Friday, October 05, 2012

How is Technology Changing Teaching?

A concern that often comes up in classes is the future of the teaching profession – how is technology changing it?  I have my theories based on what I read and what I see.  Clearly the most empirical evidence ever!  

But seriously, I think we are all clear that automated instruction is not the teacher of the future. Self-paced, solitary learning is not the answer to specialized instruction.  Instead of taking over the classroom, technology is just another tool for engagement.  You can choose to make it dance for you, or you can just keep banging your head on the wall . . . you choose.

I often share a dream/prediction with my classes that in the near future we will no longer call it blended learning.  We will just call it learning. I hope that the people who choose to use technology in their classroom can do so without obstacles and those that choose not to use technology don’t feel like they are crappy teachers. They are not. 

So, what will teaching look like in the near future - IMHO?  In many ways, there will be no change.  In more ways, there will be big, juicy changes – but I think you are going to like them. I also think that some of the more recent approaches to the classroom are going to help with teacher burn out. I recently read this article from The Journal.  It says so much of what I want to say.

Teachers are going to need more training for small group facilitation and individual tutoring than they are for whole class lesson planning.  Yep. They speak directly to this in the article. Facilitation is a great word.  Teachers are becoming more facilitators or managers of learning, a concierge if you will – which is much more appropriate than perpetuating the idea the teachers “teach” and that’s how we learn.  This notion assumes we drop knowledge into brains and voila!  The magic happens.

Teachers are going to need to change their idea of what is cheating. This is a world, now, where in mere seconds students can get all the information they want and they don’t need no stinkin’ teacher to get it. Thing is, they may have access to all the information, but do they know if it is good information? See . . . they need us. They really, really need us!

There’s more to this whole idea of what is cheating.  Teachers are going to need to change their definition of chaos. (Chaos, your "in-class name" will now be Collaboration and Construction. You can still wear your monogramed sweaters.) Students need practice taking on the many roles of group collaboration.  We can help them understand what those roles are so that they don’t flounder when put in a circle – they will know their job. This takes us back to knowing more about small group facilitation. 

Even our jobs on The Eighth Floor are changing.  Teachers don’t need us to teach you the points and clicks of technology so much anymore, sometimes, but not as much.  You have a growing technology literacy – the more you use it, the more and better you speak it or vice versa.  Scott, Linda, and I are making an effort to have a strong big picture skill set when it comes to technology. That’s not easy.  Technology is a kooky little mutating monster.  We have definitely had to become more specialized in the areas we teach.  We just can’t be all things to all types of technology integration. We have learned to collaborate by pulling on others’ strengths – some might call it cheating.

All teachers are going to need to be able to teach both online and fact-to-face. OOPS!  There, I said it. Remember – we won’t be calling it blended learning anymore.  It’s just learning.  It will be like saying all teachers will need to be able to teach in both the morning and the afternoon.  Both the good news and, for some, the bad news is that teaching online and F2F are not the same thing.  This is one area where we can really take a bite out of teacher burnout.  Variety. Options.  I’m telling you.  Teachers need to be stimulated and engaged, too.  

I can go on, but I won’t – right now.  It is exciting to see teachers getting excited about teaching when they take classes at The Eighth Floor.  When is that not the best job ever?

Just pontificatin’
Lee Anne

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