GULF TEACHERS PERCEPTIONS OF TECHNOLOGY USE IN UAE HIGHER EDUCATION
Technology today has taken on new dimensions, not only in the shape of laptop computers, but in the use of cell phones, iPods, and handheld mobile devices. Web-based applications now provide the means for collaboration, and communication for learning. Teachers’ perceptions of the use of new technologies with their students have been largely cast aside, but should be more closely scrutinized, as it is through a teacher’s use that technologies get implemented in coursework and used by students. Disregarding teachers’ perceptions is ignoring a very crucial factor of technology integration- successful use depends on the attitude of teachers toward new technologies. What teachers believe about technology not only shapes their use of technology, but ultimately shapes the learner’s experience (Gulbahar & Gulven, 2008). Participants in this session will be encouraged to share their problems and successes using technology in the EFL classroom. Information on current trends in tools and applications reported by UAE students will be provided. In addition, links to web-based resources along with ideas of how these new tools can be used in the participants own classrooms will be shared. This session is in correlation with the academic paper Gulf Students Changing Perceptions on Technology Use. During this discussion presenters will distribute a survey to collect teachers’ perceptions of useful technologies for learning and open a dialogue about their own classroom use. Information gathered will be used to broaden our understanding of technology in the Gulf EFL classroom by considering teachers' and students' perceptions of technology in learning.
It is important to understand that learners experience and learn in different ways and how learning applies in one context does not always apply to others . Very little has been reported on how Middle Eastern female students or instructors in higher educational institutions across the Gulf perceive technology although it is often claimed that these perceptions can impact how successfully technology is used in the classroom.The presenters describe findings from a comparative study that looks at learners’ perceptions of how the use of new technologies in their own learning have rapidly changed. The findings illustrate how EFL learners in UAE higher education institutions are rapidly applying new technologies in their learning, in and outside the classroom. These learners are coming to class equipped with their own tools like cell phones, cameras, iPods, PDAs, and laptops that are being used in increasingly sophisticated ways and for diverse communication purposes. There has also been a surge of open source and web-based applications that provide real-time collaboration, communication, social bookmarking, presentation options and information sharing being independently applied by UAE students. The presenters discuss these new uses of tools and applications and allow time for participants to discuss these findings as well as ask the students and teachers themselves about their changing perceptions and technology use.