By Xiaoyi Zhang
Most of the existing discussions, reports and research on mobile assisted language learning focus on the value and impact of mobile technology on students. However, as the role of the classroom teacher continues to evolve, more attention is being made on the integration of mobile technology in the process of teacher training and professional development.
A report on learning with mobile devices and social media from Speak Up, an education nonprofit organization, finds that 87 percent of parents surveyed said the effective implementation of technology within instruction is important to their child’s success, but only 64 percent said that their child’s school is doing a good job of using technology to enhance student achievement.
Norka Padilla, instructional specialist at Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland, talks about the current status of teacher training.
Since teachers are the ones on the front line of the education revolution, their attitudes towards mobile technology matter a lot in terms of the policy, format and effectiveness of mobile technology used in class. “Many teachers are very comfortable doing what they are doing. They feel it’s very effective, they may have no reason to think that doing anything different will be better,” said Heidi Larson, project director at Education Development Center in Boston.
“Even in districts that have incorporated the use of mobile devices, there are always teachers who jump right on board, and teachers who wait to see how it’s going to go,” Larson said. “And,there are teachers who just, for whatever reason, do not buy into the idea that bringing in technology of any sort is better than the way they’ve been doing for all of these years.”
Here, Vincent Cho, assistant professor of Educational Leadership and Higher Education Department at Boston College, explains the challenges of integrating mobile technology in classroom.
Then what can we do to help raise the awareness of MALL? Heidi Larson, of the Education Development Center in Boston, introduces her strategy to help educators understand the effectiveness of mobile assisted language learning.
“Teachers are learning, too, at this point,” said Rob Villegas, ESL senior instructor at the Boston Language Institute. “We are seeing so many students from Asia, we see in some ways Africa opening up, and lots of different places around the world, are really getting involved in learning languages. That coupled with the advances in technology leave teachers with not always having all the answers, but a lot of questions.”
The integration of mobile technology enables language teachers to access information from all kinds of sources immediately, and to create flexible teaching solutions as well. It is a global trend as the number of mobile devices grows, the time people spend on them increases, the formats and approaches to keeping in touch with new things rely more on social media and mobile apps. For those instructional designers and app builders, mobile assisted language learning also provide them with new opportunities to explore further in education technology.