“It’s all about being involved, being present, being in the moment and not being distracted”
For ILAC co-founder Jonathan Kolber tech-free means getting rid of all the technology that can hinder learning and interaction in the classroom.
“The elephant in the classroom is the technology that is distracting from learning and from making human connections,” he told The PIE News.
“I think those are the reasons why people come to study overseas, which may be very different to studying in their own country where technology may be a lot more valuable.”
In the pilot project, the English language school will ask students to switch off and put away their mobile phones before class starts.
Teachers will need to change the way they plan their lessons, too, reducing the use of “passive” digital tools such as videos and opt for “active communication methods” such as role plays and presentations.
“We don’t need Youtube videos in a language classroom – they can all do that at home,” Kolber explained.
“It’s all about being involved, being present, being in the moment…and not being distracted.”
The pilot will include students aged 16-18 in the Young Adult Program who study in the language school year round.
“We think that age group is the most vulnerable to [the negative effects of technology],” Kolber explained.
In the region of 15 teachers have volunteered to take part in the pilot and feedback has been positive so far. Kolber hopes that a successful pilot will mean the tech-free program will be extended to other courses offered at ILAC.
“It will require a lot of professional development…but we hope we’ll make the changes based on positive feedback and positive results,” he said.
The initiative has also been welcomed by partners, and agents.
“We see the same in our school even with adults,” said Izabella Lauterpakht, one of ILAC’s partners and owner of educational consultancy System-3 Education in Russia.
“They cannot focus when their phone is on and it is difficult to encourage them to relax and enjoy the company of other students and teachers.”