Thursday, 15 May 2014

Teaching in the Digital Era – Challenges For the XXI Century Teachers.

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Let’s start with the fact that technology is all around us and it plays an important part in our daily lives. It’s present in our homes, our workplace, on the streets; it can even travel with us. As communication and information technologies become more complex and massive, our society’s complexity gowns as well: we’re now a knowledge and information based society, and every time we are more and more a mobile society. Every day processes such as transferring money demand to be carried out through the web, manipulating diverse technological gadgets. We then have to recognize that, as members of this society, we must be literate on how to exploit technology in our advantage; in other words, we must know how to effectively use these technologies because we are now living in a digital world.

Teachers like us, not only as members of this society, but also as professionals whose job is preparing others to perform effectively as citizens, cannot stay behind. Society’s demands towards teachers (and learners) have now changed as social dynamics have due to the deep incorporation of these technologies in our daily life. Basically, I consider the teacher in the XXI century must:

  • Have knowledge of basic hardware and software operations, as well as know how to use basic communication software and applications.
  • Have enough subject knowledge to be able to incorporate technologies into the established curriculum, particularly if its design doesn’t incorporate ICT .
  • Use technology wisely, always aware of when and where to use it, but also when not to use them for classroom activities, taking into account our learners’ needs.
  • Be able to use these technologies in a variety of classroom settings (pair, group, individual work or with the whole class) and make sure all students have equal access to them.
  • Know the learning processes our students are going through in order to help them along and design ICT-based activities and tasks to support and assist the students’ knowledge acquisition.
  • Support collaborative work and student-centred activities and use technology to create this collaborative environment.
  • Develop the ability to structure problem-solving tasks in order to reflect on daily global matters and have enough knowledge of web tools and applications to help students access the information they need to complete the tasks.
  •   Train students on how to discriminate information gathered, carry out a proper analysis of new knowledge acquired.
  • Support the development of the students’ knowledge creation skills and encourage them to share this knowledge through different means available.
  • Know how to take advantage of the many web resources in order to acquire more subject knowledge for our own professional development.
  • Be able and willing to collaborate with other teachers, as well as access experts on the subject matter to develop professionally.
  • Be willing to experiment with these technologies in order to learn and share our knowledge with other professionals through professional communities and other spaces the web offers.
As we can see, the XXI century is demanding, and changes occur so fast that teachers may have a hard time trying to keep up-to-date, not only regarding their subject knowledge, but also the different resources that can help us do our job. 
Now I wonder, am I ready to face the challenges of teaching in the XXI century? I think I am. I’m a curious person, always trying to explore new resources and dynamics to give my students the best I can give. I want them to learn in a meaningful way, so I do my best with the resources I have access to in order to give them high quality education and prepare them the best I can for the challenges they’ll face in their daily lives. We should always remember that, as we teach, we learn, and I’m open to new knowledge.
How about you?
If you’d like to read a bit more about the topic before sharing your thoughts, here you’ll find three publications that might be of your interest:
  • ‘Blooms Taxonomy Blooms Digitally’, written by Andrew Churches, explains how Bloom’s taxonomy of cognitive objectives, a theoretical basis to understand the process of learning, can be adapted to the new objectives that emerged with the integration of information and communication technologies into the classrooms, as well as into the lives of our students.
  • ‘Constructing on Constructivism: The Role of Technology’ by Nanjappa A. and Grant M. is also a very useful article, which examines the relationship between technology and constructivist strategies (such as collaborative and cooperative learning methods) and how new teacher roles emerge from this paradigm.

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