The following interview is part of an interview series in which we feature education professionals from a variety of different fields in order to highlight individual efforts and creative solutions to education in the 21st century. If you want to participate simply write down and send your answers to the five below questions to info {at} learnoutlive.com and include a picture of yourself. (Please note that we reserve the right to not publish all submissions)

1. Who are you and what do you do in education?

My name is Dave. I am an independent English teacher who uses Skype to deliver online lessons to students and pupils of different ages. Most of my students are Russians, and this is because I have plenty of experience working ‘on the ground’ in Moscow. I have a website which actively promotes my services on both English and Russian platforms. I publish all my lesson plans, quizzes, grammar explanations and youtube videos on the site, and I am looking for other teachers who enjoy doing the same and would like to collaborate on some joint projects.

 

2. Describe a typical work day in your life!

I get up at half past seven and make myself a very very strong coffee. Lessons start at 8 am and usually finish at 11am. Then I send off all the homework as well as lesson feedback documents to the students, and prepare myself for the second shift which usually starts at 2pm and finishes at 7pm. I will often have an hour break somewhere because someone is on a business trip or holiday, or some other appointment. During my breaks I usually send homework and make youtube videos or lessons to put on the website. They are very useful because I set them as homework for the students. So, I always have a massive amount of material to use with any new students, and that material is available to everyone for free download on my site. After finishing all lessons, I quickly send off any invoices which are necessary, and then spend the evening reading to my daughter. The only problem with this work is that at the end of the day I have no voice left to read a story to her! This is why I insist on the student doing the majority of the talking in each class!

 

3. In what way has technology in general and the net in particular changed your work?

Technology has changed my working life in a massive way. Just 2 years ago I was still in Moscow, commuting as much as 4 hours every day, and planning ALL my lessons with just pen and paper. Everything ended up in the bin. Now I don’t commute, and everything that I plan is saved, edited and then added to my website. It’s such an advantage to have all that you have ever planned, organised into a special place on your own website. And it’s certainly more convenient, for both myself AND the student, to have no journey to lessons. So technology has made the whole learning process easier for both parties.
The net has changed the way I conduct my lessons. I now place a much heavier emphasis on listening exercises for homework. Working online has opened my eyes to video sharing platforms like youtube or smotri.ru which enable the student to watch some classic TV shows for free and at home. With such easy and free access to great listening material (dialogue in TV shows is both realistic and engaging) it is a shame not to use it. So now I write grammar, vocabulary and comprehension questions for popular TV shows, like ‘The IT Crowd’ and ‘Sherlock Holmes’, so that my students can download the material and use it for homework. During the class students will often speak to me about the show and repeat a lot of the material for maximum retention. In addition to the lesson plans, I love making my own youtube videos for both vocabulary and grammar explanations. It is certainly an advantage to have your grammar explanations on youtube. The student always comes to the lesson with your explanation already in his mind, and so is already prepared for the difficulties.

 

4. What challenges do you see for education in the future?

Online schools will face competition from independent teachers setting up their own websites. It is getting easier and easier for people with no technical knowledge (or HTML knowledge) to set up their own websites. And it is also rather cheap. And lastly, it is easy for any teacher who is producing new materials to get online attention. They need only publish their materials in the right groups on facebook, livejournal, youtube, myspace etc… and they will pick up a following. I see this as a positive step forward, as often private teachers offer higher quality services and at more reasonable prices.

The main challenge for teachers and students is keeping up with the new software and tools available for enhancing the learning process. There are so many new teaching platforms and programs that it is hard to try them all out and see which ones suit your methods. Also, there are so many free resources out there in cyberspace. The challenge is to use such a vast amount effectively. Again, I see this as an advantage. There is such a wide selection available you will be sure to find something which will interest the student.

 

5. Where can we find you online?

I can be found on facebook, youtube, vk.com, squidoo, linkedin, quizbiz, Skype and on my own website

Skype name = davetefl

www.skype-lessons.com/lang-en/

Dave Nicholls: Technology has changed my working life in a massive way

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