The future of teaching – is it only online teaching? – An ELTChat Summary (22/11/2012)

A PLN for ELT Professionals

The future of teaching – is it only online teaching? – An ELTChat Summary (22/11/2012)

This summary was written by @wiktor_k and has been reposted here from his blog with his permission.


Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Photo Credit: One Laptop per Child via Compfight


This post is a summary of another fascinating discussion on #ELTChat. If you’re new to this, head over to the website to learn more. The community is really supportive and I believe that every language learner would benefit from chatting to its members once in a while. In the meantime – read the summary below to see where, according to some bright language teachers, the future of education is headed!


1. Ummm…no.


For a brief moment, it seemed that the discussion would be really brief here! Most ELTChatters agreed: online teaching will not be the only mode of delivering knowledge, at least not in language learning. Some quotes to illustrate this sentiment:

– “Don’t believe that classroom teaching will give way to only online.” (@MarjorieRosenbe)

– “I agree. People like being in face to face groups, it’s a social thing.” (@theteacherjames)

– “The social face-to-face aspect is a great motivator for many ESOL learners.” (cgoodey)

– “I think there’s a hell of lot of progress to be made in the classroom before we even consider the future is only online.” (@stephenburrows)

– “Color me skeptical. I remember when television was going to replace classroom teachers.” (@12mandown)

There were a lot of similar voices and comments made throughout the debate (you can view the entire transcript here). Foreign language learning seems to be too dependent on the face-to-face aspect to afford moving into the digital domain entirely.


2. But, ummm…yes.


That, of course, doesn’t mean that the whole online thing is wasted completely on language teachers and learners. ELTChatters were quick to list the good and useful aspects of it:

– “Online opens a great window of opportunity – which can be in ADDITION to f-2-f” (@Marisa_C)

– “Shouldn’t underestimate what technology can do. It’s hard to imagine what it’ll be like in 30 years, & I’ll still be working then!” (@theteacherjames)

– “I can’t wait for technology to take over those things I wish I didn’t have to spend time doing” (@KerrCarolyn)

– “There are lots of possibilities online for extra practice and review but as a compliment to f2f” (@edwinamwilliams)

– “People get hung up on online, f2f, blended [learning] etc. Access to information and phones mean teaching roles will change come what may” (@EnglishOutThere)

So, our feelings so far: Online teaching will not dominate foreign language education completely – but it has a lot to offer.


3. Online teaching in languages – where it shines…and falls short


The discussion developed into several strands after that – and it took a keen Twitter user to follow the exchange! One thread worth exploring involved the benefits and shortcomings of online teaching, with several choice contributions:

– “I think quieter, more reflective work suits online more. Less social pressure to ‘interact’” (@theteacherjames)

– “Yes – and students being able to see their own corrections instantly. No loss of face. No feeling of judgment.” (@KerrCarolyn)

– “Personally, I’m more excited by how much more we know about learning & teaching now, than by new tech. This is the big change for me” (@Wiktor_K)

– “A good point – the reflections about tech have regenerated interest in pedagogy” (@Marisa_C)

– “Learning courses for professional development are very helpful as well as cutting down on travel.” (@MarjorieRosenbe)




– “[Moving online is] impossible in Greece, as most schools still don’t have interactive boards and internet connections” (@shaznosel)

– “Most students don’t know what an app is…nor the parents – YouTube is seen as upmarket” (@shaznosel)

– “How much learner autonomy technique [about online study?] is taught?” (@EnglishOutThere)

– “Most progress is possible by tech, but not all tech equals more progress. Sometimes, they’re methodological blind alleys” (@Wiktor_K)


4. So it’s not the medium, it’s ______________?


This provocative question was asked by @Marisa_C but technical difficulties prevented it from appearing until the very end of the chat. One for you to ponder, definitely! If you want to take part in this or other discussions, visit the #ELTChat website and get involved. The language you’re learning will thank you for it.


5. Useful links / resources


– “CPD for teachers” – lots of useful ideas for professional development of language teachers.

– EnglishClub – a place for your own English-learning website!

– The Future of Learning, Networked Society [VIDEO] – optimistic? Biased? You decide.