Recon­cep­tu­al­iz­ing the role of teach­ers in the dig­i­tal era


The Jakarta Post - Magazine - - Education - Se­tiono Sugi­harto) The writer is an as­so­ci­ate pro­fes­sor at Atma Jaya Catholic Univer­sity, Jakarta. He can be reached at se­tiono.sugi­

Dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy is in­vad­ing higher ed­u­ca­tion land­scapes, dra­mat­i­cally re­shap­ing how teach­ing and learn­ing in class­rooms need to be con­ducted. Also, it chal­lenges and con­fronts the very tra­di­tional per­spec­tives of ped­a­gogy. No less im­por­tant, the tech­no­log­i­cal invasion in­eluctably calls for ef­forts to de­fine com­pe­ten­cies re­quired to ef­fec­tively uti­lize dig­i­tal de­vices.

Clearly, ad­vance­ments in tech­nol­ogy and com­mu­ni­ca­tion com­pli­cate the tra­di­tional ped­a­gog­i­cal as­sump­tions pre­vi­ously thought to fit the learn­ing goals and teach­ing in­ter­ac­tions in class­room.

At the core of this is­sue is that schools must be pre­pared to face the emer­gence of the dig­i­tal era in ped­a­gogy, for it is hardly pos­si­ble today to deny the per­va­sive use of tech­nol­ogy in class­rooms. This pre­pared­ness not only takes the form of sup­ply­ing a wealth of high-tech de­vices in schools, but also of en­hanc­ing the pro­fes­sion­al­ism of teach­ers.

With the ubiq­uity of dig­i­tal de­vices in today’s schools, cling­ing to con­ven­tional arts of teach­ing like lec­tur­ing and group dis­cus­sion may no longer suf­fice, as much of what hap­pens in class­rooms is of­ten me­di­ated by tech­no­log­i­cal re­sources.

For ex­am­ple, teach­ing pre­sen­ta­tions can now be done with the aid of in-fo­cus pro­jec­tors; ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion in Power Point pre­sen­ta­tions can be dis­played in a split sec­ond; text con­struc­tions can be cre­ated by com­bin­ing voice, images, mu­sic, sound and film; and lit­er­acy learn­ing can be done by merg­ing lin­guis­tics texts with other semi­otic re­sources such as sym­bols, codes, images and emoti­cons.

With the per­va­sive­ness of tech­no­log­i­cal re­sources as me­di­a­tional de­vices, class­room teach­ers can­not as­sume that they play a sub­servient role to these dig­i­tal de­vices in help­ing stu­dents to reach their learn­ing goals.

On the con­trary, they ought to con­tin­u­ously en­cour­age stu­dents to de­velop a crit­i­cal aware­ness in deal­ing with dig­i­tal de­vices. Gerda K. Wanei, an ed­u­ca­tion coun­selor, says that given the ed­uca­tive and de­struc­tive sides of tech­nol­ogy, teach­ers’ con­trol over stu­dents’ use of dig­i­tal de­vices in class­rooms is vi­tal.

She adds that us­ing these de­vices to shape stu­dents’ char­ac­ters is far more im­por­tant than just broad­en­ing stu­dents‘ knowl­edge about tech­nol­ogy, em­pha­siz­ing that teach­ers not only play a role of fa­cil­i­ta­tor, but must also feel obliged to shape in­di­vid­ual stu­dents’ char­ac­ters.

This im­plies the need for the recon­cep­tu­al­iza­tion of a teacher’s role in the con­text of the dig­i­tal era. Ap­par­ently, dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies dra­mat­i­cally al­ter the way we so­cial­ize with each other, com­pelling us to mull ef­fec­tive strate­gies so as to man­age this so­cial­iza­tion bet­ter.

Thus, the tra­di­tional teacher-led class­room seems no longer ten­able in net­worked learn­ing vicini­ties where stu­dents have the abil­ity to use tech­nolo­gies de­vel­oped as a re­sult of their con­stant en­gage­ment with tech­nol­ogy out­side of school.

In such a tech­nol­ogy-wired learn­ing con­text, the best way to ex­er­cise con­trol over stu­dents is not to im­pose top-down in­struc­tion on the stu­dents, which might not be ef­fec­tive at all. This is be­cause in many cases stu­dents may sur­pris­ingly ex­hibit knowl­edge that is equal to or even savvier than their teach­ers.

On the face of it, a teacher - par­tic­i­pant- ob­server role seems to of­fer great ben­e­fits for as­sist­ing stu­dents in de­vel­op­ing their crit­i­cal aware­ness of cy­berspace. In this role, teach­ers are not sup­posed to to­tally aban­don the wis­dom of tra­di­tional meth­ods they pre­vi­ously used, and to blindly adopt strate­gies re­quired of the con­tem­po­rary dig­i­tal ped­a­gog­i­cal ap­proach.

What they do, in­stead, is to re-ex­am­ine and then re-ori­en­tate their pre­vi­ous per­spec­tives in light of the cur­rent ones, strik­ing a bal­ance of van­tage points that will serve stu­dents bet­ter and give them the right per­spec­tive.

Today’s stu­dents are part of a tech­no­log­i­cally-savvy gen­er­a­tion be­cause they have been brought up sur­rounded by tech­no­log­i­cal de­vices. This, how­ever, doesn’t mean that they are able to crit­i­cally re­flect on ev­ery sin­gle thing they spot and watch in cy­berspace.

Tak­ing a teacher-par­tic­i­pant-ob­server role en­ables a teacher to re­flect and en­gage crit­i­cally with stu­dents in as­sess­ing, for ex­am­ple, the bi­ases of in­for­ma­tion pro­vided by web pages, as well as the value, hid­den mean­ings and pol­i­tics of it.

More im­por­tantly, with the help of teach­ers, stu­dents can be made aware that dig­i­tal de­vices by no means pro­vide a panacea to ev­ery ped­a­gog­i­cal prob­lem they face. They serve only as a means, not an end in it­self. They func­tion only as an ob­ject to be ex­ploited for the best in­ter­ests of teach­ers and stu­dents and of ed­u­ca­tional aims in general, rather than a model to be un­crit­i­cally ad­hered to.

In essence, adopt­ing a crit­i­cal at­ti­tude to­ward the use of tech­nol­ogy is the key to un­der­stand­ing the real mean­ing of tech­nol­ogy and to in­cor­po­rat­ing it in teach­ing and learn­ing pur­poses. And, crit­i­cal at­ti­tudes nur­tured in school will al­ways be re­tained when stu­dents are faced with an amount of mis­in­for­ma­tion on the web out­side of school.(


Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Indonesia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.