Maximising EFL Student Engagement in a Higher Education Setting via ICT Integration: Old wine, New bottle, New consumers

Van Giang NGO
University of Adelaide, Australia

Michelle PICARD
University of Adelaide, Australia


Participation in higher education in Vietnam has increased incrementally in the past decade from 162,000 students in 1992-1993 to over 1.3 million in 2005-2006 (Hayden & Thiep, 2007, p.74). At the same time, the sector has also been impacted by rapid international advancements in Information and Communication Technology (ICT. All these changes have impacted dramatically on the teaching of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) in Vietnam. ICT integration into learning and teaching is often heralded as a panacea to all teaching and learning ills, especially issues related to student engagement. Nevertheless, many doubt whether ICT integration will actually meet these high expectations and argue that it is the pedagogy instead of the technology that will engage students. In this paper, we report on the observation of and follow-up interviews with two university English lecturers at Hanoi University, Vietnam. Drawing on theories on technology integration including Collis et al (1997) and Puentedura (2006); and social theory (e.g. Archer 1995, 2007; Boughey & Niven, 2012), we demonstrate that ICT technology that enhances student engagement can be just 'old wine in new bottles' with 'new consumers'. We also show that structural institutional factors such as the availability of technology; cultural factors, such as the implicit roles of the teacher and learners and peer support for technology use; and individual factors, such as the teacher and learners' digital literacy and attitudes towards ICT integration, all impact on the engagement of students in activities involving ICT integration.

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