Collaborative idea generation for ELT

A single computer

Apple Mac laptopWhat would you do with a single laptop in your classroom? You can make any assumptions you like about the context it is used in. Post your ideas in the comments below.

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Comments on: "A single computer" (14)

  1. With a small group of learners I would cover up the screen and ask learners to work together by writing up a short story. You could provide a prompt such as the first few words (“Steven looked up the road and wondered …”) should learners require it. Students take turns to write their short story but unable to look at the screen. After the students have finished, you could print off the story and get students to re-write it.

  2. I’d use it for some kind of collaborative task – the computer is the tool but the planning etc can be done before they us it. For example they could make a class glog or design a poster for a school event.

  3. First I would rejoice that I no longer have to confiscate facebook prone computers, and close the incessantly open distractors.
    Then, I would use it for such things as keynote presentations for vocabulary; review games like Jeopardy and Millionaire from

  4. I quite often find myself with just a single laptop to work with in the classroom, so it would be business as usual for me 🙂

    Like Shaun, I would probably use it for games and collaborative tasks, such as video listening quizzes.

  5. One laptop is definitely better than none 🙂 One use of the one laptop could be as a creation tool, as already suggested, for collaborative tasks. I’m not sure if this would function better with smaller rather than larger groups, especially if the monitor is quite small.
    In one of my classes, we do have one computer and Internet access, and among other things it functions as a mini access centre for information. For example, the learners use it as a dictionary when they are working together and are unsure of words, and they also like using wikipedia to check new information.

  6. The only tech I have is my own laptop which I take in to school quite often. We haven’t got an IWB or anything else that would increase the size of the screen, so I tend to use it to show youtube videos with older learners (usually small groups) and I use it to show photos, videos, songs with young learners, who don’t mind crowding around the computer to watch! Like Nikki, we sometimes use it as a reference tool, to look up things we are not sure about.

  7. I’m in the same situation as Michelle at the moment and do very much the same things, share images and videoclips, usually as a springboard at the beginning of class – for access to dictionaries or google/wikipedia to answer on-the-spot questions we tend to use the students’ own smartphones (even though they’re officially banned from mainstream classes). Yesterday I shared a slideshow of a local event with a class of 17 teenagers – they commented and chipped in with their personal stories – the screen was a starting point – it didn’t matter that they couldn’t see the images in detail, it was more interesting to hear their take on it.

  8. Thought I would wait a bit to add my ideas. I have my laptop with me in every class, sometimes with net access, sometimes not. I use it for:
    -background music, if the students want it
    -showing photos (either mine or from the net) to illustrate concepts
    -to introduce grammar using Triptico (, a great piece of free software
    -to show powerpoint presentations for vocabulary practice, feedback / error correction – I can send it to SS after the lesson – 1 error per slide
    -to demonstrate website SS can use for self-study

    Thanks for the great suggestions from everyone else so far!

  9. From @BobK99 via Twitter:
    I once put a simple ‘paperless’ paper-chase (a string of 3 or 4 clues) on a blank(ish) PDA… But I knew they were a non-destructive lot, and there were only abt 12 of them

  10. Has this laptop got a camera? Use it to record brief monologue videos from students in a big brother diary room type of way.

    Put it in a quiet room, ss go and record 30 secs about a topic (such as something that annoys them, for example), and then watch them all back together in the class, with a listening activity based on what they predicted everyone would say.


    One student watches a short video and describes it to the others, who can’t see it. They discuss in pairs what they imagine the video to look like, before everybody watches it together and compares the difference between what they thought and what it really looked like.

  11. [Originally posted by Tony on the ‘Photostream’ post]
    One of my favourite ideas for using a laptop comes from Mark Powell in Implementing the Lexical Approach. Designed for aiding presentation delivery, it’s good for helping all learners get to grips with the rhythms and cadences of spoken English.
    1) Put a small text on screen and ask student to hit the ‘return’ key for every time they would naturally pause.
    2) Practise and revise.
    3) Ask student to underline words they wish to stress.
    4) Practise and revise.
    This is a great noticing activity and one that never fails to help students appreciate the larger chunks of pronunciation above and beyond individual words.

  12. […] Infinite ELT ideas: A Single Computer […]

  13. […] one-computer classroom? […]

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