Online ESL teacher at Acadsoc
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The role of technology in our lives today is so vital that we cannot imagine our day without using a cellphone, television, payment solutions such as Alipay and even our computers. We need technology to do our jobs, to communicate more effectively, to conduct research, and to learn. We will look at how technology has shaped the way in which teachers have conducted their lessons both in the conventional classroom and online. We will also look at how English learning has evolved through the emergence of ESL companies such as Acadsoc.
Traditionally, the image that circles our brains when we think of the classroom atmosphere of the past, is where a teacher is standing in front of the pupils in a cloud of chalk dust, while they cough relentlessly. A great effort is put in to make sure that the blackboard is cleaned before further information can be written. These chains of events put so much pressure on the students to learn and listen while writing down valuable information, cutting the time available to engage in conversations. A lot of this happened well into the early years of the new millennium (2000 AD).
For the purposes of this information, it is important to detail the past and the present climate in the classroom and highlight the positive effects that technology has.
Tipping the Scales of Innovation and Flexibility
As technology developed in the early 2000s, we saw the emergence of computers, which of course, were not readily available to the masses – however, there was one more development that would change the culture of learning in the classroom… The overhead projector. Kidwell, Ackerberg-Hastings & Roberts (2008) claimed that this initial use of the projector as an educational tool did not take place in a traditional school setting, but rather in a US military classroom. The overhead projectors were used to create a classroom atmosphere at any convenient place that the military saw fit.
When overhead projectors entered the classroom, they changed the way in which teachers conducted their lessons forever. In America, where they were first adopted in the traditional classroom, these devices allowed the teacher to prepare work well in advance. This translated to a more effective learning environment by freeing up more time for verbal engagements, broadening the mind through conversations.
Fast-forward to late 2010, the classroom has now adopted the interactive whiteboard (IWB) which is a replacement to the traditional blackboard that initially just used chalk. Interactive whiteboards allow the teacher to use the whiteboard in conjunction with their laptops. This allows for more ways to learn such as media (which includes music, pictures, and movies), digital materials such as e-books and Powerpoint Presentations. In ‘400 Ideas for Interactive Whiteboards’, Sharma et al (2011:10-11) listed one of the benefits of using an IWB as it ‘allowing for more personalized content’. This personalization means that the teacher can create content that is specific to the type of students that he/she has, maximizing the effectiveness of their classroom.
Working Smarter, Not Harder
From the above information, it is evident that technology has facilitated a more effective learning environment in the classroom. For teachers teaching English, these advancements in technology have innovated the way in which English, a predominantly theoretical subject, making it a more interactive subject where it is not simply reading and reciting alone.
This advancement means that teachers and students alike can work smarter and not harder. The use of media to supply information and materials digitally implies that a greater number of students can be more engaged in the same amount of time. Technology has taken a teacher who would normally have their back towards their students while writing on the board, to a full lesson where a teacher is making face to face contact engagement.
As teachers continue to engage more students, they can develop their skills in a faster way. They can adapt quickly and more appropriately to the feedback in the classroom. Their organizational skills are more emphasized on through planning ahead and helping them maximize the effectiveness of their lessons.
In the past decade, the international barriers that existed have been abolished by the use and availability of technology as a teaching mechanism. The fact that computers and national coverage of internet exists in countries such as America and China just to name a few, means that teachers can share experiences and methods that help improve the classroom atmosphere. This improves teachers’ skills in a way that is unimaginable. Teachers can test methods in a more efficient way and hone their skills in a way that is most beneficial to not only the students but themselves.
Joshua Starr, a nationally prominent superintendent, recently told NPR, “I ask teachers all the time if you can Google it, why teach it?” Here’s why you should teach it – as a teacher in a technologically advancing world, you become more of a guide or coach rather than a presenter or a hub of information. These days students have access to the internet and what they learn or research may not necessarily be portrayed in a manner that they can easily understand or grasp, it is therefore important for a teacher to be able to break that information down into portions that the students can grasp. This is how technology is transforming teachers into multidimensional coaches than just linear individuals with one defined job description. Technology and largely the internet, has allowed teachers, young and old to develop new styles of teaching such as one to one teaching that they can do through Acadsoc if the thought of teaching more than one student is too much to handle.
For anyone aspiring to be a teacher or anyone who has been a teacher but has been looking to cut down on all the administration of conventional classroom teaching, many opportunities exist. In the past ten years, online education has grown exponentially and the emergence of ESL companies such as Acadsoc has been rapid. These companies aim to provide one to one English classes to students all over the world, with the majority emanating from China. Between 2002 and the year 2011, online classes enrolment had increased by up to 32.1percent (Babson Survey – 2013). With the rapid innovation of technology within the past five years, Acadsoc has a database of over three thousand teachers from all over the world, a large portion of whom are retirees or teachers who prefer online teaching as a viable income stream. The existence of such a company benefits so many teachers who have a desire to manage themselves, maximize their time and not deal with the daily issues of a conventional schooling structure. The added benefit of working from home using a computer means that teachers can continue to do what they love via an online platform that eliminates the stress of creating your own learning materials as these are already prepared for you beforehand. It is expected that this avenue of teaching may very well become the preferred work for many English teachers around the world.
Companies like Acadsoc have a culture that aims to give their teachers peace of mind and one way they achieve this is through teaching materials that are already prepared. This is a plus for the teachers as it allows them to focus only on conducting their classes.
For teachers who may not be open to the idea of online teaching, they can also access various blogs and websites that can help them create their own class materials to present to their students. Digital materials vary from pictures, colors, and animations that can bring a level of excitement and an overall improvement in the classroom. Nik Donovic states that ‘creating your own resources and website as a teacher may change how children perceive education’. This means that using technology to further the ideas and getting children involved through skills they have required as a generational prerequisite (such as utilizing computers and the internet in their daily lives) will ensure that not only are they engaged, but you as a teacher are able to adapt and grow within the classroom.
E-Learning as the Future
Online education has indeed become a pioneer in the progression of how education is perceived. From using computers in the classroom to companies like Acadsoc who provide a different avenue of learning and teaching, to the availability of online platforms and forums to help teachers grow within their job description, it is very clear that E-learning is the future, and the future is already here.
In the past decade, technology has changed so many things that influence us directly. From how we communicate, to how we execute ideas and largely, how we learn. For teachers who are at the core of the learning experience, it is important to adapt and innovate as technology grows. For many purists who still believe that the ordinary method of teaching is the only way, they should consider all the advantages that technology brings to the table and see how they can be influenced, not only personally, but professionally. Hard work does not always translate to success, with the aid of technology, teachers can learn to work smarter and more effectively as the needs of the current global learning climate.
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