A teacher's role has significantly changed through the years with the emergence of technology. Electronic devices connected to the Internet exist everywhere and are used for a variety of tasks, from the most trivial ones to the most complicated. And of course the classroom could not be an exception to this reality. Our students learn how to use tablets, computers and smartphones from a very young age and they cannot imagine their everyday lives without these devices. This had as a result new responsibilities for the teachers such as showing students how to use these devices to learn new things and not just for leisure and how to use language properly. A difficult task a lot of times because many teachers were not born in a digital environment but they have to learn how to find their way around.
So how can teachers help their learners develop their digital literacy skills and how to use the language in a socially appropriate way? First of all, the classroom should be equipped with computers or tablets or if this is not possible teachers can ask students to bring their own devices. Students should be instructed how to log in to sites, how to surf the Internet with safety, what to avoid and warn them of the dangers of the digital world. They should also be taught some appropriate vocabulary to understand the technical terminology they come across. Teachers should find sites and apps that include language development exercises and interactive ways of presenting the language with videos or cartoons such as the ones found on the British Council site. In some sites students can create accounts and keep a record of their progress and achievements and teachers can also be informed about how their class did in an activity. This is very useful because this way students take the activities they have to do more seriously. It is very important to use technology as a means to an end, such as teach language, and not let students do online exercises having no idea of why they are doing this. That is why they should be given explanations beforehand. A very useful idea is for teachers to create a class blog where students can post their projects or even create a close and hidden Facebook group where they can exchange opinions and ideas and they can watch educational material posted by the teacher. It is extremely important though to stress that all these should be done with respect of other people's opinions and different point of views and that all discussions should be about the educational point discussed. Having been taught the technical vocabulary from the start and following the rules of propriety in their interactions will help them understand the social norms of online communication and prepare them for a life skill they will need in real life.
The Internet offers so many tools to use to create a unique learning experience in almost every lesson but only if you know how to utilise these tools and how to adjust them in your own learning situation. Personally, I have a love for technology and I try to keep up with the technological advancements and the new tools created all the time. But I was wondering how can I use all these stuff? How can I make them relevant to my teaching and most importantly do it in a way where students will learn and not feel like we are wasting our time. The answer came from the Internet itself since in my country (Greece) technology is not so widely used in teaching. But on the Internet I found a plethora of information, activities and brilliant people who had amazing ideas of how to devise and use online activities. Big educational organizations also have created fantastic sites full of ready-to-use materials. For a long time I studied them as much as I could always asking myself how I could use them. I found videos that explained everything and some years ago some online courses that have really opened my eyes to the infinite benefits of using technology into teaching. So in a way it is kind of where there is a will there is a way situation and not something impossible.
To sum up, technology is here to stay. It is the future and one of the most important tools offered to teachers. It can help us create not just lessons but experiences which will stay with our students for a long time. It is our job to make it part of our teaching practices and prepare students for the future. To do that, we must learn ourselves how to use it, learn the jargon and be comfortable with it. I believe that we should grab every opportunity provided to us and look on the web to find different resources. It is definitely worth the time and the trouble as I can infer from my students reactions after each lesson we have. So all teachers just take this extra step because the rewards are so many for our learners.