Integrating technology in the EFL classroom

A few weeks ago I blogged about my recent experience of using edtech in class. Claudia Andrade shared an interesting response to the post:

This got me thinking about my practice and my reliance on certain forms of evaluation. Looking back at most of my reflections on this blog, it’s clear that I judge the success of new approaches or activities on two things – either self-reflection or student feedback. At best I use both.

I’ve done enough training courses that have drummed that ‘plan-do-review’ cycle into me…

A nice diagram from Youth Work Essentials

Plus, as I’ve become a more experienced practitioner I’ve improved my ability to reflect critically and (somewhat) objectively on my approach and how it works for my students. I’ve involved students far more in this reflection/evaluation process as time has gone on. Looking back, it makes me cringe a bit when I realise how little I appreciated student feedback in my early teaching days…

However, I can see there are weakness in the way I evaluate the impact of an approach or a particular resource. I don’t think I use enough tools to help guide my reflections – I could make far more use of pedagogical frameworks as a guide when evaluating my practice.

This is particularly true of my approach to edtech at times. Although I’m looking for ways to integrate technology, more often than not it seems that I trial a piece of edtech in an unprincipled or isolated way. This normally results in me using a tech tool merely as an alternative to my established approach rather than as an enhancement.

A good example of this is my recent use of Quizlet. I trialled this digital flashcard tool over the course of a term, and found mixed results when it came to student engagement. Student interest tended to drop off towards the end of term, however it was reignited somewhat when I gave learners more freedom to create their own study sets (rather than preparing these for them). Sure, giving learners ownership was likely to engage them more, plus it requires more higher-order thinking skills which will benefit learners development-wise too (see Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy for a good overview of these skills). The trouble is, I didn’t really think about when it was a good time to give students more ownership or how best to do so. I’d spent too long using this flashcard tool in a rather conventional sense, which now seems rather limiting.

The resource that Claudia suggested is exactly what I was looking for. The Technology Integration Matrix provides a really clear description for levels of technology integration. This serves as a great model for teachers looking for principled and progressive ways to integrate technology into classes…

(Image taken from this great site)

 The creators highlight how the level of technology integration is linked to student ownership, along with a shift from procedural to conceptual understanding – linked to higher order thinking skills…

(a slide from this video)

Despite my approach to Quizlet ending up with the students taking more ownership, this model helped highlight that I could have progressed towards this in a more principled way. I feel that student use of the tool was very much ‘Entry’ or ‘Adoption’ level for too long, especially in a collaborative and constructive sense.

This matrix is a great addition to my toolkit for both planning and evaluation. It’s useful for helping me establish the next steps when integrating a new tech tool, and offers some useful indicators to help guide my reflections (adding more objectivity I hope!). Thanks Claudia!!!!

In response to Claudia’s post I shared another model of impact assessment for technology that I’ve come across. Ashcroft and Imrie (2014) mention the SAMR model in their own article reflecting on the use of digital flashcards….

I came across these ‘Questions to ask’ in relation to the SAMR model, which make it seem fairly straightforward…image from

The SAMR Model and the Tech Integration Matrix both seem really useful. Having recently finished an MA module in technology-assisted language learning I am quite surprised that neither of these were mentioned during the course – the SAMR model seems to have been around a long while. Oh well, I know about them now! If this is all new to you then I hope you find some benefit in these too!

Feature image from by Patricia

Categories: General, teacher development

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8 replies

  1. Thanks for this framework! Never heard about it. I find this as very insightful guidance as the developer of new edtech (my most recent work is a free, web-based tool that lets teachers create interactive video quizzes around youtube or vimeo videos:


  2. A great post, really enjoyed it. I was quite familiar with the SAMR model, but the TIM model is a new one, and now stuck on the noticeboard by my desk. Thanks!


  3. A nice blog post which reflects well the sterling work you did with Quizlet on the MA programme. Top notch!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cheers Gavin! These frameworks for integrating tech are really useful, I reckon they could be worth mentioning on the course. Mind you, there is always so much you could cover on these things, got to draw the line somewhere.


      • I’ve used SAMR in various talks over the past few years but there are issues with it. See here, for one example: . On the course, you’ll remember, we look at ‘questions’ rather than frameworks. In the end, the ‘questioning the value’ exercise has to make sense to teachers, I reckon.


        • Yeah absolutely. It’s been really useful to critically reflect on my use of tech in class. It’s slightly shifted my perspective I’d say, in some past posts and reflections I’ve been more skeptical than I am now. When it comes to these frameworks, they’re really interesting and do formalise my approach to an extent, but I don’t have the time to evaluate things in such depth all the time – that’s not realistic


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