THE 21st century students are individuals who are technologically savvy as they were born and raised in a technological environment.
It is almost impossible to imagine them living without their mobile phones or laptops.
As technology is the way of living in the 21st century, technology should also be a part of the way they learn.
Many software have been created to cater for the technological growth of the hardware industry and the most famous of it all is social networking. Through social networking such as Twitter or Facebook, people who are disconnected in real life could become interconnected online.
The teaching and learning of the 21st century is no longer practical via chalk and talk alone.
Generation Y understands better with technology as they have grown up surrounded by them. Not only does technology make teaching more interesting, it also makes the process easier and more manageable when compared to conventional teaching methodologies.
In language teaching specifically, the essential skill learnt is communication thus language teaching methodology should not only incorporate face-to-face communication but also include virtual communication.
Communication today involves SMS (short messaging system), chatting, e-mails and most popularly, social networking. In this technological age, teachers should tap into the power of communication and incorporate these tools into language teaching.
Language learning is a skill that needs a lot of practice in order to master the language. It has to be read, written, listened and spoken in order to understand and to be understood.
The question, is whether language learning for two hours three times a week at the school or tertiary level, is sufficient to provide practice for these language skills.
For years, teachers and lecturers have been “fighting” against time to ensure that students gain the maximum knowledge out of the limited classroom time. Lesson plans need to be carried out with military precision to ensure that the students gain the most out of the lessons.
However, the bottom line is that teachers need more time in order to teach and students need more time to learn. Extending class time would provide teachers with more time to teach while students would have more time to learn, practice and adapt to the language skills but this may not be possible with the existing language curriculum in both schools and universities.
It is crucial therefore for teachers to determine the type of classroom activities, which can help prepare students to communicate in real life beyond the allotted classroom time. It is a common perception that students would respond better to technologically enhanced teaching methods as they appeal better to them.
Edutainment is a combination of education and entertainment. Edutainment can be defined as entertainment that is intended to be educational. In edutainment, the teaching and learning process is conducted via a medium that both entertains while it educates. Examples of edutainment mediums are television programmes, computer software, songs, audio files, games, video clips, films, shows, etc. As long as it serves its purpose to both educate and entertain the students, it falls in that list.
Apart from edutainment, this form of education is also known as infotainment or entertainment-education.
Everyone enjoys good entertainment and for most people it is addictive. For example, if you enjoy playing games, you will get more and more excited playing the game especially when you are familiar with it. The visuals and audio will attract you to be interested and enjoy the entertainment that you are into.
In contrast, education that merely uses chalk and talk is extremely boring. Edutainment allows the goodness of education to be presented in the form of entertainment. Technologically enhanced learning will not only appeal more to the students of the 21st century but will also provide greater avenues for problem solving and creative thinking. With proper technology training, teachers will be able to merge active learning and teaching. They will be able to understand and appreciate the power of technology better and incorporate technology to enhance their learning process.
In doing so, teachers will be able to relate to the students better as they are no longer “outdated” or “obsolete” when it comes to technology and they would be able to provide an authentic experience through technology for their learners.
Edutainment is a part of today’s education system because it appeals and attracts the students, which in the end, helps engage them into learning.
The biggest challenge of all is to teach students to be responsible when using edutainment mediums. When students go online, they expose themselves to online predators. Hence, teachers should guide them to surf safely on the web. If there is a will, there is a way.
PETER & MARY FRANCIS