Exploring the Needs, Practices, and Attitudes Toward Technology Integration of Community College ESOL Instructors

Cunningham, C., and Kolski, T. 2021. Exploring the Needs, Practices, and Attitudes Toward Technology Integration of Community College ESOL Instructors. In Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT):Annual Proceedings, V. 2. Selected Papers on the Practice of Educational Communications and Technology. Chicago, 2021. pp.370-382.

This short, accessible article reports on a study examining the professional development needs of adult ESL instructors in relation to the effective integration of technology. Based on classroom observations, instructor interviews, a focus group interview and a researcher journal this study explored the experiences, practices and attitudes of instructors in using technology in their classrooms and their technology related professional development needs and priorities. The researchers identify key actions that would support instructors to extend their use of technology and strengthen the integration of technology to support teaching and learning.

Participants reported that while they are using technology frequently in their classrooms, largely driven by the needs and interests of their students, and that they recognise the importance of technology to support language use in the real world using authentic materials found on the internet, they could be using technology more extensively and effectively.

Instructors identified strategies that would enhance their professional learning and support more effective use of technology for teaching and learning. These include having a technology lead, a person who could identify useful and suitable websites for students and provide instructors with student handouts containing links and information to enable students to locate and navigate learning materials. They also suggested the creation of an online space for instructors to share resources and experiences on an ongoing basis and a regular schedule of moderated meetings in which they can share ideas and resources.

Based on this input from instructors and an extensive review of the literature on professional development to support the effective integration of technology the researchers identify three key strategies to support technology integration to address the specific needs of instructors.   

Technology mentor/coach, a peer instructor experienced in the use of technology for teaching and learning to support less experienced colleagues.

The development of a professional learning community or community of practice in which instructors can meet, on a regular basis, to share ideas and resources and support each others’ learning.

Peer-observation as part of an action research cycle whereby instructors have an opportunity to learn from their peers and to engage in intentional study of how technology can affect learning.

Although the context is ESL in a community college there are interesting and useful pointers for conducting needs assessments and providing practical and productive professional development for adult ESL instructors in other settings.

Retrievable from: https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED617429.pdf#page=99