Implementing and researching technological innovation

Implementing and Researching Technological Innovation in Language Teaching

The Case of Interactive Whiteboards for EFL in French Schools

Shona Whyte
Print Pub Date: April 2015
Online DaIMG_0004te: April 2015
Language & Linguistics Collection 2015
Series: New Language Learning and Teaching Environments

Implementing and Researching Technological Innovation in Language Teaching takes a case study approach to investigate the integration of the interactive whiteboard (IWB) into the teaching of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) in French schools. The study highlights the advantages of collaborative action research for stimulating and supporting language teachers in innovative experimentation, and seeks to enhance our understanding of the challenges and opportunities inherent in this process. Utilising a framework which can inform further research into innovative practices with other interactive technologies, this book offers a research design and instruments suitable for assessing classroom adoption of the IWB. In this way, the study provides insights into general processes of technological innovation in language teaching and learning which is of relevance to further research and teacher development in today’s new learning environments.

TOCThe blurb and table of contents should give an idea of the focus of my book on teacher integration of interactive whiteboard (IWB) technology in the language classroom. I followed 9 French EFL teachers (4 primary, 2 lower and 2 upper secondary, and 1 teacher educator) during the iTILT project (

IMG_0010I used a collaborative action research framework (Burns, 2005) and drew on situated learning (Lave and Wenger, 1991) and teacher efficacy theory (Bandura, 1993). [References available in the bibliography on the Palgrave page.] The book proposes a developmental model to describe and explain how different teachers used the IWB to fit existing practice in some cases, and to implement innovation in others.

Hopefully some of this work will be useful in our new European project Interactive Teaching in Languages with Technology (iTILT 2); we are following up on our successful IWB project using other technologies with the same team working in Belgium, France, Germany the Netherlands, Turkey and Wales.


Online support for classroom language teachers: research summary

My general interest in improving language learning opportunities in state school settings has led me to research different dimensions of classroom contexts, including the use of technology and teacher development. There is an overlap between these research interests and my professional responsibilities in university Masters in Teaching programmes and my involvement in collaborative teacher education projects.

IMG_0018I have been involved in teacher education with

  • MA courses FL teaching, research and ICT for pre-service secondary EFL teachers in France;
  • MA courses in ICT for pre-service secondary language teachers (German, Italian, Spanish) in France;
  • FL teaching and IWB-mediated teaching in-service language teachers and teacher trainers (local courses and invited workshops);
  • informal EFL and ICT teacher professional development in institutional and independent projects.


We’ve tried a number of different free tools to allow teachers to test out ways of identifying and sharing teaching resources, communicating with one another in group projects, and learning to use tools which may be appropriate for direct use by their learners.

  • Google+ circle (Whyte, in press; Whyte & Alexander, 2013)
  • curation sites (Whyte, 2012)
  • social networks (Facebook, Twitter; Whyte, 2014a, 2012)
  • Google sites (Whyte, 2014a, 2012)
  • Weebly (Whyte, 2014b)
  • Google drive (in preparation)


We’ve also experimented with a number of types of activities for professional development, including:

  • video diaries (Whyte, in press; Whyte & Alexander, 2013, 2014)
  • teaching resource websites (Whyte 2012, 2014b)
  • CALL task design (Whyte, 2014a, 2014b).


These projects have shown some of the following results:

  • even inexperienced teachers with little class contact can benefit from collaborative teacher education initiatives with technologies;
  • professional development with technologies takes time and effort:  “slow-burner” approaches seem to have greater chances of success;
  • the integration of technologies in language teaching practice involves a number of different dimensions, including
    • a practical/technical dimension
    • a pedagogical dimension
    • a reflective dimension
  • collaborative action research involving academics and practitioners work best with teachers who have
    • already advanced in practical/technical and pedagogical terms
    • defined specific professional objectives (independent professional development agendas).

Current projects

  • videoconferencing in English as a lingua franca (France-Germany)
  • pre-service EFL teacher telecollaboration on task design (France-Netherlands)
  • peer collaboration on task design with pre-service EFL teachers (Whyte, 2015)
  • iTILT 2: interactive teaching in languages with technology (Erasmus Plus, 2015-7).


Whyte, S. (2015). Taking to task(s): Exploring task design by novice language teachers in technology-mediated and non-technological activities. XVII International CALL research conference. Tarragona, Spain, 4-6 July 2015.

Whyte, S. (in press). Implementing and Researching Technological Innovation in Language Teaching: The Case of Interactive Whiteboards for EFL in French Schools. New Language Learning and Teaching Environments. (Series editor: Hayo Reinders). Palgrave Macmillan. April 2015.

Whyte, S. (2014a). Bridging gaps : Using social media to develop techno-pedagogical competences in pre-service language teacher education. Recherche et pratiques pédagogiques en langues de spécialité – Cahiers de l’APLIUT, 33(2):143-169.

Whyte, S. (2014b). Course design for pre-service secondary school teachers: collaboration and reflection in a short, multilingual CALL course. Teacher Education SIG symposium, EuroCALL, Groningen. slides

Whyte, S. (2013). Teaching English for Specific Purposes: A task-based framework for French graduate courses.  Asp 63 (9), 5-30. DOI : 10.4000/asp.3280

Whyte, S. (2012). Curation and social networking for pre-service language teacher development. EuroCALL Teacher Education SIG Symposium – Pecha Kucha, Gothenburg, Sweden, 22-25 August 2012. slides

Whyte, S., & Alexander, J. (2014). Implementing tasks with interactive technologies in classroom CALL: towards a developmental framework. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 40 (1), 1-26. PDF

Whyte, S., & Alexander, J. (2013). Learning to Use Interactive Technologies for Language Teaching: Video Diaries for Teacher Support in the iTILT Project. Atelier didactique SAES, Dijon, 18 mai. slides

Whyte, S., Cutrim Schmid, E., van Hazebrouck, S., & Oberhofer, M. (2013). Open educational resources for CALL teacher education: the iTILT interactive whiteboard project.  Computer Assisted Language Learning, 27 (2), 122-148 doi: 10.1080/09588221.2013.818558

A developmental framework for teacher adoption of interactive technologies in the language classroom

… a collaborative action research project in French schools

Keynote: PL-CALL, Warsaw, June 2014

Foreign language teachers in many European countries are under some pressure to use technology to support communicative language teaching (CLT) and task-based language teaching (TBLT) in their classrooms. Research shows that teachers often show a measure of pedagogical regression while learning to integrate new tools (Fullan, 2001), and that the arrival of technologies may fail to lead to pedagogical transformation because tools like the interactive whiteboard (IWB) can be used to support traditional as well as newer approaches (Avvisati et al., 2013; Beauchamp, 2004).  Teacher education in interactive technologies for language teaching must therefore develop both new technological know-how and encourage pedagogical approaches which are often also experienced as innovative.

The recent European project iTILT ( adopted this twin perspective in the development of open educational resources (e.g., teaching and training materials, video examples of IWB-supported classroom practice) to support CLT and TBLT-oriented language teaching with the IWB. In the course of this project, a collaborative action research initiative was developed to bring together teachers in French state school settings and CALL researchers. Nine French EFL teachers in primary, lower and upper secondary, and higher education contexts were involved in a community of practice with the aims of a) providing teachers with technical and pedagogical support, b) facilitating the sharing of knowledge and experiences, and c) collecting data on teacher development during technology integration (Alexander, 2013; Whyte & Alexander, 2013). The data include:

  • pre- and post-project questionnaire data on teachers’ IWB competence and confidence
  • class films and field notes for each of the nine teachers
  • video examples of classroom practice selected by teachers (56 three-minute clips)
  • two video-stimulated recall interviews per teacher
  • two focus-group learner interviews per class, plus primary learner drawings
  • three teacher focus-group meetings to share video examples of classroom practice
  • contributions to a dedicated online support space for the French teachers

Analysis of these video, questionnaire, and interview data allow an exploration of a) teachers’ IWB use in terms of IWB features and teaching objectives, b) their choices with respect to the design and implementation of learning activities, c) their self-efficacy beliefs with respect to the IWB and ICT in general, and d) their orientation to professional development in language teaching with this tool. Through a mixed-methods approach combining quantitative and qualitative analyses, a number of teacher profiles emerge, revealing differential exploitation of IWB affordances in relation with differing beliefs, goals, and competences. The patterns of technology integration shown by teachers in the various school contexts investigated offer a starting point for a developmental framework to account for the evolution of teaching practices as teachers acquire techno-pedagogical competences (Guichon & Hauck, 2012). They also suggest a pressing need for more pedagogically oriented support to enable teachers to adopt interactive technologies efficiently and effectively.


Alexander, J. (2013). The IWB in EFL, the IWB for EFL: using the IWB to teach EFL in French educational settings. (Unpublished master’s thesis). Université Nice Sophia Antipolis, Nice, France.

Avvisati, F., Hennessey, S., Kozma, R., & Vincent-Lancrin, S. (2013), “Review of the Italian Strategy for Digital Schools”, OECD Education Working Papers, No. 90, OECD Publishing.

Beauchamp, G. (2004). Teacher use of the interactive whiteboard in primary schools: towards an effective transition framework. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 13(3), 327-348.

Cutrim Schmid, E., & Whyte, S. (Eds.) (in press). Teaching languages with technology: communicative approaches to interactive whiteboard use. A resource book for teacher development. Advances in Digital Language Learning and Teaching (Series editors: Michael Thomas, Mark Warschauer & Mark Peterson). Bloomsbury. [Table of contents]

Cutrim Schmid, E. & Whyte, S. (2012). Interactive Whiteboards in School Settings: Teacher Responses to Socio-constructivist Hegemonies.  Language Learning and Technology 16 (2), 65-86.  [Download PDF]

Fullan, M. (2001). Leading in a Culture of Change. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.

Guichon, N., & Hauck, M. (2011). Editorial: Teacher education research in CALL and CMC: more in demand than ever. ReCALL, 23(03), 187-199.

Hillier, E., Beauchamp, G., & Whyte, S. (2013). A study of self-efficacy in the use of interactive whiteboards across educational settings: a European perspective from the iTILT project. Educational Futures, 5 (2) [PDF]

iTILT (interactive Technologies In Language Teaching)



Whyte, S. (in preparation). Implementating technological innovation in the language classroom: the case of interactive whiteboards for EFL in French schools. New language learning and teaching environments series (Editor: Hayo Reinders). Palgrave Macmillan.

Whyte, S. (2013). Orchestrating learning in the language classroom: the IWB as digital dashboard. Special issue on language learning and technology, Babylonia.

Whyte, S., & Alexander, J. (2014). Implementing tasks with interactive technologies in classroom CALL: towards a developmental framework. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 40 (1), 1-26. PDF

Whyte, S., Beauchamp, G., & Hillier, E. (2012). Perceptions of the IWB for second language teaching and learning: the iTILT project. In L. Bradley & S. Thouësny (Eds.), CALL: Using, Learning, Knowing, EUROCALL Conference, Gothenburg, Sweden, 22-25 August 2012, Proceedings (pp. 320-6). © Dublin 2012. doi: 10.14705/rpnet.2012.000074

Whyte, S., Cutrim Schmid, E., & van Hazebrouck, S. (2011). Designing IWB Resources for Language Teaching: the iTILT Project. International Conference on ICT for Language Learning, 4th Edition. Simonelli Editore  [PDF]
Whyte, S., Cutrim Schmid, E., van Hazebrouck, S., & Oberhofer, M. (2013). Open educational resources for CALL teacher education: the iTILT interactive whiteboard project.  Computer Assisted Language Learning, 27 (2), 122-148 doi: 10.1080/09588221.2013.818558