Is technology changing the role of teachers?

21st Century LearningWhen talking about 21st century learning, there’s one critical component that ties the concept together: Technology. It is technology in its many forms that is driving innovation, changing the way that students think and, as a result, changing the way that teachers teach.

Digital literacy, in particular, has become one of the main priorities of 21st century education. It’s a central theme of the Common Core State Standards, and a skill that many argue will be vital for students attending college and/or pursuing successful careers in the 21st century. Technology has become the norm in our nation’s schools – you would be hard pressed to find districts without access to computer labs or the Internet.

As a result, teachers are beginning to take a different approach to education in order to accommodate the needs of 21st century students. They’re integrating technology into instruction by encouraging students to use computers for research or work with adaptive learning technology to grasp new concepts.

Chris Merkert, a teacher who has fully embraced this new approach to education, enjoys the fact that 21st century learning gives him the ability to focus on small groups of students as they work on computers or tablets.

“I’m no longer giving 40-minute lectures four times a day and wondering which class got the raw deal, or collecting and grading exams only to discover too late that they weren’t getting it,” Merkert told Education Week.

Clearly, technology isn’t just helping students evolve – it’s also changing the role of teachers in the classroom. 21st century teachers have mastered certain skills that educators in the past never even had to consider. So, how exactly is the 21st century teacher different? They have these important qualities:

Communicators
While teachers have always needed to communicate with students, the way in which they do so has evolved over the last decade. Rather than standing in front of a classroom and talking about important concepts, they are now encouraging dialogue – allowing students to question what they are learning and to think critically. This new approach to communication stimulates more direct interaction with students.

Collaborators
In addition to being good communicators, 21st century teachers must also be willing to collaborate with students in ways they haven’t before. The blended learning model of instruction, in particular, gives teachers the opportunity to work with students in small groups, giving them more one-on-one attention and encouraging them to actively engage in the learning process.

Adaptive
Like the adaptive learning programs that many school districts now use, teachers, too, must learn to adapt. 21st century education is not one-size-fits-all. In fact, having the ability to tweak curricula, change lesson plans or open up discussions depending upon the needs and interests of students can help teachers become partners in the learning process, rather than wholly separate entities.

Facilitators
One major way that teaching has changed in the 21st century is that educators have become facilitators of learning. In other words, they help students discover knowledge on their own, rather than simply imparting it. This places students in an active role and keeps them engaged and interested in a world that is rapidly changing.

Intelligent Adaptive Learning What were your thoughts on this blog? Tell us what you think in the comments section below. Want to learn more about 21st Century Learning? Check out our recent white paper, Essential Elements of 21st Century Teaching and Learning

  • AnneMarie Untalan

    I see the many adaptive benefits of 21st Century Learning with technology; however, as with most things in life, we need to have balance. I would challenge that “interactive” on a personal computer, online isn’t necessarily rich interaction with peers in real-time.