Sunday, November 9, 2008

What becomes of the teacher? New roles for educators

There were no ‘set’ readings for this week’s topic.  Was this because “This is a heavy assignment week” or is it an attempt to get participants to research and discover their own learnings – ie apply a Connectivismistic approach to the course?  Either way, I felt I needed to do ‘something’ towards this topic, and as I’m not an active member in the course through the discussion forums or the live sessions, finding my own reading was where I’ve headed. 

So what is the role of the ‘teacher’ in Connectivism?

There is a lot of lip service given to creating more ‘learner centred’ experiences, where the ‘teacher’ becomes the ‘guide on the side’ rather than the ‘sage on the stage’, and how technology can support this type of learning.

But what does it actually mean to the ‘teacher’ – how do move from being a ‘teacher’ to being a true facilitator of learning?  What’s required if we are to see a major shift in the teaching and learning paradigm?

It is recognized, that technology-enhanced learning (TEL), and individual-centred learning is more chaotic and the learning process takes longer.  Teachers also work in a system whereby the learning process is often overshadowed by the actual outcome, and they’re expected to meet the requirements of standardized testing, like the NAPLAN

Is it that teachers don’t have the skills or attitudes required, when it is “clear that there is a gap in experience, expectations and technical experience between many young people and their teachers and administrators” (Light & Luckin, 2008)

Involving the learner in their learning design process will require that teachers/facilitators will need to better understand ‘learner motivation’ (D’Mello and Graesser 2007), and develop systems and environments which support learners’ help seeking behaviours. (Aleven et al 2004)

And, is individual centred learning appropriate for all forms of learning? How can specific technical skills, such as building and construction, be developed via the internet/use of technology.  Or is Connectivism more appropriate for the more ‘generic’ skills, ie communication, problem solving etc.

Does learner centred learning foster ‘individualism’ at the determent of the group or the community ie as individuals seeks to meet their own individual needs?

Marie Montessori developed a learning system over a century ago which is about guiding the learner through their own natural learning experiences, however, Montessori education is anything but mainstream, and is only gathering some momentum in the ‘pre-school’ arena.

We recognize that web 2.0 environments enable wider user-generated content but how do we help break down the traditional top-down hierarchical model of education, whilst ensuring equity, power balances, democracy, culture, privacy and how might we ensure that TEL can improve learning for all.

The potential for learners to have a greater voice in their learning, the resources they access, including the technologies, and the nature of the physical or virtual environment in which they learn, is central to the considerations of the 21st century ‘educator’.

1 comment:

SidMor said...

I've been shadowing this CCK08 course, a somewhat overwhelming source of stimulation, and have come across several of your blogs that caught my attention. I figured this time I'd jump in. I'm curious what you think of the SelfDesign initiative based on Brent Cameron's work in B.C. over the past 25 years, and now embodied in a global offering SelfDesignGlobal
They call their people learning consultants who provide fee-based one-on-one guidance along the learner's self-directed path. It seems many approaches like this claim a denser component of individual attention, whether they are straight traditional coursework via LMS or this more learner-centered design. Almost all of the higher education related sites I have visited from CCK08 prompts are still mostly concerned with teacher/faculty roles, seemingly unwilling to let go of their niche, while giving lip service to the centrality of the learner in the new world of tools and access. It kind of reminds me of every conference I have ever attended: designed to be as relentless and uncomfortable and talking head focused as they could possibly be, with no actual practice of all the educational changes implied by their own research and or personal preferences as learners. What is up with that? So if teachers started thinking about how they would like to learn, as digital natives with all these cool tools, would their conclusions take a different form I wonder?