Rethinking Teacher Roles in the Technology Era
Digital literacy skills such as information literacy, media literacy and information and communication technologies (ICT) literacy are essential 21st century skills that every student should have. According to the well-known American writer and speaker, Marc Prensky, 21st century students are called “digital natives” — they are intimately familiar with the virtual space far before they are comfortably acquainted with the real world.
We, the adults, on the other hand, are labeled “digital immigrants” — we are the ones who weren’t introduced to technology at an early time in our lives and may often struggle to get the hang of the ever-evolving technological realm. As a result there is often a chasm, a great divide, between the digitally apt and adaptive learners and their inflexible teachers. To keep up with the swiftly upgrading innovative times, we as teachers need to discard every inhibition or hesitation we may possess and choose to employ and merge technology into our curriculum.
The International Society for Technology in Education states that such “effective integration of technology is achieved when students are able to select technological tools to help them hemobtain obtain information in a timely manner, analyze and synthesize the information, and present it professionally. The technology should become an integral part of how the classroom functions -- as accessible as all other classroom tools.”
Adoption of such incredible technology as is so readily (and often freely) available can be in the very content studied by our students, the process of teaching and learning implemented in our classes, or even the assessment of our students’ learning achievements and outcomes. This will not only add more resources to our teaching toolbox but will also help us to bond with the digital natives present in our classrooms. For the students, these experiences provide them a means to build a deeper understanding of their knowledge and skills.
For the teachers, technologyte can be used to support their curriculumcu and help their students meet their learning objectives for each year. To achieve this, teachers can be trained by other teachers already proficient in the use of educational technology and also by their students themselves (this can actually turn into a great bonding experience for both parties).
As a result, teachers need to build expertise in technology integration and use it not to instruct but to facilitate education. Student-centered learning is the way of the future, technology is the vehicle and facilitators have to be the roadmaps. They need to guide their students to facilitate the acquisition of long-term, authentic and inter-disciplinary knowledge, and combining subject matter expertise with technological products and services will help them do so better and faster.
At the same time, however, it is essential that all students who engage in such digital practices should be responsible digital citizens; they should be made aware of the accountability they have for their own education and be well-informed practitioners of the ethical and honest use of the technology made available to them for their learning. A few types of technology integration in education that facilitators can use include: Online and/or blended learning Using technology in projects and group activities Game-based learning Learning with personal, portable devices (phones or tablets) Using interactive whiteboards Internet-based research Student-created digital media Social media integration Apps for online collaboration Tools for online conversation and communication. Using skill-specific apps for skill development Given that all students have a specific learning style (or combination of styles), their own interests and a certain level of prior knowledge on and “readiness” in a discipline, placing content (i.e. subjects) before them in a language they can understand (technology) will increase their productivity considerably and visibly. Using any of these or any of the many other resources available thanks to the worldwide web, facilitators can create an engaging educational experience for everyone.
While it is heartening to see so many facilitators and students the world over engage in meaningful teaching and learning using 21st century tools, one can wonder how long it will take for all the private and public schools to come to terms with and become members of the digital evolution, or if it is even possible in such magnitude - though one can of course be hopeful.
It seems to be as difficult as it appears to be easy, as there are many stakeholders involved when it comes to education in this place, in this time, and the willingness to embrace and employ such radical changes is a crucial and urgent requirement. Unless and until facilitators and school leaders do not support and exhibit this change, the aforementioned generation gap will, sadly, grow wider. We need to make sure that there is never a time in the future when our children will balk at the idea of going to school entirely as they do not want to be around adults who just don’t “get” them.