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Quick Tip: PRIME: 5 Guidelines for Integrating Appropriate Technology
by Baburhan Uzum

Audience/Level: ESL/EFL teachers and teacher trainers of all levels

Technology has become an integral part of our personal and professional lives. Although we use computers and the Internet on a daily basis to read emails, tweets, Facebook newsfeeds, news, articles, books, and so on, we may still find it difficult to select and design effective instructional technologies for language learning purposes. In this Quick Tip, I will showcase the PRIME framework, through which teachers can design Productive, Real, Interactive, Meaningful, and Engaging computer-assisted language learning (CALL) activities.

Today’s students, what are commonly called digital natives (Prensky, 2001), were born into the digital age and grew up with the technology that many of us had to teach ourselves later in life. It is likely that there are vast differences between our students and ourselves in terms of how we approach and experience technology. Those of us who were born before the time of the common personal computer are identified as “digital immigrants.” We were not born into the digital age, “but have, at some later point in our lives, become fascinated by and adopted many or most aspects of the new technology” (pp. 1–2).

Being a digital immigrant can come with its challenges. We may feel hesitant to experiment with new technologies, hoping to avoid the frustration of the unfamiliar. Even so, teachers at all levels today are expected to integrate technology into their lessons to some extent and design and implement CALL activities. Schools continue to invest in smartboards, computers, tablets, and edutainment software. Some teachers feel that they are being digitally left behind, and are in need of immediate assistance.

There is no shortage of webpages and products dedicated to language learning. However, as the options increase, so does the confusion about how to tell if an activity is worthwhile. Teachers can shop around for CALL activities to teach a variety of language skills. These may include

Experimenting with a variety of new technologies might promote a feeling of novelty and excitement, but it is important to choose activities that are meaningful for students’ learning and worth teachers’ and students’ time and effort.

In order to integrate appropriate technology products into ESL/EFL lessons, an easy-to-remember framework is introduced below.

PRIME Qualities  Questions Response 
Productive  Does the CALL activity help produce targeted learning outcomes? (e.g., reading, writing, listening, speaking)  YES/NO: HOW 
Real  Does the CALL activity reflect/replicate a real life task?  YES/NO: HOW 
Interactive  Does the CALL activity allow students to communicate with others?  YES/NO: HOW 
Meaningful  Is the integration of the technology meaningful? Is the activity performed more effectively with the technology?  YES/NO: HOW 
Engaging  Is the CALL activity engaging to individuals, pairs, or groups of students?  YES/NO: HOW 

The PRIME framework provides a method for teachers to quickly, yet thoroughly, evaluate a potential CALL activity. They may find that an activity meets all, or some of the criteria, and can use that information to select and design activities that address the needs and interests of their digital native students.

See the Appendix (PDF) for an example CALL activity review.

Reference

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1–6.

__________________________

Baburhan Uzum is an assistant professor in the Department of Language, Literacy, and Special Populations at Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas. His research interests include language teacher education and instructional technologies.

 

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