A Review on Paul Driver’s Talk at the 2017 IATEFL Conference in Glasgow

Bringing New Technology Perspectives to ELT (1)Photo created by Canva

Recently, I applied for the Learning Technologies SIG Roving Reporter Scholarship for the 2018 IATEFL Conference in Brighton.

The applicants were required to write a review on one of the talks within a session titled “Outside in: Bringing New Technology Perspectives to ELT” at the 2017 IATEFL Conference in Glasgow. I chose Paul Driver’s talk, as I found it very related to my research interests. A part of my PhD dissertation is focused on bringing Augmented Reality (AR) to the English language classroom, and this is how I know Paul Driver and his website, Digital Debris, where I found practical examples of AR integration in the English language classroom.

Paul was the only ELT teacher at the panel session who is in practice trying to bring the new technologies that the panelists (Geoff Stead, Donald Clark, and Yvonne Rogers) were talking about such as AI (Artificial Intelligence), geo-location, AR (Augmented Reality), and VR (Virtual Reality) into the classroom.

Paul initially argued that the ways we have access to information have recently changed, however, that information is not delivered in a pedagogically innovative way. Therefore, we need a pedagogical change, and he believes that we have to take advantage of the powerful technologies the students have now in their pockets. That is why he is interested in looking at the affordances of mobile devices to perform different activities in the classroom. It has been for years that he has been using “greenscreening” in his classrooms to create vodcasts or one-minute soap operas with his students, which gives the students the opportunity to relate the language to their personal interests and overcome the “affective filter”.

Paul then emphasized the importance of teacher training on the use of technology, which he thinks is lacking in many teaching training courses. As a teacher trainer, he tries to intertwine technology with ELT teacher training.

He also talked about geo-location, which he explored at a university in Portugal with lecture style theater seating arrangements. By using GPS technologies and mobile devices, he designed some lessons (e.g., a game called “Invader”) to take the learners outside the classroom and create interactions between them.

Paul believes that language teachers can think of using 3D printing, and incorporating and fitting it into the philosophy of PBL (Project-based Learning), TBL (Task-based Learning), CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning), and ESP (English for Specific Purposes).

Interestingly, Paul is not a fan of “gamification”, describing it as a “low hanging fruit”, which is based on behaviorist psychology and extrinsic motivation, but a fan of “digital game-based learning”, konwn as GBL, which is based on intrinsic motivation.

In addition, Paul has used VR with his students, for example, in his CELTA courses for teacher training. He recorded demo sessions of the teacher-students and have them re-watch it in VR using a head-mounted display (HMD) for reflective practice.

Finally, Paul gave a practical message to language teachers: Take control of the technology, play with it, and hack it! Do not let it be imposed on you. You as a language teacher need to improve your digital literacy to a level that you feel you are in a power position and have control over the technology.

I think by taking control Paul means the ability to create and design our own lessons in line with our pedagogical philosophy by using our imaginations and improving our tech skills, as he earlier mentioned in his talk.