A few days ago, I found an image that depicted the many ways educators can use ICT to engage and challenge their learners. I decided to create a similar graphic, but I used images of people interacting with various technologies instead of the spheres in the original. This is the image I created:
Are you keeping up? If you're teaching face-to-face, do you show YouTube videos in class? Do you ask your learners to collaboratively solve a problem using a smart-board? Do you exchange texts or bring in guest speakers via video conferencing? Elicit comments through clickers or smartphones? If you're not doing all or most of the above, you should be. In but a few more years, what we now consider blended learning (classroom based + ICT) will become the standard. Today's learners want to be educated using the tools they use every day. Learners have become consumers of educational goods - if we don't supply them with the tools and experiences they're looking for - they'll simply take their business elsewhere.
If you teach online, are you using the technologies available to you? Do you use web conferencing in a collaborative way, or are you replicating the sage on the stage electronically? In one of our portfolio classes, we ask the students to create an electronic portfolio, then present it to their classmates and the instructor live through our web conferencing platform. If you're on a smaller budget, you can accomplish the same thing with Skype. Social media sites are a great place to post lesson plans and assignments. Twitter is a great way to keep in touch. No longer should interactions in an online class be relegated to the (asynchronous) discussion forum or course email. Use the technologies available to you to reach out and interact with your learners - in a way that they're accustomed to.
(Or you'll lose them)