Introducing mobile technology for enhancing teaching and learning to the English language classroom in Bangladesh
Mobile technology could have a significant role to play in educational development in the Global South (Banks, 2009; Banks et al, 2009; Onguko and Ngata, 2010). Recently, research has begun to focus upon mobile learning (e.g. Naismith et al, 2004), but the potential of mobile media players (for example, the iPod) is only recently being explored. It has been suggested that language learning is one of the disciplines particularly likely to benefit from widespread ownership of mobile devices such as phones and media players (KukulskaHulme, 2006). There are arguments and counter arguments whether it is appropriate to deployment of technologies for education, or not, in the Global South (Leach, 2008; Dhanarajan, 2001), but many governments from Africa, South Asia and South America are investing in different ICT enhanced educational projects (Leach et al, 2005; Power and Sankale, 2009). // The situation of English language teaching and learning in Bangladesh is not so good (EIA, 2009a). Rigid, unhelpful, old-fashioned and non-active teaching practices, chalk and talk kinds of teacher-dominated lecture-based pedagogy remain the norm in Bangladeshi school culture where students are in a passive role, limited to memorising facts and reciting them back to their teacher (Shohel and Howes, 2008; Shohel, 2008). This is also reflected in learning assessment practices. In Bangladesh, one in five teachers has no teaching qualification (UIS, 2006). But for each and every country ‘schools and teachers remain central to the achievement of a quality education process’ (Yates, 2007, p. 2). It is essential to train English language teachers without teaching qualifications, and to develop their level of English language proficiency and communicative language teaching (CLT) skills to improve their classroom practice in Bangladesh. // Mobile learning can be defined as ‘any educational provision where the sole or dominant technologies are handheld or palmtop devices’ (Traxler, 2005) which is available ‘anywhere, anytime’ (Geddes, 2004). In other words, learning mediated through any mobile devices that is accessible anywhere anytime is mobile learning (Kukulska-Hulme and Shield, 2008). Mobile technology can be used to increase access to authentic teaching and learning materials which could be used at a time convenient to teachers, such as when they are preparing lesson plans or while travelling to schools (Shohel and Banks, 2010; Shohel and Shrestha, 2010). Materials like this have a great impact on teachers’ own learning and their classroom practice (Power, Deane and Hedges, 2009). However the use of technologies in education is very low in Bangladesh (EIA, 2009b). But there is some evidence from other studies that, without prior knowledge or experience of using particular new technologies, teachers and students could use them and bring about changes in educational outcomes (Leach, 2008; Leach et al, 2005). The English in Action programme (www.eiabd.com) in Bangladesh is therefore aimed at improving the teaching of English significantly in all sectors by introducing mobile technology to enhance teaching and learning in English language classrooms in Bangladesh as a means of integrating ICT into different aspects of school-based support systems.