Is It Not Amazing?
I just finished teaching a series of essay writing lessons to an adult student from Japan, although she was in Australia at the time; and, of course, I am in Canada.
Is this not amazing!
When I think of a time, not all that long ago, when telephones had party lines, and you had to listen carefully to the series of rings to know whether or not the call was for your house or one of several neighbours on the same line, I find it incredible that I can teach anyone almost anywhere in the world.
Some of my younger students have a hard time imagining the world without “smart phones.” In fact, some of them don’t even recognize my land-line phone as an actual phone: “But that’s not a real phone!”
Having the ability to see one another, talk to one another, and write on the same screen, makes online teaching both accessible and personal in a way that would have seemed impossible only a few years ago – not to mention the ability to share photos, videos, etc.
Each year, there are more and more tools on hand to help both teachers and students. Granted, you do need to be careful with all the bells and whistles that you don’t lose the core purpose of educating. The basic tenets of learning remain the same, and sometimes good old-fashioned techniques work just as well or even better than the newest shiny colourful (read “distracting”) tech.
The goal is to learn and to retain information so that the student can use it for something purposeful. That is true education. Something that lasts and rewards the student in the end – not just a grade.
A few years ago, I taught a group of three young students (8-10 years old) in China using the internet. While I sat at my desk in Canada, I talked to these youngsters, watched their reactions, and monitored their progress.
Just as with my adult student mentioned above, one of the greatest rewards of my job is to see students flourish and begin to grow. When a student’s writing opens up, becomes more complex without losing meaning, and flows with uninterrupted explanation and detail, it makes you feel so good.
When students just starting to learn the English language begin to speak with more confidence and become excited to reveal the new words or structures they have learned within a day or week, your heart warms and becomes just about as excited as they are.
If you are a teacher, young or old, don’t be afraid of technology and incorporating it within your toolbox. Of course, keep in mind the limits of technology and the importance of YOU!
If you are a student, young or old, don’t be afraid of technology and what it can do to enhance your learning experiences. Once you jump in and give it a try, you will be surprised at how easy it becomes.
As with anything, there can be frustrating moments. The internet can stumble. A platform can have glitches and need restarting. There are always a few gremlins to be sure.
Still the advantages, when use appropriately, far outweigh these few intermittent issues. There are always solutions.
Hey, that can be part of the learning experience! Patience and re-thinking are essential to getting the most out of your education.
I think part of the fear on both the learner and educator’s side – and parents, too, is that once you switch to the “new,” you have to throw out the old.
That is just not true!
I think this is all wrong. The new tools we have at our disposal make it easier for us to access all kinds of learning, but sometimes I teach online exactly the same way I would if the student were sitting in front of me. The only difference is the platform we use to see, talk, and write to one another.
I don’t have to reject all the teaching techniques and learning models I’ve used before! The benefit is in getting to use both and incorporate them seamlessly. (True, I don’t always get this perfect in the beginning.)
Just as with technology online, you can have a mix. Teaching in-person is still an excellent method, too, and we can incorporate some technology there as well.
Some of you will recognize the long “teaching table” at my tutoring location.
So, whether you are a teacher or a student (and hopefully you are both for the remainder or your life), jump into learning and be excited about the possibilities.
Is it not amazing?
Yes, it is!
Is It Not Amazing?