It goes without saying that technology is all around us and exposure to it is almost inevitable in every activity of our lives: CD-ROMs, e-mails, the Internet, ATMs, the World Wide Web. It seems to be our everyday life. Integrated into the terminology that most people wouldn’t even ask what we’re talking about.
They will certainly know what we mean, even those who are not technology-minded.
We all know that technology is always evolving and just when we think we’ve figured out how it works, we have an onslaught of new developments, gadgets and tools that make us wonder what We’re still not in square one. And we are not. We are in the midst of a never-ending quest for knowledge. Isn’t this education? The words mentioned above are now a part of our daily lives, and we may even realize that they were never that complicated before. But they were! Like at present we love to hear about blog, iPod, postcasting, streaming, RSS etc. In turn, this would be such that we would feel comfortable talking about them as well as hearing about them. The quest to learn continues… for the best!
However, the purpose of this article is not to tell you that technology is always evolving_ something you already know for sure_ but to share with you some of the reasons that I personally enjoyed using technology in the classroom. Why I love teaching and why I think every teacher should use it as much as possible.
I have been teaching English as a Second Language and Spanish as a Second Language for over 14 years and throughout my career I have always noticed how fascinated students feel when they deal with technology.
You can see in their eyes, whenever they come in contact with it, they radiate that spark of emotion.
However, this does not apply to teachers. I have seen many teachers feel either intimidated or overwhelmed by new technological advances, as if, in a way, they have to place themselves in a long forgotten position, that is, as students. And it is true that we are all learners from new technologies. But in life also we are learners!!! Who can say, “I know everything”? I definitely couldn’t! To narrow it down a bit, who can say “I know everything there is to know about my area of expertise?” I couldn’t even say that. I must admit that there is a world of knowledge out there that asks or even begs for exploration and it is up to us to engage in this quest to discover more and more every day. . Will we ever know everything? I guess it would be like asking if we might ever be able to bottle up all the ocean water. We may not be able to do this, but what a great time we can have while trying to do so!
It is very understandable that we as teachers are not always up to date with new trends, but if we just try to relax and lose our fear of them we will see that they are not our enemies but our allies. . It is true that if I want to stand in front of my students with an aura of almighty power and wisdom, then this may not be the best way, but I wonder, is it ever good to have such attitude in front of our students? Is it good to have that kind of attitude for our personal growth and development? “I know everything and if there’s something I don’t, I’ll act like an ostrich and put my head under the ground.” Is this what we really want to do? With or without technology, this attitude will often be the main cause of frustration and disapproval from both our peers and students alike, in fact we all come into contact with it.
Sadly, this is what is happening in most classrooms nowadays. Many teachers do not approach technology for fear of the unknown, or even to give students some sort of authority. After all, isn’t it true that teachers teach and students learn? Well, yes… but don’t forget and always keep in mind that we are all learning. The more I teach and see how my students react, the more I learn about them, about myself, how to reach them, about my teaching practices. It is all part of the learning experience. Now there is not such a clear distinction.
Undoubtedly, young people feel more attracted to new technologies than adults. They spend so much time dealing with it that they become self-taught experts. Actually, they know a lot! Maybe more than us! So what? Where some teachers might find trouble or fear, I see a possibility!
Think about the wonderful opportunity to involve those students in sharing part of the knowledge acquired after hours and hours, for example. They could have shared many things with the rest of the class so that everyone and you could learn from your own experience. See them not as threats but as allies in the quest for knowledge. You may not know anything, a little or maybe a lot, about their favorite subjects! that does not matter. You can start using new technologies right away! how? very easily. With a few tips and instructions, any teacher can start using them straight away! Just consider this:
How much more effective would your lessons be if you could create your own website with the materials you needed to use with your students? Just think about the benefits of it in class, if you’ve never done anything like this before.
“Yeah, okay.” Many would say. “I just learned to check my e-mail and now you’re expecting me to build a website! Sounds cool but too optimistic and unrealistic!”
My answer would be: “Do you know how to use a word processor?”
If your answer is “yes”, I will tell you that it will take you 10 minutes more to learn how to build a website if you know how to use a word processor.
If your answer is “no,” it may take 15 to 20 minutes for you to build your first website.
Yes, you heard me right! Ten to twenty minutes more and you’ll have your own website up and running! How about software? Do you need some special software?
Well, if you have a word processor like Word, you don’t need any other special software. that will do!
Our purpose in this article is not to explain how to make a website, but I promise I will in another installment of these mini articles. What I want to highlight here is that technology doesn’t need to be difficult for us to implement. Actually, the opposite is true. We have to lose the fear of it and we can accomplish tasks unimaginable to us just a year ago! Everything is about losing the fear of technology! Once you decide to implement new technologies in your classroom, you are well on your way to that goal. It is your decision that matters the most. Put your mind in it and the rest will be plain sailing.
Why do students love “technology” so much? Simply put, technology has a magical ingredient. It’s the thrill of discovering something new, an unexplored path begging to be explored. I call it “matrix syndrome”. If you’ve seen the movie “The Matrix,” you might know what I mean, that little thing that drives you to learn more that doesn’t leave you until you’ve answered all the questions. Don’t give up, and you don’t get a clue at the same time. Once you’ve sorted one out, another closely related one appears, and boggles your mind trying to figure out what might happen next. You can’t take your mind off it and really crave for more and more, like an addiction begs to beg. The good thing is that this knowledge is addictive.
If you’re not very technology-oriented, think about how missing your students may be, not because your lessons aren’t good enough. They can be excellent lessons. But just imagine how empowering you can make your lessons by adopting new technologies and taking advantage of students with some expertise in the field. Not only will you be taking your lessons to the next level, but you will also be creating a great illustration of magic in your classroom. And when you see that gleam in your students’ eyes, you will know for sure that you have made the right decision.