96 percent of teachers and 92 percent of parents believe integration of technology in teaching and learning is important to the education of American students. This surprising – (but worth a hallelujah) – finding was revealed in a poll released by the LEAD Commission last week. This overwhelming support for technology should silence the naysayers of digital learning and especially the troublemakers that claim digital instruction is out to take over teacher jobs. Whether it’s a blended learning environment, bring your own device initiatives, or virtual schools, clearly most agree that leveraging technology to provide a more personalized education is a good thing.
There is no doubt that technology has, and will continue to, cause a wave of restructuring for the education industry. But instead of seeing it as a threat to the teaching profession, let’s recognize technology’s potential to empower teachers – to raise the expectations of what a teacher must know how to do in order to prepare the next generation of students with deeper learning skills.
Certainly, this will mean a major shift for some teachers and their roles in schools. Given that many teachers may no longer be the chief disseminator of knowledge, what might some of these new roles look like? In the Alliance for Excellent Education’s new issue brief, Culture Shift: Teaching in a Learner-Centered Environment Powered by Digital Learning, Mary Ann Wolf lays out a list of new teaching roles:
1) Facilitator of Learning
2) User of Data and Assessments
3) Contributor and Coach with Peers
4) Curriculum Adaptor and Designer
As we begin to see these roles become more prominent in schools throughout the country, it makes sense to ask the question, “What’s next?” KnowledgeWorks’ most recent future forecast, the 2020 Forecast: Creating the Future of Learning, studied trends from other industries to give us a glimpse of what those future roles might entail. Imagine a learning environment where teachers must also adapt to roles like a Learning Fitness Instructor who helps build and strengthen basic cognitive skills, an Edu-vator charged with exploring innovations in the edu-sphere, and a Community Intelligence Cartographer helping learners identify educational opportunities within their community.
Instead of indulging in arguments that pit the teacher vs. the iPad, let’s instead think about how to restructure an education system that empowers our teachers to master the wide range of roles necessary for a truly personalized learning environment. We need to give them the opportunities to master new competencies, the paycheck to make it worth their time, and a voice as co-creator of an evolving system where everyone – teachers and students- takes personal responsibility for their learning.