Educators reveal the inadequacies of outdated content and practices in Pearson’s Middle East Future of ELT Survey
Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 9 November 2021 — Pearson, the world’s leading learning company, released the results from its 2021 Future of English Language Teaching (ELT) in the Middle East Survey. The study explored traditional practices in higher education institutions and exposed the inadequacies of outdated content and a widespread lack of professional development in teaching with technology.
Guy Elders, Head- Product & Services, English, Pearson commented, “The pandemic has had an impact on the education system posing challenges for students and educators from online learning and remote assessment to lack of professional development in technology. Given the speed of the change from on-campus to online, no clear policies and guidelines were put in place in most higher institutions on online teaching, leaving several educators to devise their own strategies to deliver appropriate teaching and assessment methodologies.”
Course Content & Assessment
The survey revealed that despite institutions largely providing commercially produced textbooks for courses, the majority of respondents preferred creating their own content and just over 10% opted using their own materials entirely. Interestingly, despite the availability of an eBook for a course, 14% of educators confirmed that their students don’t know how to access it. And 85% surveyed stated that assessments conducted were based on coursebook content.
With restrictions imposed by the lockdowns, some assessments were conducted online, and others had to report on campus. One UAE educator explained how at his institution, in one program, students completed some assessments online and received outstanding scores, but when they had to report to campus to take an assessment, their results were ‘disastrous’ highlighting discrepancies in performance and uncertainties for the future.
Key among all challenges is the lack of adequate professional development for educators, who are required to integrate new technologies into their classrooms yet some lack the knowledge or preparation on how to properly use new technologies.
“Teachers are expected to integrate technology into the classroom; however, the reality is very different for them. Appropriate access to technical support in the classroom, availability of infrastructure including technology and software, and guided policies on whether to administer digital homework and time allocated to incorporate new technologies are major challenges faced by Middle Eastern Educators,” added Elders.
Alarmingly, there are institutions with strong policies against using technology in the classroom, with search engines blocked on campus internet systems, inadequate internet signals, poorly maintained classroom equipment and no professional development strategy to support educators in teaching with technology.
Nearly 40% of respondents said they had special needs students in their online class and of those, 86% did not have adequate resources to support those students.
The study reveals that flexible, interactive digital course content will be essential going forward, no matter what the model: face-to-face, hybrid, remote, or any combination. This content will be a fundamental part of any course or program and will be central to an institution’s readiness to face future challenges. Furthermore, professional development, specifically in learning management systems and more generally Online Assessments and teaching with technology, were facilitative in the shift to remote learning, and will be essential to institutional readiness going forward.
“No one knows what the future will bring, but we know that the right digital content, professional development, and a plan for online assessment can help educators stay ready for anything,” concluded Elders.
Full results can be found online at: https://middleeast.pearson.com/content/dam/region-core/middle-east/pearson-middle-east/pdf/Future-of-ELT-Report.pdf
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