On the agenda: Lindsay Clandfield

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Lindsay Clandfield spoke to the Gazette about his plenary session at the 2019 IATEFL conference. “I was approached to do a plenary for IATEFL, on the basis of some other talks I had been giving about education technology. These were slightly critical talks, and I think that IATEFL wanted to look critically at some of the things we do and what it might look like going forward.

The plenary I’m going to give at this year’s IATEFL is a culmination of a few years of my own questioning of some of the directions that technology has gone in ELT, from what I’m seeing as a teacher, trainer and especially a materials writer.

I want to explore some of the stories we’ve been told (and to be honest, that I’ve repeated without thinking), often with a goal of incorporating more technology. Stories like ‘Education is broken. Classrooms haven’t changed in hundreds of years. Robots are coming for our jobs. We don’t need teachers. 21st century learners are different to other learners. Adapt or die.’

In a way, some of these feel like modern bedtime stories for teachers. But whereas fifteen years ago the stories would give me wonderful dreams of a digital utopia, lately they are taking a darker turn. In this plenary, I’d like to critically examine some of words and narratives we use to talk about technology and methodology. I’d also like to look at these stories next to older ones we’ve been telling ourselves in ELT, and what conflict, if any, there might be.”

We also asked Lindsay to tell us, in the context of his plenary, to comment on what he thinks about the situation of online teachers.

He replied that he felt the situation needed to be addressed, certainly as regards the lack of specialist training available and the isolation of the individual teachers. It is a situation he himself has tried to address as a trainer.

It is an area that IATEFL needs to consider, perhaps reaching out to on line teachers, but that encouraging them to simply form a SIG, for example, might simply be a way of doing something and then forgetting about it.

“Online teaching” Lindsay told us, “is the new Wild West and we need to put it on the agenda!

For more from Lindsay turn to page 24.