Published: 2019-03-21 11:41
Last Updated: 2019-03-21 12:15
(Amman) The 23rd Annual English Language Teaching Symposium took place on Friday and Saturday, March 15-16, 2019, at the National Orthodox School–Shmaisani (NOS) under the patronage of Minister of Education, his Excellency Dr. Walid Al Maani, and attending on his behalf was by the Ministry of Education’s Secretary General for Administrative and Financial Affairs Mr. Sami Salaita. Organized annually by NOS in cooperation with the British Council, this year’s symposium was entitled “Technology ≠ Engagement: Towards a Digital Pedagogy”, with the participation of 350 English Language teachers and educators from more than 35 private schools, as well as representatives from the Ministry of Education.
The two-day symposium included 2 keynote speeches as well as 32 workshops, with research papers presented by a number of Jordanian teachers and education specialists, as well as international experts coming from British Council centers in Tunisia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Czech Republic, and Ukraine.
The purpose of this year’s theme, according to the Symposium’s founder and NOS Principal May Goussous, is “to better understand and explore the link between technology and engagement, with the understanding that one does not necessarily equal the other”. The symposium aims “to unpack and reflect on the experience of teachers and school leaders in digitising their schools and classrooms, lessons learned, and the impact of technology on learning outcomes”. Goussous also wanted to raise some questions through the symposium, as she asked, “has teaching or learning really been enhanced by writing on an interactive whiteboard rather than a whiteboard or blackboard? Have we simply substituted the medium without considering added value or benefit for learners?” Indeed, such concerns spring from her awareness that “screens have the power to turn adults and youth into passive consumers of information rather than active producers of content unless this is consciously and explicitly addressed.”
In his welcoming speech delivered on behalf of the NOS Administration and its parent organization, the Orthodox Education Society (OES), OES Board Member Michael Hindeleh highlighted the timeliness of the chosen theme as many educators explore ways to compliment traditional language teaching in classrooms through using technology. “But going back to the basics, the aim of using technology in education is not just to ‘look good’; the real goal should focus on the learning process, and the learner’s needs, and in language, the goal is to improve student literacy … (which) is considered the very foundation of students’ educational experience”, said Hindeleh. Mr Hindeleh stressed the importance of literacy for success in schooling and beyond, in the workplace and in active citizenship. He posed the questions, “does technology have a role in improving the various forms of literacy and overall student learning? Which technologies are we talking about and what roles would they play, and how would they be used effectively?”
Director of the British Council in Jordan, Mr. Joel Bubbers, also addressed the participants, affirming the British Council’s “organizational commitment to NOS, to English Language teaching, and to Jordan is unwavering”, as proven by the fact the Council had been supporting this Symposium “since day one”. In addition, he highlighted the importance of technology in facilitating educational processes around the world, including its role in the mission of the British Council worldwide. “We talk about equipping young people with 21st-century skills, the skills they need to succeed in the global economy”, said Bubbers, “and that’s why the theme this year is so important,” he added. “The market is flooded with websites, apps and online learning programs determined teach the language. We feel it is our responsibility to help educators, school systems, students and parents to navigate their way through that complicated terrain, keeping quality at the center of it all” explained Mr Bubbers. Mr Bubbers said it was particularly appt that this is the Symposiums’ theme for this year since it comes at the same time as the 30th anniversary of the World Wide Web.
Quoting Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee, the inventor of the internet, Mr Bubbers said that “while there is such potential form digital learning, In an increasingly digital world, it is up to teachers and school leaders to be more about when and how to deploy digital resources to enhance learning, and that is what this conference is about.”
NOS has been organising this one-of-its-kind-in-Jordan symposium annually for more than two decades, in cooperation with the British Council, and it is held during the second weekend of March.
For more information, contact: Dahoud Dababaneh - M: 079 526 5457, [email protected]
The Orthodox Educational Society, established in 1957, is a national, charitable organization. It strives to serve the community and contribute to its betterment by providing quality education together with social and humanitarian services, as well as promoting cultural awareness, human values, and morality. To realise its mission, OES established the National Orthodox School– Shmaisani, Wahbeh Tamari Kindergarten, and the National Orthodox School –Ashrafiyeh.