When I went to school, it was common place for a teacher to place a text book in front of a set of students and offer the simple yet daunting line ‘copy that.’ For me, lessons seemed to drag so much that I wasn’t engaged in the subject material. This problem has been addressed through the use of technology in the classroom. But how well these technology tools will be integrated into the learning process rests mostly on the shoulders of the teachers.

When talking about 21st century learning, there’s one critical component that ties the concept together: Technology. It is technology in its many forms that is driving innovation, changing the way that students think and, as a result, changing the way that teachers teach. Teachers need to take a different approach to education in order to accommodate the needs of 21st century students.

Making use of technology to allow students the freedom to discover solutions to problems both independently and collaboratively is a force for good but I will not pretend that technology is the panacea… but just like how you have to use the mobile phone we are saying to teachers and all facilitators, our learners are curious and adventurous so how do we harness all of that in the education process?

Technology isn’t just helping students evolve.  It’s also changing the role of teachers in the classroom. Teachers who do not adapt to the demands of the new technology-driven classroom will become a relic of the past as much as textbooks. Non-tech learning is about absorbing knowledge. Learning with technology is about discovering and using knowledge and therefore 21st  century teachers need to master certain skills that educators in the past never even had to consider.

 

So, what exactly is the role of the 21st century teacher?

Coaching and Support.

In a classroom without any technology, a lecture is an effective form of conveying information. But with technology, teachers are most effective when they guide digital reading, exploration and small group discussions. This means more coaching and support, and less dictating. Teachers are no longer data presenters but data synthesizers.

Collaborators
In addition to being good communicators, 21st  century teachers must also be willing to collaborate with students in ways they haven’t before. Use of technology gives teachers the opportunity to work with students in small groups, giving them more one-on-one attention and encouraging them to actively engage in the learning process.

Facilitators

One major way that teaching has changed in the 21st century is that teachers have become facilitators of learning. In other words, they help students discover knowledge on their own, rather than simply imparting it. This places students in an active role and keeps them engaged and interested in a world that is rapidly changing.

Communicators

While teachers have always needed to communicate with students, the way in which they do so has evolved over time. Rather than standing in front of a classroom and talking about important concepts, they are now encouraging dialogue – allowing students to question what they are learning and to think critically. This new approach to communication stimulates more direct interaction with students.

Adaptive
Like the adaptive learning technologies that many schools now use, teachers, too, must learn to adapt. 21st century education is not one-size-fits-all. In fact, having the ability to tweak curriculum, change lesson plans or open up discussions depending upon the needs and interests of students can help teachers become partners in the learning process, rather than wholly separate entities.

Technology cannot and never will replace teachers in the classroom. The complex process of learning can never be reduced to a series of algorithms. Human interaction – teachers are crucial, but now they need to give students what technology can’t—motivation, respect, empathy, and passion.”

I believe that it is every teacher’s desire that their students engage with a subject beyond a superficial level. They want them to be active learners, learners who have a thirst for discovery and knowledge.  While some individuals are of the opinion that older teachers would have a difficult time in adapting to technology, experience has shown that it is “not so much about age level, it’s about person’s interest and personality” and therefore today more than ever, professional development for teachers is vital.

Rethinking Teacher Roles in the Technology Era

Leave a comment