Thursday, August 11, 2011

Why Digital Learning will Liberate Teachers

This from EducationNext:

Teachers will be critical to our nation’s future in a world of digital learning. Of course, teachers’ jobs will also be quite different from the way they look today—and if we do this right, they should not just be different, but they should also be a whole lot better, as it liberates them in many exciting ways...

[T]here are a lot of demands made of teachers—bolstering student learning being the overriding one, but there’s a lot of administrative asks that go along with the job, too. And in the construct of today’s monolithic system with its limiting notion of factory-modeled classrooms with batches of students, there just isn’t the time or ability for most teachers to differentiate instruction meaningfully or respond to data, let alone enhance and extend the curriculum, spend significant chunks of time working in small groups or one-on-one with students who are struggling or need enrichment, and so forth. In other words, they can’t really focus on facilitating actual learning. In what is an incredibly noble field in which adults try to make a meaningful difference in the lives of their students, today’s system works against them doing so at every twist and turn.

In a world where digital learning becomes the platform for our education system, however, this whole notion should turn around. In a time-variable, learning constant competency-based (or mastery-based) system, much as the type Sal Khan has talked about, a teacher’s job will be richly rewarding around these types of activities...

[A]s software increasingly handles direct instruction, this will create big opportunities for teachers to facilitate rich and rewarding project-based learning experiences for their students to apply their learning into different contexts and gain meaningful work in the so-called 21st-century skills. And as software increasingly simplifies administrative tasks ...there will be significantly more time for teachers to work in the ways that motivated many of them to enter teaching originally—to work one-on-one and in small groups with students on the problems where they are in fact struggling...

The bottom line? Digital learning should liberate teachers’ lives by making the opportunities for success far more frequent, and the opportunities for teachers to pursue what they like and their passions about the teaching profession far more possible. And for those that have liked doing some of everything—there probably will continue to be a fair amount of that, too.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Digital Learning certainly offers many benefits, but like a pencil or ruler, it is just an instrument which has potential for support of the student. I think if one were to look at technologic advances and their impact on teacher workloads, it becomes clear that with the potential for instructional advances with these devises come reciprocal increased tasks and higher order expectations which in the end do not "liberate" the teacher but rather place higher demands upon them.

Richard Day said...

Good point.