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Short Bio: Steven Wesley is an ESL teacher, ed tech enthusiast and education blogger. He is interested in educational, technological and political issues and believes in the mighty power of the pen to change the modern world. Follow him on Twitter.
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Day by day, different aspects of our living are getting more digitalized. When we think of education, we no longer imagine students in a classroom, listening to their teacher. The first image that comes to our mind is a student with a tablet, looking for the information they need. Today, it’s not necessary to pay a huge amount of money to get educated. Every kind of knowledge is at the tip of our fingers. You want to learn more about the history of art? No problem! You can take a comprehensive online course and become a real expert if you’re committed enough.
However, there’s one serious question worthy of a consideration: is online education as effective as the one you get in a traditional classroom? In many ways, it can be. There is one particular issue that confuses online tutors: what about creativity? When the learners are not sharing the same space and are tied down to screens, can they be creative? It all depends on the tutor. It’s your own approach that can solve this serious drawback of online learning.
The Mission: How Online Tutors Can Make Students More Innovative
When someone is looking for a good tutor online, they are not only trying to gain dry knowledge. They want to improve many skills, including creative thinking. Let’s explore this concept. What do creative students do differently?
They express ideas others don’t think of.
They always have questions after a lecture. Those questions may seem off topic, but they are deeply connected with the coursework when you give them a consideration.
They can discuss facts, but they are always more excited about discussing ideas.
They enjoy flexibility in the way they express their understanding of the matter.
They enjoy working on open-ended projects.
When creative students find an online tutor who can make all this happen, they get the space they need for growth. But, how do you make all students creative? Your job is to turn average people into creative thinkers. There are few things you can do to encourage the development of the above-listed characteristics.
1. Present Relevant Materials
It doesn’t matter what you’re teaching. You may be helping students to understand math, literature, or any other area of study. All these niches are relevant for the time we live in, and you need to show how they are relevant.
If, for example, you are helping students to get through a history course, you don’t want to present the same materials they already have in their textbooks. You need to add a fresh perspective to make them think how history affected the way we live now. You can explore the fashion, mechanics, the way people travelled in those years… anything that will make them visualize the lectures. Needless to say, you’ll also provide visual materials, so you won’t be leaving things solely on their imagination.
Have your students complete a short survey on their interests outside the theme of your course. If some of them are interested in engineering, for example, you can find a way to relate facts from the lectures to their fields of interest. Then, ask them to think of other ways they can use that knowledge to understand engineering better. When you expand their vision, you’re encouraging creative thoughts.
2. Assign Open-Ended Projects
You know those standard projects where the student simply completes a task under the guidelines of the teacher? Those are the ones tutors should avoid, at least if they have a goal to make their learners more creative. With an open-ended project, you allow students to choose the type of assignment they want and express their knowledge and skills in a way that works for them.
You need to set only brief guidelines, such as the broad topic for them to explore. If, for example, you’re teaching literature, this can be your guideline: The Lord of the Flies. Some students will opt for a traditional book review. Others will explore the historical context of the plot. Some will tell you why they didn’t like the book at all. Some students might film a video of themselves talking about their impressions. Anything is possible with an open-ended project, since they will stretch their vision and step outside the box of traditional education.
When you assign open-ended projects, encourage your students to step away from traditional paper writing. Those skills are important too, but you can leave them for other projects. If they opt for a traditional paper, however, make sure to advise them to avoid writing services like EduGeeksClub.com or BestDissertation.com. They won’t improve their creative thinking skills if they simply buy papers online. If you notice that some of your students are struggling with these projects, help them! Work with them and bring academic writing closer to their understanding. It’s the kind of training they don’t get at school, so your role as a tutor will be more important than ever.
3. Have a Reward System
You don’t want your students to be competing for better grades when you encourage them to be creative. You want creativity to be the reward! Thus, you need to think of a different way to grade these projects, which won’t involve points and grades. For example, you can give out coupons for online courses to the students who perform better. You can publish a student’s project online and share the work with a wide audience as a reward. If you’re dealing with younger students, the rewards can be inexpensive toys.
Leadership is also a good reward. When you see someone performing well, you can give them the right to choose the next lecture or assignment. They will take that responsibility very seriously, and they will try to think of a creative topic that will still be connected with the course.
It doesn’t matter what you’re teaching; sparking the student’s creativity is every tutor’s responsibility. You need to recognize the potential of your students and encourage them to explore new ways of learning and sharing information. Hopefully, the tips provided above will prepare you for a good start.