Having been in ELT for the last 30 years, provides a view of how things have changed in a developing country, where access to internet and up-to-date devices is not in everyone's thought.
As per my experience, there used to be a clear division between the capital city and the rest of the country, now division is between places with access to internet and those without, which sets a difference in many ways.
Being a professional practitioner, today I see my main role as a facilitator and a leader of learning which includes almost as a tautology online education in our role as global citizens. We are in our communities, but also we think regionally and we know we are part of the bigger picture, hence, as ELT professional we bring these concepts to the classrooms. In some schools and language institutes, the use of this area is compulsory –as it should be in 2017. And yet, as a teacher trainer I have found many reluctant teachers who may feel exposed in front of a classroom of digital natives.
In April 2017 I attended an international forum “Research as a career” where the Head of a prestigious university, Dr.Pavlich expressed that A teacher and/or University professor that is not in synch with millennials ought to be thinking about a change of career.
Therefore, this is a time to reflect with reflexibility: it is what it is. Changes happen and we need to keep up with them. If we feel that our very own digital literacies are in need of improvement, then, it is a matter of brushing them up. If we have access to internet, then knowledge is just a click away. (Of course, provided we use wisely online resources). There are MOOCs, many of them are free to register, if one if after the certificate, an extra cost is involved –this is true- however, if not the course itself and its content. Places like FutureLearn, EdX, Coursera, Open2study just to name a few… there is so much offer.
I have noticed, I am thinking, once again as a capital city person, where WiFi is available almost everywhere with decent connection (speed), so, it is only fair to take that hat off and think of all those without that privilege. In my job as a trainer, I do have access to teachers who live and teach in rural areas –in this part of the world there are up to 4 categories depending how far away these places are-, with little access to a landline, sometimes one can get mobile signal to get&make calls but no internet access … then, school children, young people, teachers amongst the rest live in a different world. Having that in mind, there is a unique national curriculum all schools have to follow and this includes digital literacy because we are in the 21st century.
Back to how to help our learners: first, I would say, it is a matter of attitude. In the words of G.Highet “Wherever there are beginners and experts, old and young, there is some kind of learning going on, some kind of teaching. We are all pupils and we are all teachers” --- Having THIS in mind, changes our perspective immediately. We, as teachers, are there for them but it is a two-way street, especially when we talk about the digital world we are living in now. We help them but we should also let them help us: and that is ok, moreover it is to be fostered in the classroom –in my view. Our role is then to facilitate their learning process and assist our classroom towards their very own learning autonomy. Last thought … there is so much in the virtual world, hence our guidance and experience is important and matters!
This is Patty from Perú, signing off for now, looking forward to reading your posts and hearing from you ... wherever you may be. =)