Prof. Dr. Euline Cutrim Schmid


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[Ph.D. Thesis]



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An Investigation into the Use of Interactive

Whiteboard Technology in the Language Classroom:

A Critical Theory of Technology Perspective


Euline Cutrim Schmid

Submitted for the degree of Ph.D. Linguistics

Lancaster University, U.K

September 2005


This thesis reports on a qualitative study concerning the use of interactive whiteboard (IWB) technology in the teaching of English for Academic Purposes/Study Skills to international students. The study was carried out at the University of Lancaster (UK) in the summers of 2003 and 2004. Its primary aim was to throw detailed light on the potential of IWB technology for supporting the language learning process in the context in question. Research data were collected via a variety of ethnographic research instruments, namely classroom observations and feedback from critical colleagues, teacher’s field notes, video recording of classes, an online discussion forum, classroom discussions, semi-structured interviews with students, and pre- and post-course student questionnaires. The research findings reveal several perceived pedagogical benefits of using the technology in this context, such as helping learners to adapt to novel ways of teaching, learning and working in the “information technology society”, and creating higher levels of active learner participation through a) the use of hyperlinks to promote involvement in decision-making processes, b) construction by students of IWB electronic flipcharts, and c) students’ use of the technology for presentations and self-expression. Research data also indicate that, in particular, the ACTIVote aspect of IWB technology can constitute an important tool for implementing novel ways of assessing, engaging and motivating students. However, the findings also show that the pedagogical exploitation of IWB technology poses many challenges for the classroom community, involving adaptation to new ways of teaching and learning. This thesis therefore also discusses these issues and outlines the lessons which can be learnt from the data in terms of how to better exploit the potential of IWB technology in the foreign language classroom. Finally, in overall conceptual terms, the study has also contributed to an understanding of how a “critical theory of technology” can be used to shed light on the process of technology integration in the microcosm of the language classroom.

Keywords: Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL), Interactive Whiteboard Technology, Voting Systems, English Language Teaching, EAP, Teacher-Research, Classroom-Based Research, Critical Theory of Technology, Electronic Literacy Approach


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