Five reasons NOT to use (new) technology in the EFL classroom


Last week we argued that technology can have benefits in the EFL classroom. Now we look at the downsides.

In a previous post, I outlined five good reasons to use (new) technology in the EFL classroom. Now, I’m going to give five reasons why it might not be such a good idea. Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all answer, but hopefully these two posts will give you some insight into both sides of the story when it comes to using technological tools.

1.    Experiencing tech problems
Personally, the biggest hurdle is the concern that the company in which I’m teaching can’t give me access to their Wi-Fi, or the room we usually use with the big TV screen won’t be available on the day I plan to play a video clip, or the projector will need a new bulb when I turn it on… It goes, therefore, without saying, that planning a technology-based lesson is not a good idea for a new class or a cover lesson.

2.    Dealing with a paywall
Although there are a number of resources which are free to use, like YouTube or TedTalks, there are also many tools that charge a fee. Prices differ hugely, and some of the more comprehensive tools can be rather expensive once the free trial period ends. You might discover something amazing that transforms your teaching, or you might find the idea doesn’t work so well with your groups in practice – either way, knowing the terms and conditions before you begin to experiment is a must.

3.    Overcoming resistance from students
We all have them, those participants who resist something new, who need to have the benefit for them explained before they’ll get involved, or who liked the old method and see no reason for change. If this sounds familiar, it might be more effort than it’s worth, especially if the time needed to convince the resistors is class time in which other group members are not learning. For these cases having a plan B in your pocket is crucial.

4.    Managing time constraints
Setting up equipment, testing the connection, downloading apps or software, explaining to your students how to use the tool – all these things can take a lot of time and patience. Again, as above, it’s a question of weighing up the time needed vs. the benefit gained. On a day when you’re rushing from one company to the next and don’t have time to set up equipment (or pack it away again) this might not be the best option because set-up will take away from teaching time. A five-minute warmer activity that takes 15 minutes to introduce and explain is perhaps not ideal.

5.    Finding the value added
The question I ask myself when planning any activity, technology based or not, is “What does this activity bring to my lesson?” The aim of using technology in the classroom should not simply be to use technology. For example, brainstorming a topic with a class by typing their ideas into a word document which is projected onto a screen doesn’t improve in any way on writing ideas onto a whiteboard or flip chart. This is a basic example, but bear in mind that some of the traditional methods have become tradition for good reason!

Any more pros or cons you want to share?

By Laura B.