Candidate: Ian Keith Sinnott
Degree: E900‐Doctor Of Philosophy
CRICOS code: 006244J
Campus: Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus
Finish Date: 25/032016
Enrolment Category:Off‐Campus / Full‐Time
Associate Supervisor(s): Dr. Rod Nielsen and Dr Alex Kostogriz
Thesis Title: Evaluating the impact of Instruction of English through the use of the iPad on the English Foundations Studies Program at Abu Dhabi Men’s College [ADMC], Higher Colleges of Technology, United Arab Emirates.
Colloquia: First year confirmation
Ethics: This project will require ethics clearance
Context of the Research
1.1 Background of the study
Technology has augmented learning in the classroom setup in terms of coming up with innovative teaching tools and strategies that have subsequently dealt with emerging challenges in the profession. As such, there exists an extensive body of research on the impacts of traditional computers, laptops and notebooks on the learning experience . There’s however limited information on impact and value of iPads on learning because the technology is pretty new and is still in its developmental stage. Despite this fact, the introduction of iPads into the teaching profession has not only generated a lot of talk in social circles but also stirred intellectual curiosity. This research paper shall seek to establish the efficacy of the use of Ipads as tools to teach Emirati students English.
1.1.1 Significance of the study
Many studies are interested in the benefits of iPads in addition to the use of the tablet devices in the classroom set up. At a time when the United Arab Emirates is enforcing the use of English for instruction at all levels of education, an examination into the current methods of instruction is required. As early as 2007, there were plans to introduce the instruction of Math and Science in English in all public schools in the United Arab Emirates. At the Higher College of Technology, English is used in the instruction of bachelor’s degrees. It is therefore important to understand the impact of introducing the iPad for instructing the subject. The aims of this study are to study the impact of the iPad in the instruction of English, how the iPad has enhanced interaction between the teachers and the students and how the use of the iPad has changed the perception of students towards learning.
The study shall be conducted at Abu Dhabi Men’s College where a group of students who have been using iPads and teachers who have been instructing English using the iPad on the foundations program will be interviewed.
1.1.2 Theoretical perspectives
A conceptual framework or a theoretical perspective is a set of ideas that explains how a given phenomenon works and how it is related to different parts. The theoretical framework provides a foundation for understanding the correlation or the interconnected ideas, events or components of ideas. The theoretical perspectives that will be applied in this study are based on instructional design and the learning experience. For this study, I will be using the social constructivism theoretical perspective.
Constructivism is a theory that has its basis on observation and scientific study with regard to how people learn. This theory observes that people create their own knowledge and understanding of the world by experiencing things and contemplating on those experiences (Beck, and Kosnik, 2006; Derry, 1999). Whenever people encounter something that is new, they have to merge it with their previous ideas and experience, by either changing what they believe, or discarding the newly acquired information as irrelevant (Beck, and Kosnik, 2006). In any event, human beings are dynamic creators of their own knowledge and to do this, they must explore, ask questions, and assess what they know. Social constructivism focuses on the significance of culture and context in comprehending the things that take place in society and constructing knowledge based on the understanding (McMahon, 1997).
The social constructivism perspective is built on certain assumptions about knowledge, reality, and learning. Social constructivists believe that it is through the human activity that reality is created and that individuals in a society conceive the properties of the world as a group (Holstein, and Miller, 2007). The theory holds that reality does not exist before its social invention and it cannot be discovered. According to social constructivism, knowledge is a human product, which is culturally and socially constructed (Ernest, 1999; Prawatt&Floden, 1994). People construct meaning through their contact with each other as well as their interaction with the environment around them. On the other hand, social constructivists perceive learning as a social process, which neither takes place only in an individual nor is it an inactive improvement of behaviors, which are influenced by external forces (Parker, 1998). Meaningful learning occurs when individuals are engaged in social activities.
The constructivist point of view of learning could point to a number of varying teaching practices but in the most typical sense, it often implies encouraging students to employ active techniques in creating more knowledge and then reflecting on and speaking about what they are working on and how their comprehension is changing (Lock, and Strong, 2010). The teacher ensures that he or she comprehends the pre-existing conceptions of students and pilots the activity to address these conceptions before building on them to help the students to acquire understanding of a concept (Lock, and Strong, 2010). This provides them with tools that keep expanding to enable them to keep learning. In a constructivist class, the focus seems to shift to the students from the teacher. The classroom is not a place where the teacher is the most active while students are passive recipients of knowledge from the teacher. This is where students are encouraged to be active participants in their own learning process (Lock, and Strong, 2010). In addition, both the student and the teacher in a constructivist classroom think of knowledge as a dynamic perception of the world and the capacity to stretch and explore that point of view as opposed to perceiving knowledge as static factoids, which should be memorized.
Based on the assumptions of this theoretical perspective, educational research can be carried out to further comprehend how the learning experience for students of Abu Dhabi Men’s College is affected by iPads. The theoretical framework of learning using iPad is important for understanding the subject matter as well as acting as a tool in promoting dynamic ways of perceiving knowledge and an active way of learning in the classroom using the iPads. This will be useful in helping the students to understand that they need to be active in the learning process as opposed to sitting passively in class while the teachers actively transfer knowledge to them.
1.2 Statement of the problem and context of the researchAbu Dhabi Men’s College is located in the United Arab Emirates and its students are mostly native Arab speakers. The college is one of the Campuses of the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) that was established in 1988. The college has 17 campuses throughout the United Arab Emirates with separate colleges for female and male students. HCT offers a number of programs in Business, Applied Communications, Engineering Technology, Computer & Information Science, Education, and Health Sciences. The mission of the Higher Colleges of Technology is to deliver the professional and technical and professional programs of the utmost quality to the students, in the context of earnest respect for varied values and beliefs. The HCT has official alliances with numerous international tertiary training and education institutions, and corporate joint venture with local and multinational organizations. In the colleges, all courses are delivered using English with HCT offering a broad range of Bachelor and Master’s Degrees. The students are at times required to complete a Foundations Year before entering their selected program major.
In the United Arab Emirates, learning the English language is essential as it is a tool of study in English-medium Universities and it helps students to communicate with foreign staff members in higher institutions of learning (Fields, 2011). The use of English has particularly become important to the citizens of the UAE as they seek to communicate with the rest of the world, as the world becomes one global village. This is especially important because of globalization and economic development with a possibility of students working in an international scene, while some may get scholarships in other countries in the world demanding for a medium of communication (Kirkpatrick, and Sussex, 2012).
The Foundation Studies program is designed to equip students with English reading, listening, speaking, and writing skills, and arithmetic skills prior to commencement of their bachelor’s program at Abu Dhabi Men’s College. The English Foundations program comprises four levels, with the level at which a student commences his course depending on the entry-level scores. A student could spend three to four semesters at the entry level if the entry score is low or one or two semesters if the entry score is high. The student needs to excel in his final level four exams or attain an overall score of band 5-6 in the IELTS in order to meet the requirements for admission to a degree program. In today’s globalized education, many Arab countries have had to incorporate institutional policies, which require the use of English in teaching of courses at the post-secondary levels (Ahmed, 2011).
In the Emirates, the use of English as a medium of instruction at the post-elementary levels of education has demanded that students learn the language before they join the university. The learners need the language for communication hence the focus should be on meaning (O’brien, 2011). Currently, in the Arab schools and universities, the use of descriptive grammar is common thereby making it difficult to solve the challenges, which include intrinsic and extrinsic, that learners face in learning the language. An EFL pedagogy that focuses on including a large of elements of transfer from Arabic may help the learners to acquire both the English function and form (O’brien, 2011).
Before September 2012, students and teachers used books to carry out English instruction but this changed in September 2012 when the college formally introduced the iPad initiative making the iPad the main educational tool for English instruction at the college. Three institutions of higher learning, namely Zayed University, the Higher Colleges of Technology, and UAE University have introduced the use of iPads in the teaching and learning of the English language. This is in the belief that the use of iPads will help the large number of students who join university with inadequate English to take degree courses taught in the language (Swan, 24 September 2012). They maintain that teaching using textbooks does not help in maintaining the interest of students, making the use of technology a better option.
Now, I do not have a writing book for my writing course [prior to the introduction of the iPad, level three teachers on the English Foundations Program used the textbook 2 Great Paragraphs Great Writing 2 for their writing course]. Today, Post-September 2012, teachers develop their writing materials, using the iPad, to use in class. Oxford University Press along with HeinleCengage Publishing are currently looking into developing and uploading a writing textbook on to the iPad that is interactive for teaching purposes for use in the classroom commencing in the new academic year of September 2013. For reading, the book in use was and still is Reading Explorer I. Currently the book has been uploaded on to the iPad, which is used in the instruction of English in level 3 on the Foundations Program. Unlike a printed book, each teacher has his or her own Y drive on the iPad, a SharePoint for English teachers to upload all their English lesson plans and materials, which allow him or her to share content used during the lecture with the students. In order to gain access to the material that a teacher has uploaded, the students use an application that is known as Pages. The students give the answers to the questions during the lectures by writing them on Pages [the application Pages is equivalent to word document used on a conventional computer]. Furthermore, reading tests are done on a weekly basis on the iPad. During the tests, the students read material that is on paper but then provide their answers using an application known as Blackboard Windows Vista on their iPads. The benefit of this mode of testing is that the teacher does not have to mark scripts and the students receive their results almost immediately.
1.2.1 Education in the United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates has seen great changes in the education sector, which has led to a tremendous growth of the sector. The Kuwait Mission established the first school in the United Arab Emirates in 1953 (Daleure, 2011). With the support and personnel from a number of countries, the missionary opened other schools soon after (Daleure, 2011). When the country started producing oil in 1962, the country had around 20 schools with a population of less than 4,000 students who were largely male (United Arab Emirates National Qualification Authority, 2013). During this period, however, there were no post-secondary schools. On attaining independence from Britain, in 1971, the United Arab Emirates government initiated the setting up of a standard public education system (Farah & Ridge, 2009 as cited by Daleure 2011). In addition, the government started to prioritize education achievement for all. By this period, there were less than 28,000 students in the whole country with education being mainly restricted to bigger cities (United Arab Emirates National Qualification Authority, 2013).
According to the United Arab Emirates National Qualification Authority (2013), in a bid to make education universal, the government used the United Arab Emirates constitution and the 1972 Federal Law No.11 to make education at the primary stage compulsory and free throughout all the stages for United Arab Emirates Nationals. By 1985, the Ministry of Education in the United Arab Emirates brought into full use the newly established standard National Curriculum Project across the United Arab Emirates (Farah & Ridge, 2009 as cited by Daleure 2011).
In a bid to broaden the compulsory attendance, the government raised the age to 18 years, and this extension of educational opportunities brought into being large construction programs for higher education and the K-12 system. This saw the opening of higher education institutions including the United Arab Emirate University and the Higher Colleges of Technology. The Abu Dhabi Education Council, the Ministry of Education, the Knowledge and Human Development, and the different education in the emirates have the responsibility of overseeing the implementation of quality standards and reform initiatives of the government (United Arab Emirates National Qualifications Authority, 2013).
The United Arab Emirates Ministry of Education has taken up “Education 2020,” a cycle of five-year strategies whose objective is to initiate education techniques, concentrate on the self-learning capacities of students, and enhance innovative skills in learning institutions (Library of Congress Federal Research Division, 2007). As a result, the government introduced an integrated science and an enhanced curriculum for mathematics at the first grade level in all government schools in the academic year 2003-4 as part of this program (Library of Congress Federal Research Division, 2007). The United Arab Emirates has sought to execute and monitor high excellence in education standards using new initiatives, programs, and policies. However, the educational advancement throughout the Middle East has suffered a great deal because of the inadequate concentration on the English language as well as insufficient provision of technology. The Emirates launched campaigns to enhance each of these areas by earmarking $2 billion in 2009 and increasing the training of teachers (Arabian Business, 2008). The United Arab Emirates expects to train about 10,000 teachers for public schools within five years through the Teachers of the 21st Century program and a share of two hundred million dirham budget (AMEinfo.com, 24 January 2008).
The United Arab Emirates government further believes that the poor understanding of the English language is one of the chief causes of employment challenges for United Arab Emirates nationals. To curb this problem, the Education Council of Abu Dhabi with Zayed University developed a basic school pilot plan, which it expects to extend to the rest of the schools in the United Arab Emirates whose objective is to promote the English language skills for students. The prime minister, in 2006, instructed the minister for education to initiate the improvement of the quality of education through the provision of computer laboratories, modern facilities, and permanent classrooms among others. In 2007, the prime minister called on the ministers of education and higher education to work towards finding creative and wide-ranging solutions to the United Arab Emirates’ weak education system, obsolete teaching methods, and outdated curriculum (Library of Congress Federal Research Division, 2007). In Early 2008, the United Arab Emirates’ Ministry of Education initiated a Mentoring schemewhich involved Western principals in 50 public schools throughout the United Arab Emirates in a bid to make instructional strategies current and execute Western strategies of learning. The instructors participating in this program stress on the importance of moving away from the conventional methods of rote learning and passive memorization to adopting active participation of students. Recently, education in the United Arab Emirates has attained significant growth in enrollment, quantitative measures, and other indicators even amongst female students expanding dramatically (Rugh, 2002).
1.2.2 How has language learning and teaching in the UAE responded to the idea of English as a global language?
The English language has been increasingly expanding its role in a progressively globalized world (Kennetz, Hoven, and Parkman, 2011). The language has seen a rapid expansion of use beyond the areas where English has been used as a first language to where it now is being used as a second language. The place of the English language is a prominent one with the acquisition of the English language being viewed as a popular end because it is viewed as the language of broader international interaction as well as of technology and business (Rababah, 2003, as cited in Kennetz, Hoven, and Parkman, 2011). Given that the modern United Arab Emirates society is largely urban, there is increasing exposure to the English language for use in real life situations for communicative purposes. Additionally, in the United Arab Emirates, there is a significant English language presence in the regional and local press and electronic media.
The English language is taking more prominence in communication, and it is taking more territory from the local language in the United Arab Emirates due to the need to communicate effectively with the growing population of expatriate workers. This has resulted in the teaching of the language in the United Arab Emirates. The globalized education in a number of Arabic-speaking countries has resulted in the incorporation of institutional policies, which require courses to be taught in English while Arabic has been relegated to secondary status with regard to classroom instructions. The spread of the language is even clearer in higher education in the United Arab Emirates. In Higher institutions of learning, English is used as a medium of teaching with no laws implemented to promote the use of Arabic in the Emirates’ higher institutions of learning. This is despite the calls to Arabicization and Arabization (embracing, preserving, reviving and incorporation of Arabic language and culture in a bid to prevent the erosion of the said culture or replacement with the western culture-in broader historical terms influencing the world to incorporate the Arabic language/culture/identity) (Zughoul, 2003). The public universities in the United Arab Emirates are moving rapidly into a medium of instruction that is completely English with Arabic receiving a secondary status (Zughoul, 2002).
Additionally, the knowledge of English remains a requirement for better employment particularly in the private sector (Ahmed, 2011). Furthermore, there is hardly any leading government official that does not know the English language. Foreign nationals, particularly from English speaking countries, living in the Emirates live in the country without feeling any necessity to learn Arabic because of increasing knowledge of the English language by the citizens. This has prompted more and more United Arab Emirates citizens to learn the English language as a medium of communication in businesses and as a prerequisite for a good job.
Another effect that the globalization of English language has had on teaching and learning has to do with the desire of the users of the language to meet their sociolinguistic needs of variation in oral communicative uses. In as much as the learning materials are being designed to reflect the local context (in this case the Arabic world) globalization and sociolinguistic theory requires that language, and especially the oral aspect, be as varied as possible so as to be used in any social context. This has seen the language transformed in a number of significant ways by second language users (Kennetz, Hoven, and Parkman, 2011). An interest in the teaching of English with a point of view of its up-and-coming global role in trade, business and media, business and trade has brought about numerous suggestions for both curriculum developers and EFL teachers. For instance, there is the use of English textbook series that have Middle East editions and the integration of several varieties of English (Hartmann & Gill, 2005; Tanka & Baker, 2007 as cited by Kennetz, Hoven, and Parkman, 2011).
Given the multicultural identities of many teachers in the United Arab Emirates institutions of higher learning, there is a general acceptance of English as serving as a global language (Dahan, 2007 as cited by Kennetz, Hoven, and Parkman, 2011). For example, the swift growth of education has led to a massive influx of expatriate teachers, many from English speaking countries (Clarke, 2006 as cited by Kennetz, Hoven, and Parkman, 2011).
1.2.3 Do the majority of UAE students really learn English to communicate, or to pass hurdles?
The issues of learners of English in the Arabic countries are well documented with the focus being on areas such as syntactic processing, learner attitude and motivation, and cultural schemata. Given that the syntactic processing of one language influences the processing of another (either help or interfere), studies have shown that the syntactic structure of Arabic interferes with the activation of the syntactic structure English in English learners. The leaner’s attitudes and motivation have been found to facilitate or hamper English learning. Learners motivated by purpose (such as getting better jobs and being able to participate international trade) and with a positive attitude tend to learn faster and with ease as compared to their counterparts motivated by peer influence and with a negative attitude. Essentially, the right motivation and attitude pushes the learner to put in more effort. In general, intrinsically motivated learners have a positive attitude and tend to study regularly and productively to perfect their language skills. Amongst second language learners, positive attitude towards self, the target language group and the native language group have been found to enhance learning ability and proficiency. Therefore, Arabs with a positive attitude towards English language and English speakers tend to learn the language more easily than their counterparts (Alsheikh and Elhoweris ,2011). Researchers have established that cultural schemata affect reading comprehension mainly because the reader brings meaning to the text and this is largely influenced by the cultural context (Andersson&Barnitz, 2004; center for the study of reading, 2007; Yang, 2008). As such, the reading and interpretation of English learners in the Arabic countries is influenced by their context. Thus, there is need to locally develop the learning curriculum that would incorporate the cultural schemata to enhance learning(Fields, 2011).
For students to start a university course in the United Arab Emirates, they must attain an overall Band of 6 in IELTS English exams (Fields, 2011). Even though a few of the students are able to achieve this, a majority of students are not able to with the average band score for the United Arab Emirates being 5.26 in 2008 (IELTS Test-taker Performance, 2008 as cited by Fields, 2011). According to Fields (2011), motivation and learner strategies are the most essential personal differences that affect the success in the learning of a language. Emirati students are often attached to their own cultural identity essentially wanting to remain in their comfort zone. As a result, they do not want to abandon this to become international citizens and study abroad or work in foreign countries (Fields, 2011). This implies that the students will only learn the English language to pass exams and gain an admission to the universities, to please their parents and those around them, and to secure employment given that most companies emphasize the need to pass English exams before securing a job.
A study by Alabbad and Gitsaki (2011) to assess students’ attitudes towards the learning of English showed that students learnt English to pass exams as opposed to communicate. In the United Arab Emirates, learning mainly involves a teacher-centred approach and involves a limited use of teaching aids in the classroom environment (Alsheikh and Elhoweris, 2011). A passive learning approach is a hindrance in the learning of English for communication as it makes students lose interest in learning the language. However, the influx of expatriate teachers, who tend to use a more active learner-centred approach, creates an opposite scenario and hence a pedagogical conflict because these teachers are up against an already entrenched passive system. An adoption of a more learner-centred approach integrating modern technologies could help improve the situation.
A study by Alsheikh and Elhoweris (2011) on high school students [the data were collected from 513 students] in the United Arab Emirates found that English learning environments are typified by the conventional teaching methods including the audio-lingual approach and the grammar-translation method where students are regarded as mere recipients of the information that Arab English teachers provide. In such a case, the greatest motivation to learn is passing an examination (Chang, 2002, as cited by Alsheikh and Elhoweris, 2011). Given that the major focus of the traditional teaching methods is on language forms as opposed to their uses in real life communication, it becomes difficult for students to acquire speaking skills and listening abilities. These skills are essential for effective communication in the English language or any other target language.
The current teaching method that a number of institutions in the United Arab Emirates use fail to motivate the students in the learning of the English language, making the students view English as uninteresting (Alsheikh and Elhoweris, 2011). The traditional teaching method for the most part focuses on grammar while giving very little attention to the rest of the language skills. The teaching method gives minimal attention to the oral communication skills that are an essential part of communicating in a target language. Although students can answer and pass questions regarding grammar and other drill and practice activities, they cannot express themselves using English (Alsheikh and Elhoweris, 2011). Students often take notes and usually duplicate other student’s notes, which provide a summary of the grammar rules learnt in the lesson in a manner that enables them to memorize them and duplicate them in their final exams.
1.2.4 Are there different language learning outcomes depending on gender?
There is a general agreement among researchers and educators that motivation plays an essential role in learning because it activates behavior (Guthrie and Wigfield, 2000). There is a correlation between motivation and gender and by extension the ability to learn. As such, the language learning outcomes are mainly influenced by gender because of the influence of gender on motivation. Before delving into the impact of gender on language learning outcomes, it is vital to understand the correlation between motivation and language learning.
Motivation is essential for learning a foreign language since motivation has been shown to affect all aspects of language including language proficiency, reading strategies, and contact with speakers of a target language (Kissau, 2006; Csizér&Dörnyei, 2005). Wigfield (2004) points out that reading motivation comprises the self-efficacy, intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, and valuing of reading. Intrinsic motivation denotes the inherent desire to instigate, uphold, and direct reading activity for sake of personal interest while extrinsic motivation denotes upholding and directing reading activity for a grade or a reward. On the other hand, self-efficacy refers to a person’s evaluation of his or her abilities at various activities and his or her sense of abilities of accomplishments. Lastly, valuing of reading refers to a person’s purpose or incentive for doing an activity.
Intrinsic motivation and Extrinsic motivation have a significant correlation with English achievement scores because results of numerous empirical studies indicate that there is a positive relationship between students’ motivation and academic achievement (e.g., Guthrie and Wigfield, 2000; Guthrie, et al., 2007). Alsheikh and Elhoweris (2011) carried out a study with one of the aspects under investigation on how gender influenced extrinsic motivation with regard to foreign language. The study, which involved students from the United Arab Emirates, indicated that there was a significant difference in extrinsic motivation between male and female students. The results showed that for extrinsic motivation, female students had higher scores as compared to their male counterparts. Extrinsic motivation in this study was defined as the value of the task in terms of its future goal so that an extrinsically motivated student engaged in activities and actions is driven by the desire to achieve an ultimate goal in the future i.e. to earn a reward or to avoid a punishment. To measure extrinsic motivation interview questions with selected items was developed; some of the items include “I read a lot of materials to improve my English competency”, “learning to read in English will help me when I go to college”, “Reading English will help me when I go college”, “I would like to go to a college that uses English as a medium of instructions”, “Learning to read in English will help me connect to the world”. The interview questions were derived from extensive literature review of literature on reading motivation of foreign language learning. The participants rated the 9-items on a 4-point likert-scale (strongly agree, agree, disagree and strongly disagree) which was then used to reach the score (Alsheikh and Elhoweris, 2011).
A notable finding was that it is only in extrinsic motivation that gender makes a difference with female students in the United Arab Emirates viewing the learning of English as important in helping them pursue higher education and secure a job. This may not be surprising because, in a male dominant society, a better educational performance for girls is necessary for them to have higher chances in getting a desirable job unlike the males who can easily obtain a job. In addition, the value of English language in the United Arab Emirates is apparent because numerous universities in the Emirates are presently using English as the medium of instruction.
Another study by Khamis, et al., (2008) found that female middle and high school students from the United Arab Emirates had a higher motivation to learn than their male counterparts did. In addition, the study findings by Alsheikh and Elhoweris (2011) corroborate the results of numerous studies in the area of foreign language learning motivation that indicated that female students have more positive attitudes and greater motivation towards learning a foreign language as compared to the male students (Mori &Gobel, 2006; Jones & Jones, 2001). While motivation is not a direct ticket to learning English, motivated students create exposure to the language themselves by their willingness to study more outside the classroom and thus creating conditions for possible successful learning. As such, female English learners stand a better chance to learn the English language.
The research will address the following questions:
- What benefits have the students accrued as a result of using ipads as learning tool during English lessons at Abu Dhabi Men’s College [ADMC]?
- What are limitations have the students experienced in using ipads as a learning tool during the English lessons?
- What are the benefits that the teachers have experienced as a result of using ipads as a teaching tool during English lessons?
- What are the limitations that the teachers have experienced as a result of using ipads during the English lessons?
- How has the use of the iPad helped English teachers at Abu Dhabi Men’s College in the teaching of the English language?
Question 3: How has the ipad improved the collaboration between the students and the teachers during English lessons at Abu Dhabi men’s college?
2.1 General issues about technology and computer mediated language-learning
“Technology has made it easier for many of us to communicate with others instantly and over a distance, with the new channels of communication offering us new ways of combining different modes such as text, audio and graphic within one medium – the personal computer (PC)” (Hampel& Hauck, 2006:3).
Access to engaging, authentic and comprehensible learning materials are a prerequisite to any learning process at work, in school or in an informal setting.. In theory, every learner should have easy and quick access to learning materials. The reality is that most language learners whether in school or in self-study programs have limited access and exposure to learning materials. The use of technology however serves to mitigate some of these challenges related to the access and exposure to language learning materials. Information and communication technology (ICT) based strategies and tools are used by educators to provide better access and exposure of language learners to relevant learning materials. This can be conducted through various means.
Southeast Initiatives Regional Technology in Education Consortium (2005:5) maintain that “the computer is an excellent resource for giving students the chance to practice English skills without worrying about the response of other classmates or even the teacher.” Butler-Pascoe (1997) cited in Southeast Initiatives Regional Technology in Education Consortium (2005:5) asserts that, “the untiring, non-judgmental nature of the computer makes it an ideal tool to help second language learners feel sufficiently secure to make and correct their own errors without embarrassment or anxiety.”
The utilization of multimedia technology, ICT related tools and strategies enhance efficiency as far access and exposure to linguistic learning materials is concerned. Print based linguistic learning materials are limited and less efficient as compared to multimedia tools. Multimedia technologies not only provide learners with a wide array of devices, tools as well as strategies for access but they also create stronger memory links as compared to print based linguistic learning materials. Students using multimedia based technologies will complete assigned tasks and units faster than students who use print based linguistic materials.
Yang & Chen (2007: 861) assert that through technology “students can learn listening, speaking, reading and writing English integratively via real worlds situations. Students can also broaden their international perspectives, learn diverse knowledge forms, and appreciate and accept different cultures.” Furthermore they (ibid: 862-863) maintain that “previous research indicates that computer-mediated language learning can facilitate communication, reduce anxiety, encourage oral discussion, develop the writing/thinking connection, nurture social or cooperative learning, promote egalitarian class structures, enhance student motivation, facilitate cross-cultural awareness, and improve writing skills. In light of these positive effects, an increasing number of ESL/EFL teachers have embraced multimedia technology. For example, various studies have examined the use of computer-mediated communication via e-mail or networking, video-conferencing, Web-based projects and pen pal activity, while some studies have focused on specific elements of language skills (namely, reading, listening, speaking, and writing), or cultural awareness, and some have reported student or instructor perceptions of technology-enhanced language learning.”
The employment of videos, the internet, and ICT based linguistic materials enhance legitimacy of material being conveyed. Video based linguistic materials are instrumental in bringing both authentic and context-rich materials to the language learner. The learners can access current literature and news about a specific language of their interest. This enables the learners to update their knowledge bank and always stay abreast with the dynamics and trend with regards to their target audience. The learners also have a unique opportunity to interact with remote audiences via the internet and other ICT based communication and teleconferencing strategies. This enhances equality as far as participation in linguistic classes is concerned. Educational technology is taking learning and teaching beyond the print-based tradition. “The Internet is constructing global bridges for students to communicate, by changing the way that information is absorbed, processed, and used. Technology is influencing how people read, write, listen, and communicate.”(Holum, 2001).
Digital based technologies enhance comprehensibility. This is achieved through allowing the learner to control the linguistic digital materials as well as via multimedia annotations. Language learners need to understand the linguistic materials they have access to. However, this does not negate the significance of unfamiliar learning materials that pose difficulties to the learner in the learning materials. Digital based linguistic materials allow the learners to progress from the beginner stage to the professional ones with little help from the instructor. Comprehensibility is also advanced through multimedia annotations such as computer grammar and spell checkers that provide instant feedback on written input; speech recognition technology that provides automatic feedback with regards to pronunciations; and finally computer based programs can be used to archive the students’ responses during a linguistic lesson for future analysis by the instructor.
The iPad’s size and weight make it an ideal linguistic learning tool for the following reasons: The iPad can access the internet through Wi-Fi and 3G networks. This enables the learners to gain access to enormous amounts of information via the iPad M-Learning applications. The M-Learning applications comprise of over 150,000 free or relatively priced applications that linguistic learners can make use of in learning their target languages. These applications are not only increasing on a daily basis but are also being updated frequently. The iPad also enables the learner to combine various learning materials and carry them around in portable format. These learning materials include books, encyclopedias, dictionaries and other multimedia linguistic materials. M-Learning also enables learners to interact with their teachers and fellow learners wherever and whenever they are. This provides the learners with the opportunity to share and discuss what they have learnt with their teachers as well as their peers. Finally, the iPad provides the learner with the opportunity for personal growth due to the inbuilt technologies that enhance comprehension.
2.1.1Integration of technology in education
“Technology can be a wonderful source of comprehensible input and provides students with different learning styles with additional demonstrations or concrete examples of concepts being taught in the classroom. Multimedia CDs, digital tutorials, and the Web provide a near endless source of sound, pictures, video, animation, and multimedia that can help situate learning within a meaningful context” (Southeast Initiatives Regional Technology in Education Consortium 2005).
The world is continuously changing and the ways in which we act at work, home, and school are also consistently changing. The rapidity with which technology has advanced plays a critical role in these changes. Computers are definitely shaping our lives, and can enhance the learning process in schools in a number of ways. With the growing popularity of technology, it is indispensable for administrators to back and encourage computer technology in the education systems.
It is not possible to avoid the presence of technologies in schools since they are forcing educators to rethink the very nature of how and what they teach. For instance, the Office of Technology Assessment in the United States, in 1998, reported that there were about 5.8 million computers in schools throughout the United States, which translates to about one computer for every nine students (Provenzo, Brett, and McCloskey, 1999).
In order to assist teachers to use technology effectively to enhance the quality of instruction, there has to be classroom support for them. An effective technology staff development comprises a teacher-awareness of appropriate technology applications, availability of peer supporters and teacher mentors, a technology plan developed by and for teachers, a social network comprising of other teachers using technology, sufficient time and augmented opportunity for staff development (Cradler & Cradler, 1995). By allowing teachers an opportunity to engage fully in a special interest project, the students gain from a considerately planned and attractive lesson. In addition, having a person to coordinate technology, who can function as a mentor of technology applications and integration of instruction provides a teacher with a sense of security and enables the students and the teacher to use technology effectively for learning and teaching purposes (Strudler, 1995). If school administrators can offer classroom support, and the use of quality technology in teaching and learning, enhanced instruction will no doubt increase.
Apart from providing support, teachers have to buy into the use of technology in improving student achievement. According to research, teachers who work together with other teachers, attend professional conferences and make presentations at these conferences exhibit excellent use of computers and interactive learning and teaching approcahes (Becker & Riel, 2000). Teachers should have an opportunity to learn effectively and practice using innovative technologies. The school administrators should give teachers time and funds to develop professionally, which is essential in enhancing their instructing capacity. This will additionally allow teachers to embrace the use of technology as a learning and teaching tool (Becker & Riel, 2000).
Throughout the world, institutions are integrating technology in the learning process. Of all the shifts presently happening in the atmosphere of meaning-design, one of the most noteworthy challenges to the previous literacy teaching is the growing multimodality of meaning (Cope and Kalantzis, 2009). Conventionally, teaching of literacy confined itself to the forms of written language but the new media mix methodologies are more impressive than was culturally the custom and even technically achievable in the earlier modernity, where the book and the printed page dominated (Cope and Kalantzis, 2009). Recently, the United Arab Emirates has seen a shift from the use of books in learning and teaching to the use of technological devices such as laptops and other computers.
Numerous universities are rolling out the use of laptops to enhance the potential learning collaboration of students. Both private and federally supported campuses in the United Arab Emirates have sought to initiate the use of iPads or tablets to move to a paperless learning environment (Riviez, Holmes, and Hayak, 2013). So far, the Higher Colleges of Technology have provided more than 21,500 students with access to the use of iPads ((Riviez, Holmes, and Hayak, 2013).
The College of Education at the American University of the Emirates in conjunction with the American University of the Emirates Center for Educational Technology is looking into the possibility of using technology in learning and teaching. The mission of this scheme is to amalgamate pedagogy and technology in order to meet the goals of the American University of the Emirates of improving student performance, linking research to the quality of teaching, and improving faculty excellence (Riviez, Holmes, and Hayak, 2013). Part of the areas that the program is exploring is on how to advance the use of technology in teaching and learning ((Riviez, Holmes, and Hayak, 2013).
In education, technology has the capacity of enhancing teaching and learning. Earle (2002) believes that if technology is correctly designed for teaching and learning, it has the potential of producing positive results, changes in teaching techniques, social interactions, increased student motivation, more effective teaching, and improved student learning. According to Speaker (2004), a number of students feel that their learning is enhanced by integrating technology in the process of learning. As a result, technologies related to education, especially the internet and computer technologies have become inevitably more powerful in the classroom because they change the way of teaching and learning (Ayas, 2006). While technology makes learning more interactive, interesting, and enjoyable, students today enjoy learning by discovering, doing, and interacting.
Another advantage of integrating technology in education is that having technological devices can serve as a tutor. Teachers can only help students in the learning process and computers can help teachers and function as a tutor for the students who are lagging behind. A report entitled “Computer Advantages: Tutoring Individuals” concluded that with computers as tutors, none of the students will lag behind because he or she is missing basics (Bennett, 1999). This is because the computer will repeatedly go over the material until the student masters each lesson sufficiently (Bennett, 1999, p. 3). Normally, teachers do not have much time to go over lessons repeatedly. It is important for the teacher to give all students the chance to learn the lessons adequately; with computers functioning as tutors, this is possible.
Education functions as a window through which the human curiosity and imagination can take flight into the unknown and improve our creativity, and the integration of computer technology in education plays a crucial role in assisting students to realize their full development potential (Bennett, 1999). Provided the role which education plays in preparing the students to get into the world, it appears clear that there has to be a connection between the classroom and the world. To achieve this, computer technologies in education are essential. Unless education focuses on the world in which it exists, education has no relevance for the students.
Technology enables students to have an access to broader sources of information. With the integration of technology in the teaching and learning, the manual and the teacher are not the only sources of information in class (Boyle, 1998). With technology, a number of choices are available to them. Moreover, the integration of technology in the classroom allows teachers to instruct students and to acquaint them more with regard to websites. Additionally, the use of technology in education has had a number of effects on students. According to a number of researches, technology enhances the pleasure and the motivation of learning from some things that they know well (Bennett, 1999). Moreover, technology can exploit the websites, which are available to all. Access to a wide range of sources of information helps the student to achieve their potential for creating and learning. This is a benefit of integrating technology in classrooms.
Aside from the advantages that the integration of technology in classrooms brings to the teaching and learning process, they can also bring about disadvantages. Teachers may find it difficult for them with regard to the integration of technology thereof (Boyle, 1998). Teachers must be strong and have ways to ensure that the students do not employ the technology for some other purposes other than learning and education especially during lessons (Boyle, 1998).
A number of people argue that technology does almost all the work for the students, thereby not giving them the chance to process what they have learned. According to Boyle (1998), information technology may in the real sense be making people “stupid” (p. 618). He further argues that technological tools take more of the thinking out of students. A number of people who grew up during the pre-computer era are worried that the use of technology will take away the emotion out of the classroom. According to Wehrle(1998), the pre-computer age cohort envisage designing computer technologies which still take into consideration the emotional needs of the students. Their major argument against computer technologies in the classroom is that the teachers have to take into consideration the significance of student emotions. They do not like the rapid advancement of computer technology to get in the way of the needs of students for human support, which they get from the teacher-based teaching. The insinuations of integrating technologies in education are the conviction that the computer will unravel a number of the problems, which teachers cannot.
In conclusion, the advantages discussed regarding the use of technology in the classroom outweigh the disadvantages of using it in education. Computer technology is a helpful appendage that is useful in bridging the gap between the technological world in which we live and education. Computer-aided technologies in schools provide students with greater access to information, a jump-start on viable job skills, an enthusiastic motivation to learn, and an improved quality of class work (Boyle, 1998). There is a great conviction that the integration of educational technology and communication is an excellent way of attracting the interest of students. With the numerous kinds of tools, teachers are able to manage what students are doing but they have to keep a regular watch for it will not be useful for the students not to use their technological tools appropriately during lesson hours.
2.2Changes to language concepts affected by technology
The increasing proliferation of communication technologies into the daily lives of students from the elementary levels to the higher levels of education has had the most profound effect on their writing skills and capabilities. Communication technologies have impacted the written language in both formal and informal settings in the following ways. First and foremost, language is a fluid and very dynamic phenomenon. Communication technologies have served as a catalyst to the rate at which language changes and introduced new variations to how languages are written across the globe.The changes that language has undergone in the digital era have been both positive and negative.Shyamlee& Phil (2012:151) assert that “multimedia technology plays a positive role in promoting activities and initiatives of student and teaching effect in English class. Technological innovations have gone hand–in hand with the growth of English and are changing the way in which we communicate. It is fair to assert that the growth of the internet has facilitated the growth of the English language and that this has occurred at a time when computers are no longer the exclusive domains of the dedicated few, but rather available to many.” Furthermore, they claim that (ibid : 152) “multimedia teachings enrich teaching content and make the best of class time and break the “teacher centered” teaching pattern and fundamentally improve class efficiency. Due to large classes it is difficult for the students to have speaking communication. The utilization of multi-media sound lab materializes the individualized and co-operative teaching. The traditional teaching model mainly emphasized on teachers’ instruction, and the information provided is limited due to traditional classes. On the contrary, multimedia technology goes beyond time and space, creates more vivid, visual, authentic environment for English learning, stimulates students’ initiatives and economizes class