Interview with Nicky Hockley - Manchester ONLINE IATEFL 2015

In  this interview Nicky talks about the evolution of technology within IATEFL, the most significant emerging technologies and the role of women in educational technology.

Acoording to Nicky, in terms of technology the biggest changes are based on the fact that technology is becoming more and more mainstreamed, totally different from what happened 10, 15 years ago.
Now people have finally realised that technology is everywhere and relevant to all areas.

(Nicky Hockley is the joint coordinator of the IATEFL  LT SIG )

As for the LT SIG ( Learning technology Special Interest Group )  this year they tried to focus more on unusual technology and emerging technology as well as new areas such as the wearable reality. Google glasses and digital watches, for example are wearable tools and how those might be incorporated in the language classroom, The LT SIG has also reviewed apps and other (new) web tools they have been talking about for a few years now.

Wearable technology seems to be the biggest growth area and there has schools and educators are still find ways how to deal with those new technologies.  Wearable technology is becoming mainstreamed too. Nicky states that google glasses are not going to be developed anymore because they were considered intrusive. So due to privacy issues,   they have been substituted for small watches and / or smartphones.  It’s noticed that students have taken those mobile devices  with them more and more frequently, specially the smartphones 9 the smart watches are not mainstreamed yet but they’ll become soon ) .

The big challenge is how to support students to make good use of those tools in order to learn languages.   It’s a fact that technology is totally relevant in any topic area from  Busniess English and EAP to young learners or whatever we are doing as language teachers.  It is an undeniable reality. Opportunities should be created so that Technology could   be integrated in all those area. It’ doesn’t mean you have to, but technology should be an option. Those teachers should be confident enough whether to do or not to do. This seems to be a lack in our profession as teachers don’t feel confident enough to use new technologies and / or what technology to use with particular groups of students.  Most of them have not received any training on technology either for reasons such as age, interest, etc. or because they don’t have CPD (continuous professional development) structured in their schools. 

Actually it is not about technology but about the teaching as you can teach perfectly well without technology.  Interestingly   when schools decide to implement technology such as IWB (interactive white board), they think it’s enough, that things will be then fantastic and students are going to learn better, which might not be true.

When asked if classes without a classroom (100% online learning) are the future, Nicky claims that schools are not about the spaces where you are and the school has an important social role and for this main reason it will not disappear.  Nicky doesn’t think about schools as institutions but they will need to reconfigure learning.  Flipped and blended learning (part face to face part online) are real good effective models. Nik points out that as for adults who have   a certain level of motivation and developed study skills, it’s easy to think about those models. As for kids, it’s different. We cannot think about this structured learning. If kids are to use this massive technology, there has to be a lot of motivation behind that work.  There’s a movement in some education courses to push primary and secondary school learning more and more online. However, Nik claims that she’s not quite sure how much it’s going to be effective.

As for her talk , Nik will be speaking about mobile learning this year at the IATEFL conference, exactly about the fact that students have use mobile devices more and more frequently each day, and how teachers can integrate this fact within the approach in there schools and in the classroom in terms of pedagogical plan.  In other words, she’ll examine how the school can plan for the teachers to use mobile devices with their students if they want to. If so, it’s necessary to have a kind of structured approach for this to work. It’s not only about asking students to bring their mobile devices or buying a set of tablets for all the students to use in class and simply expect some sort of learning to happen.
The will main focus will be on the challenges we will need to address as teachers and institutions: pedagogical challenges, technology challenges, and management challenges in the classroom. 
Finally she will provide the audience with a ten-step plan to deal with each of the mentioned items at work.

Being a “ big name “ and known  as one of the most recognised women in the world of LT, Nik concludes the interview stating that there are a lot of women working with technology in the classroom doing  a fantastic job . Not to mention that the number of female bloggers who have blogged about technology  has grown for years.  


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