Tuesday, 28 September 2010
Today’s educational approaches fortunately seem to be focusing more on Project based work, although it is not always the case in every school or learning institution.
When I first tried an online course for my professional development my intentions were not only to develop my professional skills but also to be part of a group of students in the situation of being taught totally online. I wanted to experience it myself before I would apply it with my students. And it was awesome! I could not believe what globalization, broad band and digital communication would give me as a student and later as a teacher.
So I thought to myself, now I have to put it into practice, and in all occasions I could, I tried to include a bit of technology. Last year, for example, with the influenza epidemic, it was not only useful but also necessary to be able to manage the TICS so that we can keep contact with our students from home, allowing them to get in touch with the schools and the teachers in case they needed help.
I also work in two schools far from home, and in many opportunities I had to use the TICS to be able to participate in their projects. In one of them, I read a short story to them through Skype because of a reading marathon they were taking part in.
This year, in another school, some teachers and I started a project on using the TICS responsibly after a conflict they had had in facebook, they were cyberbullying among themselves. This project was intended to stimulate the good use of TICS and it was really motivating and inspiring for other students too, so it turned into an Institutional project, and next month it is going to be extended to parents and other teachers.
Talking of which, non participating adults are a real problem to this new way of teaching and learning. There are some teachers who totally neglect the use of TICS in the classroom, pointing out they are not appropriate to be used at school or saying they are not capable of using them themselves. Some parents think their children are safer at home because they are all day playing with their computers or meeting friends on the net. But the case is usually the opposite. And this thick wall they present to us when we want them to get involved in the use of TICS is sometimes impossible to go through.
At the moment, I am working with my students at a Technical High School with a translation of an instruction manual for a control numeric lathe, which is going to be presented for their Annual Exhibition as a new piece of machinery at their workshop. That translation is being made in a google doc, at their school computer room, and from each other’s home and my task is only monitoring, guiding, facilitating the work. Of course, I will also be in charge of the final edition and proof reading but the most important part will be done by my students, who are collaborating with each other, in a word, they are doing Project work
All of us know the advantages of Project work, we have been exchanging bibliography and opinions about it, but I think the most important one is the fact that it is “student-centered”. When students are protagonists, they engage, they feel confidence, they have the sense of achievement that everyone looks for when taking in any task.
In other modalities of language learning, let’s say, private schools of English, students seem to get involved quickly in the proposed activities but some people say that using internet in an English classroom is a waste of time, that there’s no point in using the TICS in the class. I think we have to use the TICs with the purpose of tools, which is their real purpose, a new tool, highly used and enjoyed by our students, digitally born specialists who found this way the best one to communicate with each other.