We are living in the age where students spend more time on the Internet than doing anything else. They spend most of their time surfing the web is search of social interaction, entertainment and knowledge. Conventional teaching methods, course books, and textbooks can no longer inspire them to learn something new as students have done in the past. Since times are changing so must we – the teachers.
In order to keep up with our students we must learn how to use and utilize new technologies as well. Teachers who are not able to do so are regarded, by the students, as old-fashioned, uninteresting (“boring”) and people from whom they cannot learn anything new or useful. As much as that is generally not true, to some extent it is. Today’s students can teach us, their teachers, more than their teachers can teach them. If you don’t agree with me then try this out in your classroom: find a student who spends most of his time playing computer games online with his friends, find out what game he is playing, give him a vocabulary test with the discourse from the game and you will see that he will know and understand more words and expressions than you. I am sure that every English teacher has come across a student like this at least once in their career. If you haven’t, then you are the lucky one. How many of you who work as ESL teachers have tried to explain to your students that writing an essay in your mother tongue and translating it with the help of “Google Translate”, or similar tools, is not the same as “writing an essay in English”? How many times have your students brought you a copy/past book report from “SparkNotes” or “Wikipedia”? Another thing which we all come across is when our students say that they had forgotten to write their homework, study for the test/exam/written task, etc. because they did not hear us in class when we announced it.
So what can we do to prevent this? New times demand new courses of action. Unless a World War Three breaks out, and the Internet disappears from the face of the planet, students will not go back to the “old ways” of learning. The truth is that most teachers are afraid of change. They are afraid to change their ways and evolve with their students and the rest of the world. It is also true that the Internet, computer games and smartphones have diminished our students’ attention span. All new research results have shown that an average student can concentrate up to seven minutes on one task. So how do you imagine to keep their attention for 45 minutes with just a frontal teaching approach, or traditional grammar drills, translation tasks, etc.? Eventually, after some time, students would stop paying attention, they would start talking, taking pictures, making videos, chatting with their friends and soon all hell breaks loose. Nobody likes when this happens; nobody likes to play the role of a policeman, investigator or a judge in class, although it is sometimes necessary.
Not only teachers have to deal with issues like this. Students’ parents face the same challenges; on top of which they do not have enough time to pay as much attention to their children as they would like to, due to their busy schedules and work-related issues. More and more parents are skipping teacher-parent meetings and have less and less time to see what their children are doing or learning at school. What they do have is some spare time, 10 minutes a day at least, to browse the Internet.
I ask again, what can we do to make our students, and their parents, pay more attention, and be more aware? The answer is to use the Internet to our advantage, and as our new means of communication with our students and their parents. That is the reason why I have decided to make this website. I decided to make it so I could help my students achieve goals that have been put in front of them by the school system and themselves; to introduce their parents with what their children have learnt and created at school, and give both parties information needed in order to become more productive and reliable.