From Are You A Teacher Of The Future? has a section called Methodology Debates which I was pleased to find (see my first post on these debates, along with my personal disclaimer, here).

I was happy to see that I did some of the things that EFL teacher Lindsay Clandfield considers as important for teachers of the future, and also found myself agreeing – (again! How is this possible?!) with a comment that institutional restrictions are more of a factor than teacher resistance.

In my experience, if the school is initiating the change – great! It’s not a problem at all. But when a school has one computer with a dial up Internet connection and a few cassette players, using podcasts in class is hard, and I feel like there’s a good chance I’d go to all the trouble for a lesson that takes twenty minutes and then not be able to use it.

I’ve spent time searching for interesting and relevant podcasts of news stories for an in-company class at a bank but we were unable to make it work, even given the modern facilities. Teachers are often pressed for time and it often just doesn’t make sense to invest time which you only have a little of in something that will be a constant struggle to implement. And I think that a lack of technical equipment on a school’s part is often the main factor behind teachers’ techno time warp.

In many countries, I think students don’t always have access to technology either. In my experience in Eastern Europe, students certainly use computers at work, but even email is not so common as a means of communication. A few students might have iPods, but not most. It would be great for students to made a video of themselves for presentation, but who has the equipment? And who watches YouTube? Some may, from time to time, but it’s really just not that common, and giving homework that requires Internet use, or access to iPods or MP3 players would be verging on an unfair burden to a significant portion of students.

Ultimately, I think that changes will come, in this region at least, when students pick up on the advantages of more technology in learning and schools realize that making that technology can give them a competitive edge. Students may pick up on that from teachers who use it enthusiastically, but I don’t think teachers’ preferences alone will bring a change in schools.