The Digital Outreach Unit within the Malta Information Technology Agency (MITA) and staff from the Department of Languages & Humanities, Faculty of Education (University of Malta) have collaborated with teachers on a project aimed at creating and sharing materials where technology is used as a medium for language teaching and learning.
This brought about an initiative called Better Learning Technologies (BLT) which, over the past months, led to the organisation of a number of workshops and continuing professional development sessions on how technological tools and techniques can be useful to language teachers. Learners were then encouraged by their teachers to create an online magazine during the first weeks of the current scholastic year with the aim of using technology to practice the languages they are learning. The content of this magazine was based on topics such as their classroom and school, cultural information and themes related to the technological world. These topics were covered in different languages including German, Spanish, French and Italian, besides Maltese and English. This also served the purpose of providing material for cross-linguistic and intercultural reflection.
The direct involvement of teachers was fundamental for the BLT, since schools themselves, by their very own nature, represent a learning community. The use of technology, sharing resources and using materials cross-linguistically represent examples of good practice which is effective and easy to share with other teachers and colleagues involved in education.
The BLT project now aims to hear the voices of the learners who participated in the creation of the online magazines. Staff from MITA and the Department of Languages & Humanities will therefore visit the schools which participated in the project: these include Maria Regina College, San Gorg Preca College, Santa Tereza College, St Benedict’s College and St Augustine’s College. Teachers in other schools who are interested in the initiative can also be involved.
The BLT is the result of local strategies aimed at Digital Literacy included in the 2012 National Curriculum Framework (NCF) as a cross-curricular theme through which “students will acquire skills that include confident and critical use of Information Society Technology for communication, work and leisure” (p.9). Furthermore, recently, a nation-wide National Digital Strategy 2014-2020 has been launched.
The educational materials pertaining to language learning through the use of technology were shared through social media and also via a dedicated blog. All educators are invited to join the BLT community by visiting the blog and the Facebook page group: Malta BLT.