April 17, 2017
A hypothetical Digital Media Mentor role would address the need to stay abreast technology trends and ongoing coaching in technology for students and staff.

Designing New Educator Roles in a Re-bundled System: Digital Media Mentor

The learning ecosystem is expanding, and as it expands our system of education is being rebundled.  School walls are becoming increasingly porous, informal learning is becoming increasingly vital, and learners are seeking out learning and supports in ever-changing ways.

This expansion and rebundling are creating a need for educators and other adults working with children and youth to develop new skill sets and for educator roles to expand and diversify to include positions and functions beyond traditional roles. We can think of this shift as one from traditional teacher, administrative, and support roles to a wider range of learning agent roles reflecting the contributions of many adults who might contribute to a learner’s learning journey in a rebundled education system.

At the KnowledgeWorks Experience Conference, I had the pleasure of exploring the potential for future educator roles with educators during my session, “Exploring and Surfacing New Roles in a Rebundled System.” During the session, we worked together to prototype a new educator role that leveraged several trends affecting the future of learning and responded to needs that participants’ identified in their schools and districts. We called this role a Digital Media Mentor.

Wanted: Digital Media Mentor

The Digital Media Mentor position responds to technology acceleration; an increase in the number of students and staff who are bringing their own digital devices into the classroom; and the emergence of phenomena, such as fake news, which are calling into question current digital literacy strategies and responding to the increased role of digital devices both in education and our daily lives. The Digital Media Mentor role also addresses needs highlighted by participants, including the need to stay abreast of the latest technologies and the need for ongoing coaching in technology use for students and staff.

As session participants conceived of it, the Digital Media Mentor would be a full-time position. It would focus on coaching both students and staff members on best practices for using technology for learning and on educating learners and staff on digital literacy strategies. When not working with learners and staff, the Digital Media Mentor would research emerging technologies and consider ways they might be utilized for learning.

Depending on school size, the Digital Media Mentor might work with just one school or might move from school to school within a district. Participants thought that the ideal background for the role would be a strong background in technology, including experience across a wide variety of technology platforms; and a teacher’s license, with a sociology background preferred. The ideal candidate would have also have spent formal time in a classroom.

I found it interesting to design a new learning agent role alongside educators currently working in the field. When I asked about the difference between this role and the role of a typical IT person, one audience member remarked that this role was a sort of “integrator.” The Digital Media Mentor would seek out new technologies to introduce to the classroom and would develop strategies to integrate them; while IT staff might do the same, they are also tasked with keeping the school or district’s IT infrastructure running.

What’s Your Role?

What type of new roles do you think a rebundled education system might need? Perhaps it is something like the Digital Media Mentor, or maybe it is something else entirely? If you are interested in what types of new roles might be possible in the future, or how existing roles might diversify, I invite you to check out VibrantEd.org to view just a few possibilities for future educator roles. While you are there, make sure to take the career quiz to see what your future role might be.

Jason Swanson

Written by: Jason Swanson

Jason Swanson is the Director of Strategic Foresight at KnowledgeWorks. He has a strong passion for studying the future and believes that studying the future is empowering.

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