More than fifty practical articles have appeared in TLT Wired since the column began under the very capable co-editorship of Malcolm Swanson and Paul Daniels. Past columns are collected online at <jalt-publications.org/tlt/wired/>. Trends in computing and other technologies may shift suddenly, but readers may be surprised to find that many of these articles are as useful now as the year they were published. For example, please revisit the very first column, "Getting the most out of Apple OS X" (Swanson) in May 2003 to see that eleven of the twelve resources for Mac OS X users are still there, up-to-date, and ready to help teachers get more out of their technology. Remarkable.
Considerations when writing for TLT Wired
Give teachers something to do. The web is full of good review sites, software documentation, and tutorials. Readers should come away from a TLT Wired article with a task to perform to improve their teaching, become a better learner, or use technology more effectively in an academic setting.
While it is tempting to try to write up the latest greatest new thing, will it last? If a new product is truly significant, it will probably have competitors. If there is nothing to compare an exciting new gizmo with, it may be too new. Comparison articles helping teachers to choose the best new tech are useful.
A description of the features and uses of a piece of hardware or software is just the starting point. Far more important is to give readers specific ways to apply technology to being a teacher.
Web sites vs. web applications
Reviews of web sites rarely make good articles for a publication like TLT. Remember, your article will be printed and mailed. That copy of TLT may stay in an office or laptop bag for a long time. A website may go through an upgrade by the time readers see the review. One exception is the class of Web 2.0 services, often called web applications. Recent examples of these in TLT Wired include articles on Quizlet (Foster, 2009) and VoiceThread (Brewster, von Dietze, & Hunter, 2009).
Faculty Development (FD)
A submission to TLT Wired does not have to address the needs of language learners. Many faculty members may not have the resources or opportunity to apply technological solutions to the needs of students without lengthy processes and proposals. However, teachers may be able to share new ideas, skills, or tools with their colleagues.
Choosing and using hardware
Most articles have approached using application or server software, not hardware. Good, clear descriptions of how to select and use the best hardware with a focus on use in the classroom or for research are a useful supplement to online buying guides for consumers.
Events and groups
Reports on academic conferences and activities may fit well in TLT's Focus or Grassroots. However, there are tech-related groups or meetings which do not fall neatly under the academic umbrella. Please report on tech-related groups or events which TLT readers can take advantage of and learn from.
Be brief: no more than 1,000 words. Web-based republication may seem to allow long articles without cost, however TLT is first and foremost a print journal. More importantly, long articles always carry a significant cost: the time and attention of busy teachers. Lengthy lists or tables may be shifted to an online-only appendix.
Include images with your submission. Graphics can make articles more engaging, communicate effectively, help to organize a paper, and improve the layout and visual appeal of TLT. Computer systems include software for capturing a screenshot, but more sophisticated applications can also be found (Screenshot, 2010). Capture as large an image as possible at high quality. Images can always be cropped or resized later, so get as much as you can. Use .jpg files and send them as is: image editing is dictated by print and web reproduction requirements.
Look around your workplace and consider the level of technological literacy you see in the profession and pitch an article accordingly. Try to keep a consistent view of the savvy of your audience in mind. A single article cannot equally serve the needs of experts and novices.
The Language Teacherfollows APA style in Feature and other articles. While APA may not apply as neatly to TLT Wired, please use it as a guide to keep the tone and style of submissions professional. Avoid excessive use of the first person; present resources and practices as courses of action or subjects for the reader, not anecdotes. URLs, notes, and references should follow APA style as adapted in TLT. The latest edition of the APA publication manual (2009) now includes citation examples for electronic sources and will help writers when citing unconventional technical media such as podcasts or wikis.
A request for writers and readers
Every TLT Wired column since the beginning has opened with this statement of purpose: "In this column, we explore the issue of teachers and technology—not just as it relates to CALL solutions, but also to Internet, software, and hardware concerns that all teachers face." Please do contact us. How would you like to improve as a language instructor and academic? Is there a role for technology to help JALT members reach those goals? What would you like to be able to do with the technology you already own, but cannot do today? When you look around the profession, what areas of technology are teachers not using effectively? Those questions could become the seed of an article that will help you, and help other teachers.
American Psychological Association. (2009). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association.Washington, DC: APA.
Brewster, D., von Dietze, H., & Hunter, S. (2009). Giving your students an online voice. The Language Teacher, 33(9).
Foster, H. (2009). Building learner-generated vocabulary logs with Quizlet. The Language Teacher, 33(12).
Screenshot. (2010). Retrieved January 18, 2010, from Wikipedia:<en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Screenshot>.
Swanson, M. (2003). Getting the most out of Apple OS X. The Language Teacher. 27(5). Retrieved from <www.jalt-publications.org/tlt/articles/2003/05/wired>.