View of Brno from Hillside

Editor’s note: TIRF Trustee Michael Carrier contributed the following piece to this issue of “TIRF Today.”

TIRF was represented across Europe over the last few weeks. Trustee Michael Carrier gave presentations in Riga, Latvia (at the EAQUALS Conference); in Barcelona, Spain (at the newly founded InnovateELT Conference, run by; and in Brno, Czechia (at the International Language Symposium).

All of these conferences had a major focus on the application of technology to language education. A number of teachers expressed the view that they still felt unprepared and under-informed about the research and best practices when applying technology to language education.

Michael was therefore able to promote the TIRF volume on Digital Language Learning & Teaching: Research, Theory, and Practice during each of the presentations in which he participated. The talks focused on the new skills and competences that ‘digital teachers’ need in order to make best use of technological affordances. He highlighted the research-based digital teacher competence framework from Cambridge English that was described in the TIRF-Routledge volume mentioned above.

Teachers who reviewed the TIRF volume were impressed by the detailed research papers and the wide-ranging best practice papers. There was a sense among teachers that the volume would be ideal for their teacher training and masters programmes.

Downtown Brno

In addition, Michael gave a presentation on how new technology can be used offline and off-grid – making English available to the underserved and bringing global knowledge to disadvantaged students. He showed examples of offline resources, such as the RACHEL project in Africa. Millions of learners and countless teachers have to work in low resource contexts in emerging economies, where technology access is difficult – the so-called “digital divide.”

Using alternative technology approaches, such as solar power, offline servers, and open-source software, it can be possible to provide connectivity to people who have hitherto lacked access to the world’s knowledge. An example of such an alternative is solar-powered MP3 players used for English classes in Africa. Click here to learn more.

In the same way that TIRF’s work in providing scholarships can help those students who need a little extra support to reach their goals, an investment in alternative technologies can bring educational access to less advantaged learners. This may even be a productive area of future research for TIRF DDG recipients.