Life created by the Virginia Society for Technology in Education, which serves as a venue for teaching and learning technology.

EFL: English as a foreign language.

Google Classroom: A virtual classroom environment created by Google, used by instructors to disseminate instruction to their students and where students can upload tasks to be graded.

Piktochart: A simplistic graphic design program application which can be used by novice or seasoned designers to create printable and/or web-based graphics.

Second Life: It is a virtual social media environment where people can sign up and create an avatar for the purpose of learning and interacting with others.

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