ILAC Changes the Game in the Digital Trend by Going Zero-Tech in the Classroom

By Jonathan Kolber, Co-Founder of ILAC

Unplug to connect.

Be present. Build real human connections. Communicating and bonding with classmates leads to learning English and building confidence as human beings. This is our strategic direction for ILAC in 2018 as we recognize how technology is distracting students from learning and developing emotionally.

As schools around the world are becoming more digital, the International Language Academy of Canada (ILAC) is going in the opposite direction by removing electronic devices from the classroom to improve results. And it’s not just about mobile phones – our goal is to create a zero-tech experience. No smart boards, no laptops and minimal photocopying. Just teaching and learning.

This March, ILAC is changing the game by launching a pilot project to go zero-tech at its schools in Toronto and Vancouver. Following in the footsteps of digital giants like Apple and Facebook who are admitting to the addictive dangers of excessive screen time, ILAC is asking students and teachers to “unplug in order to get connected.” ILAC’s focus will be on human connection, not cell phone addiction.

Students come to Canada to experience the language and culture through immersion, not to sit on their cell phones. The ILAC Zero-Tech Pilot Project has two distinct goals: Improved results in language acquisition and increased human connection.

Building confidence through real human interactions is a skill that students need in order to succeed in their careers and personal relationships. Doing so in English is what studying at ILAC is all about.

The ILAC Zero-Tech Pilot Project will start with students ages 16-18 in the Young Adult Program (YAP) who come to study year-round. Numerous research shows that this age group is the most vulnerable to youth tech addiction and its links to sleep disruption, poor academic performance, anxiety, depression, obesity, social isolation and suicide.

Teachers know that when students are on their phones they are not speaking English, not listening in English and not immersing themselves in the experience, but they are distracted. We want our students socializing and being present, which includes making eye contact, building friendships and engaging with teachers.

As the world becomes more digital, students around the world are becoming more distracted, disconnected from classes and sadly, often unable to build authentic relationships. Using cell phones in the classroom has been associated with lower recall, a decrease in academic performance and declining student satisfaction.

For the past 20 years, ILAC has been a leader in student approval rates thanks to our experiential learning philosophy. The zero-tech movement on our campuses will help students gain the full benefits of studying English in Canada, in person and in real time.

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