The following is a guest post written by Lori Wade, freelance blogger and content writer. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us.
Let’s be frank here — the academe has always been a little behind when it comes to practically everything remotely related to innovation. Well, if we are completely honest, ‘a little’ is an understatement here. No doubt it is often the problem with the municipal budget that some schools have terribly outdated computers, but the really troubling issue is that a lot of teachers still refuse to embrace technology and make it a part of the education process.
To put it simply, every teacher these days has to understand that the millennial generation is gradually becoming the major workforce in the job market, and the millennials that are drawing closer to their college graduation are not overly anxious about the old ways. The same is even more true for the new generation of school students, who are now being tagged as digital natives.
In other words, whichever age group you are working with, it is your primary goal as a teacher to make the environment student-friendly. The good news is that you can easily achieve this effect even on a small school budget. The Internet, in particular, can be a handy and affordable learning tool in every classroom. Here are some ideas on how to make the most of the internet in your lessons:
#1 Take advantage of video lessons
Videos offer a great way to make education fun, no matter which subjects you are dealing with. Plus, the days when you had to book a separate room for any video class are long gone — you can now use software to project films from your phone/tablet directly to the classroom screen.
Another huge perk is that you can easily find plenty of free, educational channels on YouTube. Simply subscribing to a couple of video blogs in your subject area might save you a lot of trouble when preparing for the next lesson — after all, most of these videos are short, funny and visual. This is simply a win-win situation both for the students and the teachers! (If you are a student and accidentally came across this article, this is the part when you start thinking of sharing it with your teacher. No, seriously — just make sure to pick the most liberal professor).
#2 Invite remote speakers
Another great idea that will give any lesson a refreshing vibe is to invite remote speakers. Once again, this solution is suitable for all age groups and subjects, but, of course, you will have to choose your guests accordingly. For the youngest ones, for example, it can be a remote type of ‘who I want to be when I grow up’ lesson, where representatives of different professions attend virtually instead of coming in person to the classroom personally. For older students, you can invite subject matter experts — here, the engagement will mostly depend on your own connections.
Plus, the number of apps to choose from is enormous. From Skype and FaceTime to Viber and WhatsApp, these apps come with no fees or complications — a stable Internet connection and a screen are all you need.
#3 Create collaboration groups
Some projects are all about collaboration. All of the messaging apps mentioned above allow users to create groups where members can discuss project-related topics. Another example of a similar app is Slack, which is widely used in a variety of companies that work in teams.
Creating dedicated chat/discussion groups can be very useful for many subjects, allowing the whole team to works towards a common goal. Whether it is a lab report or a training marketing project, the use of Internet and technology in this example teaches students to collaborate, brainstorm, and contribute their share of effort towards the end result. Another great perk is that these forums prepare students for the real-time work environment, stressing the value of teamwork, and potentially reducing the learning curve in the workplace.
#4 Share public files and documents
Speaking of working together, Google suite has made it simpler than ever. Google allows creating shared access to text documents, spreadsheets, and even entire folders. Apple docs also features the same functionality, but the Apple product has its limits since it is very unlikely that all of your students will be Apple/Mac users. Google, on the other hand, hosts its programs on a cloud, using a web browser to access all of the files; so, user operational system makes no difference here.
There are dozens of ways to use Google Docs to increase productivity. The simplest one is to share all of the new assignments in class. Shared files will also become a perfect addition to shared study boards — instead of simply discussing one project or another online, students can actually work together on documents, presentations, graphs, reports, etc. They can even improve their college essay writing by having access to other papers from their class.
Plus, Google docs features the ability to add comments to a document, so it is possible to choose a couple of sample works and share your insight using this feature. Giving specific paper examples and commenting on what is right and what is wrong with each of the papers is the surest way to teach students writing or any other subject in that matter.
#5 Make your lessons more visual
Finally, the Internet gives teachers a chance to make each and every one of their lessons more visual. Pictures and photos are the surest way to achieve this effect. However, the sky’s the limit when choosing visual materials. For example, when teaching geography, you can make use of online maps, taking your audience to the remote locations. Maps can also prove useful when teaching culture and history (for example, an old photo of the location vs. a present-day street view). This approach creates a sense of connection, which is the surest way for the information to make its way into the student’s’ long-term memory.
Another idea, obvious as it may seem, is to use slides in your lessons. This is not a new concept — slides have been used in lectures for years. But, using the internet can give your old visuals a new vibe. By ‘visuals’ we do not necessarily mean pictures and graphs. Those could also be text fragments with the essential information, quotations, and practically any other written information you want to stress.
As you can see, using the Internet in a classroom does not necessarily mean that students will go through their Facebook feed (well, some of them will). Still, making Internet a part of your education process has more pluses than minuses. Put some effort into your lectures, try to walk in your students’ shoes, and speak their language — this is the best way to engage your maturing audience.
Author’s Bio: Lori Wade is a freelance content writer for Thriving Writer who is interested in a wide range of spheres from education and online marketing to entrepreneurship. She is also an aspiring tutor striving to bring education to another level like we all do. Lori is used to handling many writing orders at the same time and as she likes sharing her ideas and experience, she decided to write a great article for you to show how multiple tasks should be dealt with. If you are interested in writing, you can find her on Twitter or Google+ or find her in other social media. Read and take over Lori’s useful insights!