I think there is an underlying fear that the internet or computers will one day replace our beloved profession… but is it likely to come true?
I can’t see it happening and here’s why. Interested to hear what you think
Yes, maybe Teacher Version 0.5 is disappearing- the teacher that simply lectures from notes dusty with age. Their disappearance comes as we notice an evolution towards…
A teacher that masterfully uses all of the tools at their and their students’ disposition to increase collaborative learning. A teacher who mixes pedagogy, soft skills and tech skills, encouraging synchronous and asynchronous learning be it in a physical or digital environment, and doing it in a way that really drives learning and not rote repetition or completion of exercises.
A missing ingredient
Online learning is certainly exploding (nearly doubling over the next 5 years) , and other great bloggers in the community (phil, david) have questioned its future style as they have even questioned the existence of physical classrooms a decade from now.
And yet many online learning tools are still missing a key ingredient: a coach who is present. I know, I know… such a buzz word these days, and I agree: funny that coach has become synonymous for “language teacher”, especially in the 1to1 corporate environment. And yet, it’s true, and it’s definitely moving in the direction of teachers as mentioned in point one— a collaborative approach helping develop specific skills that challenge specific learners or groups of learners.
It’s for this reason, believe it or not, that elearning is still not working very well in many contexts; usage rates of many e-learning applications are quite low with even less than 5% of students taking advantage of what schools offer them for blended learning (thankfully not ours!).
Intrinsic motivation. Often it’s because the applications are not engaging (something Phil mentions in his post above, and also something we’ve worked very hard and have been successful in improving with English Addicts and our other online lessons).
Extrinsic motivation. While I’m the last person to subscribe to the philosophy that teachers carry a stick and say “do”, or dangle a “carrot” in front of students saying “follow”, there is most certainly a huge impact when we work towards something collaboratively, and when students work on something with a “coach” behind their efforts, noticing where and when to help them.
This is why Edulang has specifically designed its applications with teachers in mind- providing student-tracking, and ways for teachers to globally understand how to help their students. Along these lines, an interesting article in Wired yesterday quoted Jonhatan Yve speaking about Apple’s design philosophy which follows ours quite closely:
“Our products are tools and we don’t want design to get in the way.
We’re trying to bring simplicity and clarity”.
Change… always change, but always a community behind that change.
Just as I described the evolution of teachers that we’re seeing these days, so is there an evolution in learning strategies, learning environments, learning platforms, learning materials, teaching approaches, teaching certification… and on and on. Who understands that evolution and follows it? The great influencers of our industry, and the teachers who enjoy continuing with their professional development.
The skills each new evolution will require will change just as each element within the environment will change along with it, however, there will always be a place for leaders who understand these changes, who care about the learners and who are truly present in a way a machine cannot be.
… my two cents …