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Dimitris Primalis and Dimitris Maroulis talk to Russell Stannard

(Reading time: 3 - 5 minutes)


Russell Stannard is a multi award-winning Educational Technologist and founder of He is especially known for his pioneering work in using technology to enhance feedback and his experiments with the Flipped Classroom. He was previously a Principal Teaching Fellow at the University of Warwick and the University of Westminster.

He currently works as an Educational Consultant helping organisations to build online learning/blended learning courses as well as training staff in the use of technology all over the world. He specialises in the use of Camtasia, SnagIT, Google Products and virtual learning environments To date Russell has worked in 31 countries and has the British Council, Oxford University, the INTO group, Macmillan, Express Publishing and the BBC among his many clients.

In 2015 Russell was listed as one of the top 23 most influential Educational Technologists in Twitter and also listed on the MIMIO blog as one of the top 20 Educational Technologists.

Russell Stannard will be a plenary speaker at the 10th Foreign Languages Forum to be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Athens, on 11-12 March 2017. Russell will also conduct a 2-hour workshop for teachers who wish to use technology in their classes.

ELT NEWS has asked two colleagues to interview Russell. Dimitris Primalis and Dimitris Maroulis responded enthusiastically to our invitation. The following is an extract of the full interview that will be published in the next issue of ELT NEWS.

Dimitris Primalis: What criteria should teachers take into consideration when they choose apps for their lessons?

Is the app really going to have an impact on their teaching and learning? Apps are just tools. When we have a class, we have objectives about what we are hoping to achieve in that lesson. We have lots of tools/materials/methods at our disposal and all of these can help us to achieve our objectives. So it is really a matter of asking yourself if the app is really going to help you. Unfortunately it is not always easy to know that because sometimes you don’t realize the potential of a technology until you use it. Overall though, I think that at the moment there is too much emphasis on using technology in the class. I think we are forgetting about what can be achieved through good games and activities, through pairwork and groupwork. I think we must be very careful and really ask ourselves what the app is bringing to the lesson. Often I watch new teachers working or listen to their lesson plans. They throw lots of technology into their lessons and when I ask them why they decided to use the technology, they are often really unclear about its impact and why they are using it.

Dimitris Maroulis What are the advantages of using “blended learning” and “flipped classrooms” language learning approaches?

When we talk about blended learning (the flipped classroom is a form of blended learning too), the most interesting thing for me is out of the classroom. Students might be in a classroom for 3 hours a week and in reality it is not enough time to learn a language well. If we can get them motivated and interested in English and get them to make use of all the great learning opportunities outside of the class then that is how we can really help them. That might be sharing interesting websites for studying English, websites about things they are interested in (like football, art, etc), websites where they can meet other English speaking people etc. This for me is the biggest change.

So we can blend our learning and get students to do things with technology outside of the class that might help to boost their interest in the learning, help them to develop their autonomy and therefore have an impact on their learning.

DP: Many teachers fear that if their students use their mobiles or tablets, they will face problems in terms of classroom management. What is your opinion based on your experience?

It can be a problem. I have never been a huge advocate of using mobiles in the class. In many schools you can’t use mobiles in the classroom anyway. It has to be a very good reason to get students to take their mobiles out and use them. I have used them to play activities on Socrative etc and sometimes used them for recording video with an app called capture but generally I make more use of technology out of the class.

DM: What is the impact of IWBs on the language teaching and learning? Are our classrooms really technologically advanced with their use?

I really don’t like IWBs myself. I was involved in a number of projects back in 2000 and beyond and I thought that most of them were really disappointing. They are not that easy to learn, they tend to make lessons very teacher centered and in most cases you are very limited by the number of students that can interact with the board at any point. I think the affordances of a big white board and lots of pens have been forgotten. I think I would prefer to spend my money on something different like a good Wi-Fi connection in the classes, more readers for the students or a few flip charts that we can place around the class for the students to use.

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