Purpose and Promise: Ed-tech at ICTE

The Institute of Continuing & TESOL Education (ICTE) is passionate about using educational technology to enhance the student experience, supporting teachers in embracing technology in their teaching and the future of learning, including immersive technologies. Our senior teacher in educational technology, Henno Kotzé , reflects on the use of this approach in classrooms:

Teachers and students at ICTE are in the very fortunate position of having access to high-quality educational technology (ed-tech) at their disposal. It’s easy to take for granted the fact that we have relatively fast and consistent wifi and all our classrooms are equipped with state-of-the-art projectors and interactive whiteboards (IWBs). The teachers also have a wide range of software and ed-tech tools at our fingertips to enhance and extend our teaching capabilities, and thus, our students’ learning.

When we talk about ed-tech use at ICTE, it generally falls into two broad categories: in-class use and out-of-class use. In terms of in-class ed-tech use, I think teachers at ICTE are exemplary at integrating ed-tech in authentic ways into the curriculum and for engaging students in their learning. In any one lesson, you might find an ICTE teacher using student-response and quizzing tools, such as Mentimeter or Padlet, deliver engaging content through the interactive presentation and IWB software, like Wordwall, and employ collaborative quizzing activities on Quizlet Live, Gimkit or Quizizz).

ICTE teachers also support their learners’ independent studies through a number of out-of-class ed-tech tools. You will often see ICTE students running around on campus, completing out-of-class video surveys on FlipGrid or participating in a GooseChase digital scavenger hunt in teams.  If they prefer more focussed self-study, all classes have access to a Language Management System (LMS) connected to their classroom materials and coursebooks. This allows them to reinforce their classroom learning in their own time and at their own pace.

For example, if you enrolled in an English for Academic Purposes course at ICTE, you would not only have access to Macmillan English Campus with practice IELTS materials, but might also be in a class group on MyEnglishLab which connects to your IELTS coursebook as well as be able to access IELTSx, ICTE’s award-winning Massive Open Online Course, for free. In short, our students really are spoiled for choice and it is really a matter of what materials and out-of-class study modes they prefer.

At ICTE is that there is a culture of curiosity about new ed-tech and we aren’t afraid to try out new tools and techniques. There is a real spirit of inquiry that runs through our teaching staff and I like to believe that we really support and foster each other in this “digital risk-taking”. One way we do this is through sharing ideas in short ed-tech infused PD sessions we call the Lunchbox Learning Sessions.  The model we follow for this type of PD is we expose teachers to the tech in authentic ways, using class materials, so that they can get a feel for what the student experiences. Then, we follow this up with a training session in which teachers can use the new tech to make their own materials to use in class.

One recent example is using virtual reality (VR) and google Expeditions in class to enhance the learning process. A few teachers trialled this technology in class. Next, we will follow up by sharing what they learned (good and bad!) with others in a short Lunchbox Learning Session.This would hopefully inspire other teachers to try out the new ed-tech in their own classes and we will follow up by a longer training session showing teachers exactly how they can set this up in their class.  

One student said “I think applying advanced technology like Virtual Reality game in teaching helps class become more exciting and creative. It requires not only the knowledge of technology but also a particular preparation of teachers. In addition, I've never experienced a memorable time like that before.”

I believe this type of “learning from your peers” and use of “teacher champions” is a really effective PD model. As one teacher said recently:  “I love the shortish PD sessions; some casuals are on the run on certain days but these are always easy to fit in, and definitely activate the brain (and sense of ed-venture).” So for me, I feel ICTE teachers really embrace the purposeful integration of ed-tech in their teaching and learning practice, with the emphasis on purposeful because we always try to put the teaching before the tech and avoid the trap of just using “tech for tech’s sake”. I think this attitude serves us well in these transformative teaching times we find ourselves in and this really shines through in the high-quality teaching and learning that occurs here at ICTE.

Henno Kotzé 

Last updated:
25 March 2020