Technology, digital, online – these words can either excite or strike fear in the hearts of teachers! We’re all familiar with those painful moments; when the video you’ve carefully selected for your class won’t load, or several of your students’ tablets keep crashing. But we may also be familiar with the enthusiasm students have when we say “OK, time for a game!”, or the amazingly creative content learners produce when they’re given a recording device and a camera.
Digital learning materials provide opportunities for learners that go beyond what we can offer with books and paper. The key to embracing these opportunities is by having an awareness of what they are, and how we can make best use of them in the classroom.
One way of doing this is by assessing the pedagogical value of digital materials. Do they satisfy the principles of second language learning? Just like we would do with any kind of materials or resources, we need to consider the “goodness of the fit” for the learning objectives of our learners.
Principles for language learning
Here are a set of principles for language learning, followed by the types of questions that could be asked about the digital resource to assess its appropriateness for the learning context. In addition, some examples of the types of resources these could apply to are included.
This framework can be used as a toolkit when making decisions about learning materials and content. It may provide guidance on deciding when to use digital resources, and when physical resources (e.g. pen and paper) may be more appropriate. It won’t solve the issues of internet connectivity and broken tablets, but it paves the way for a more meaningful and engaging experience for your learners in using digital materials.
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If you enjoyed this article, why not read Raquel Ribeiro’s article on how teachers can promote the productive usage of mobile devices in class.