Teaching and the digital

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For many years, teachers have been encouraged to enter the world of iPads, Websites and Online Platforms. However, are we missing the opportunity to really work with technology? Today we’re discussing teaching and the digital.

Jose Manuel Sala – Teacher and Teacher Trainer at IH London

You may have probably heard this before:

  • The teaching world has gone digital.
  • You were trained by a generation that was not born with laptops so wake up!
  • You need to catch up in order to engage with this new generation of digital natives.
  • Books will not be required in the next ten years.

You’ll also hear this vague statement repeated again and again: ‘Using tablets and websites in your classrooms is a compulsory task. The powerful hypertext reshapes the world every minute, with every tweet‘

Ok. Now take a deep breath and let’s put all this noise away for one second. Let’s face it… we are not Duolingo and we are definitely not a Google Translator. And by the way, even if we could be, we shouldn’t be. We cannot compete with big companies and start-ups. As a matter of fact, do you know how many apps for language learning are launched into the market on average? About one hundred… every month!

ipad

I’d like to share some practical advice for trainees from my experience as a tutor here at IH London: if the time I need to design an activity that requires something digital is longer than the amount of time the student is going to take to finish it, I just don’t do it.

We do not have to create digital activities for students. Students have to create activities for themselves.

Believe it or not, I am absolutely in for all things “digital”, however you may wish to define this word. I quite disagree with anyone who doesn’t approve of using keyboards instead of a pen or a pencil. Don't let nostalgia blur your vision:to assume students should only use a piece of paper and a pencil is to assume that people should only communicate face to face rather than using a cell phone.

Keypad

In the following weeks I will be presenting some activities in this blog I am developing with my group at International House London. These activities will start with a single word in Google Docs or a Wiki. Sometimes, students will have to act as users to make comments in websites. And sometimes, it might require something more, but it will always be from them, not from us.

Just because young students were born in the late eighties or nineties (or even after... gulp) it doesn’t necessarily mean they are more willing to “engage” in “contemporary digitalism”.

They have got used to being passive users. Today we have to teach them how to be active producers.

Follow Jose on Twitter: https://twitter.com/jomsaz 

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2 Comments

Miranda Embleton-Smith

Miranda Embleton-Smith

January 28, 2016 04:01

Nice article! I completely agree that students themselves often know more about this than teachers do and that teachers shouldn’t be afraid of deferring to students’ knowledge around technology. It also leads to a more student-led approach and encourages them to actively engage in the lesson.

View all comments by Miranda Embleton-Smith

Miranda Embleton-Smith

Miranda Embleton-Smith

January 28, 2016 04:01

Nice article! I completely agree that students themselves often know more about this than teachers do and that teachers shouldn’t be afraid of deferring to students’ knowledge around technology. It also leads to a more student-led approach and encourages them to actively engage in the lesson.

View all comments by Miranda Embleton-Smith

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