Re­think­ing Teacher Roles in the Tech­nol­ogy Era

The Jakarta Post - Magazine - - Education Supplement - Khush­nawaz Have­wala Fer­nan­des CON­TRIB­U­TOR The writer is a teacher at Gandhi Me­mo­rial In­ter­con­ti­nen­tal School (GMIS) Jakarta

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.


JP/ Jerry Adi­guna

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