I came across this video a couple of months ago and haven’t stopped thinking about it or recommending it to people. It makes a very compelling case for using Web 2.0 technologies to allow students to construct their own knowledge. This would change the role of the teacher from keeper of knowledge to facillitator of learning.
In particular, I’ve been thinking about how these ideas could apply to my grammar classes. I often teach advanced grammar to ESL students with a wide range of abilities (our students are placed into levels based on aggregate scores, not into each class). In general, I present new material and then vary their homework activities based on their ability. But what if there were a better way?
The materials I typically present in class could be put online (with my voiceover explanations, animations to illustrate key points, etc.) and students could watch the presentations at home. The could then come to class prepared, ask whatever questions they had, and then we could do the “howework activities” in class. Wouldn’t I, as a teacher, be more helpful to them while they were trying to use what they had learned?
My presentation could become a part of what they used to study a particular grammatical structure. They could supplement this with other online resources they find (and are probably already using) and share them with the class via online courseware. So, some students could learn from stories that include highly contextualized examples of the structure while others could examine charts and tables if that was their preference. It’s easy to see how this process would enable students to learn in ways that matched their learning styles.
Will it work? I’ve tried elements of this approach and one of the biggest hurdles seems to be the reaction from students that the teacher isn’t “teaching.” If we can get past this issue, we might really be able to run with it.