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ElliiCon2023 Speaker Spotlight: Dr. Amin Davoodi

August 23, 2023

This September 14 and 15, Ellii is hosting ElliiCon2023—a free two-day virtual conference to explore the intersection of technology and traditional teaching. Learn how to maintain human connections with your students in the age of AI while incorporating practical tech tools that can free up more time for the crucial aspects of learning. This article is part of a series of posts introducing our 2023 conference speakers.

Meet Dr. Amin Davoodi

Dr. Amin Davoodi is an assistant professor of bilingual and ESL education at the University of Texas Permian Basin. He earned his PhD in curriculum and instruction with a specialization in ESL, technology, and teacher education from Texas A&M University in 2021. His research interests include educational equity, TESOL, robot-assisted learning, innovations in teaching, and bilingual education. Dr. Davoodi is widely recognized for his exemplary work with pre-service teachers and English language learners, having received numerous awards. His 18 years of teaching experience, combined with his international accreditation as a teacher trainer, has enabled him to train ESL and EFL teachers from more than 25 countries. Dr. Davoodi has captivated audiences around the world as an active researcher and keynote speaker, delivering inspiring speeches and presentations in numerous countries including the US, Mexico, Iran, Turkey, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and Egypt.

Presenter Q & A

We are grateful that Dr. Davoodi found time to share these thoughts with the #Ellii team ahead of ElliiCon2023 to help us get to know him better. 

Ellii: The theme of ElliiCon2023 is Humanity & Technology in ELT: Striking a Balance in the Age of AI. In your opinion, is AI a friend or foe of English language teachers? How do you think AI will impact our learners?

Dr. Davoodi: In my opinion, AI can be both a friend and a valuable ally for English language teachers, especially when approached with a humanistic perspective. AI has the potential to enhance language teaching and learning experiences by providing personalized and interactive opportunities for students. It can offer immediate feedback, adapt content to individual needs, and create engaging learning environments that cater to various learning styles. However, the key lies in striking a balance between the benefits of AI and the human touch that educators provide. AI should never replace the role of teachers but should rather complement and amplify their efforts. English language teachers possess unique qualities, such as empathy, emotional intelligence, and the ability to create meaningful connections with students. These human aspects cannot be replicated by AI.

AI's impact on learners will likely be profound. It can help students overcome traditional barriers like time and location constraints, making learning more accessible. AI can offer personalized learning pathways that adapt to students' strengths and weaknesses, fostering a sense of ownership and engagement. Moreover, AI can analyze vast amounts of data to identify learning patterns, helping educators tailor their instruction to meet specific student needs. However, we must also be cautious. The ethical and socio-cultural dimensions of AI need careful consideration. Ensuring data privacy, avoiding biases in algorithms, and maintaining a focus on human values and diversity are crucial. Moreover, fostering compassionate educators who guide students through their language learning journey with empathy and understanding will be indispensable, even in an AI-enhanced environment.

In conclusion, AI can be a friend to English language teachers when harnessed thoughtfully. It can amplify our teaching and provide unique learning opportunities. Nonetheless, educators should always stand at the forefront, nurturing the human aspects of learning that AI cannot replace. This balance will ensure that AI enhances education while upholding the values of empathy, compassion, and individualized support that are fundamental to effective language teaching.

Ellii: What topic will you be focusing on at ElliiCon this year? Can you share a few key points that you plan to touch on?

Dr. Davoodi: At ElliiCon this year, my keynote presentation will focus on "Practical Strategies for Empowering Language Learning with Humanistic Approaches to Technology and AI: Nurturing Compassionate Educators." The central theme of my talk is to explore how educators can effectively leverage technology and AI in language teaching while maintaining a humanistic perspective. Here are a few key points I plan to touch on:

Revolutionizing Language Education: I will discuss how the integration of technology and AI has the potential to revolutionize language education by providing students with personalized, interactive, and engaging learning experiences. This transformation can lead to improved learning outcomes and increased student engagement.

Humanistic Approach: I'll emphasize the importance of approaching technology and AI from a humanistic perspective. It's crucial to align the development of these tools with pedagogical principles that prioritize student well-being, emotional connection, and holistic development.

Compassionate Educators: I'll delve into the role of educators as compassionate guides in the technology-enhanced learning landscape. Fostering empathy and compassion remains paramount, even as technology becomes more prominent in education. I'll discuss strategies for educators to nurture these qualities and create meaningful connections with their students.

Practical Strategies: I will provide practical strategies that educators can implement to integrate technology and AI into their teaching practices. These strategies will be geared towards creating a harmonious balance between technological tools and the human touch in the classroom.

Enhanced Learning Outcomes: I'll highlight how prioritizing compassion and empathy in technology-integrated teaching can lead to improved learning outcomes. Students are more likely to engage deeply with the learning process when they feel understood, supported, and valued by their educators.

Easy-to-Use Technology: I will offer insights into integrating easy-to-use technology tools that seamlessly fit into educators' teaching routines. These tools can enhance learning experiences without overwhelming teachers or students.

In essence, my presentation aims to bridge the gap between technology and humanistic education, demonstrating that the two can coexist to empower language learning. I look forward to discussing these key points and providing educators with actionable strategies to embrace the benefits of technology and AI while remaining true to the values of compassion, empathy, and holistic student development.

Ellii: What's one thing that you would like ElliiCon attendees to know about you before attending your session?

Dr. Davoodi: Before stepping into my session at ElliiCon, I invite attendees to embark on a captivating voyage through the chapters of my life. Hailing from Kermanshah, Iran, I grew up in a Kurdish family that gifted me the remarkable ability to become a simultaneous bilingual in Kurdish and Persian. However, it was my fascination with English that truly kindled my journey.

Imagine a young version of me, around five or six years old, fully engrossed in the captivating world of the iconic video game, Mario. Little did I anticipate that these pixelated adventures would ignite a lifelong passion for language learning. The curiosity that stirred within me was sparked by a seemingly straightforward message at the end of each level: "Thank You, Mario, But Our Princess Is in Another Castle." With no one around me fluent in English, I was unrelenting in my determination to unravel the mystery behind those words and breathe life into their meaning.

Fast forward to today, where I stand as an assistant professor of bilingual/ESL education at the University of Texas Permian Basin. My journey has encompassed the domains of language, culture, and education. Driven by my zeal, I embarked on a self-guided expedition to master English, which eventually carried me across oceans to the United States, where I commenced my PhD pursuit in 2016. My resolute commitment led me to successfully complete my doctoral odyssey at Texas A&M University in 2021.

Across these passages, one truth has crystallized: I am not solely a teacher; I am an eternal learner. With a unique perspective as someone who learned English as a second language, I've gained insights into the excitement, challenges, and transformations that language learning entails. So, as you venture into my ElliiCon session, know that you're engaging with an individual who not only understands both the learner's and educator's perspectives, but also brings 17 years of immersive teaching and teacher training experience across the world. Together, let's explore practical strategies that empower language learning through humanistic approaches in the age of AI, and let the journey of learning continue, for all of us, indefinitely.

Attend Dr. Amin Davoodi's #ElliiCon2023 Session

At #ElliiCon2023, Dr. Davoodi will be presenting on practical strategies for empowering language learning with humanistic approaches to technology and AI. Join this session on September 15 from 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm CDTRegister for ElliiCon2023. It's free! You can also connect with Dr. Davoodi after his presentation at our Presenter Q&A Table.

Dr. Amin Davoodi's ElliiCon2023 session description

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