Digital media and shared accessibility of gadgets allow teachers and curriculum designers to be as innovative as possible because they get assigned different tasks and classroom exercises/activities which tend to engage students to an extent far greater than days gone by when we only had textbooks and teachers to tell stories and instruct.
Today’s educational system has evolved greatly and relies massively on technological advancements. Students on the receiving end are millennials with a very short attention span and a rather low threshold for boredom too.
Hence in order to get the best out of them, and to provide them with the finest opportunities of effective learning, updated information is nowadays disseminated through a varying set of modes – attractive slide presentations that present hard and dry facts and stats in a more easy to swallow form, tutorial videos, probing polls, exciting lab exercises, on-spot researchers and so many other facilities depending on the subject and the teacher’s skill-set.
Thus, the main question that arises is how we can use the internet as a tool which can be recommended to a teacher to help make classroom activities more productive and interesting.
Needless to say, the prerequisite for any such endeavor would be a reliable internet connection. I have been teaching for almost two years now, and know quite well as a teacher or instructor you require tons of research to help prepare a lecture or notes, even to verify facts or find inspiration for making PPT presentations. I have been greatly relying on spectrum internet plans and have never been let down by my choice in this regard. So I would say to all teachers/instructors out there don’t forget to choose your internet connection wisely for this is an integral part of your journey and will help you with everything that you need before stepping into the classroom.
I am listing some ideas here about incorporating the advantages of the internet into your teaching/instructing effort in order to make the classroom environment more interactive:
1. Use Online Sign-Ups
There are numerous online platforms, which can be utilized at various occasions, particularly when students are assigned presentations – they could sign up for pertinent digital forums for a convenient flow of updated information, holding discussions and sharing any academic concerns. Using modern day technology, they can share class calendars online or any other useful links, and plan presentations all on one platform.
Online groups on Facebook or WhatsApp can also serve the same purpose. Such methods of instruction make my students usually happy particularly because it gives them an opportunity to complete the assignment(s) in their own time and everything seems to occur in real-time.
2. Base Assignments on Technology-Focused Subjects
Even if they have to pitch or develop an idea or write a report or submit any sort of assignment, the assigned topics must be such the quest takes them to seek assistance from modern technology and the digital world. If you do this, they will learn to use the internet in the most productive manner and in due course, this would help develop their thinking patterns.
It will also enable them to stay constantly updated about digital media trends and the workings of the digital industry. You never know, one day they might pitch or develop an idea which eventually turns out to be something revolutionary and ends up getting worldwide recognition.
3. Offer Open-Ended Projects
Give your students options by allocating them internet based projects that somehow or at some point incorporate digital media such as designing logos, writing content, putting together eBooks, generating new and innovative artwork, composing and creating melodies, producing multimedia just to mention a few. Besides, there can be unlimited other ideas with countless variations if you play around creatively.
4. Set up Student Blogs
Encourage your students to make their own blogs. Simply assign this as a task or you could train them to create a blog of their choice – this could become a source of learning content management for them and also teach them how to showcase their talents or crafts to the world. I am sure, everyone has something to share or express regardless of the type of information.
Maintaining a blog could open new horizons for them in terms of ideas and generating online content of varied nature to keep that blog active. The same goes for marketing and monetizing the blog. Hence a blog could, in fact, work as the seed which if taken care of thoroughly will continue to instruct your students in a variety of fields related to website and content management.
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5. Gather Students Feedback
Thanks to the internet, now in a matter of a few minutes, we are able to create forms and polls using online applications such as Socrative, Google Forms, SurveyMonkey or Poll Everywhere, which can also be circulated and shared in a click because they come equipped with all the necessary sharing options. Such options could be utilized for any number of reasons – literally anything – for something official or for the purpose of collecting general feedback about the class, or any other task based on voting or necessitating a general consensus or one that simply requires forms.
6. Use Twitter Hashtags to Take Questions
From our President’s tweets to any from a social group, social media trends are the thing of the present day worthy enough to be discussed not just online but in the personal conversation too. As a teacher or instructor, no matter which subjects you are dealing with, you can refer to some general examples from the internet and employ famous tweets for generating insightful class discussions related to your particular subject – doing so will undoubtedly prompt your students to embark on an online research journey that would only serve to empower them further.
7. Share an Online Class Calendar
We all have Google calendar and I am sure there must be more online options to cater to this need. You can utilize and play around such options by creating and sharing weekly, monthly or even semester wise activities, tasks or whatever is on the list that needs to get done along with respective deadlines.
Through having access to online sheets and calendar, students are likely to remain more vigilant and their performance, on the whole, would therefore improve.
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8. Add Multimedia Elements to Presentations
It is now known plain text-based slideshow presentations, which are only made up of text, can lose students’ interest thereby causing a disconnect. In order to avoid that, you should add multimedia elements to your class presentations.
Delivering content through audio/visual media tends to effectively engage a shorter attention span. When possible and wherever applicable, you should also try to incorporate images, Graphs, Pictographs, Podcast clips, Sound effects, Short video lessons, News, movie and television show clips, etc. This is how students will learn to productively and constructively use the internet in their leisure time.
The bottom line is:
Even the arid subjects such as history, finance, and accounts, still dependent on textbooks and notes, as well as subjects such as creative content writing and fine arts, can be made interesting with the help of internet and all the digital tools we have today. There are now various apps that are being incorporated in the teaching of such subjects so as to make instruction and learning more hands-on.
And, fortunately, or unfortunately, no matter how good a student is at drawing, pitching novel ideas, accounting or finance, the market would expect them to be proficient enough with the latest related software as well. Therefore, in order to prepare them for the market, modern technology must play a role in the class and tasks that are assigned must incorporate contemporary technology to enhance digital know-how.
A good speaker should know how to present their ideas visually, and a person who is exceptionally good at accounts should be equally good at Microsoft Excel, Quickbooks, and the rest of supporting software, so he/she can translate his/her expertise into real-time accomplishment. Additionally, for kids in junior high or even younger than that, it may be beneficial to set up online activities, use videos for mini-lessons or preview field trips virtually.
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