Technology won’t replace your empathy for your students. It won’t have a conversation with a parent about something that their child did that day. It won’t go on field trips or sing a song out of tune. It cannot replace what has kept teachers in the classroom since the beginning of time.
by Elizabeth Goodhue
Sometimes, when marketing wants to sell our e-learning package, teachers meet them with skepticism. Is there really a lingering fear out there that they will be replaced? I am a teacher and the only thing on my mind about teaching is how can I make it effective? How can I engage students? How can I be sure that my students can make it in a 21st-century world?
Of course, teachers are skeptical
But they shouldn’t be. According to The Guardian, Classrooms will continue to change shape, but it’s safe to assume that there will be a human teacher at the front of them for a long time yet. Technology is a tool to help teachers do what they do best, not to replace them. Technology can enhance myriad 21st-century skills. Pick anyone of those skills from the graphic above and it can be supported with technology. But not technology alone. Students need mentors, guides, and models to steer them in an ethical direction.
Students need teachers
In a screen-centered world, students, now more than ever, need to learn how to collaborate, adapt and negotiate the world. Business leaders do not want someone who is proficient in responding to one-dimensional routine tasks that a computer generates to sell their product or negotiate business deals.
Schooling that trains students to efficiently conduct routine tasks is training students for jobs that pay minimum wage—or jobs that simply no longer exist. Justin Reich
When an e-learning company knocks on your virtual door, or your principal emails you a link to its product, embrace it, learn it, make it your friend. E-learning is here to stay because it will make your job easier. It will create and grade those standardized tests for you, it will do the research for you, it will engage your students with games and all of the bells and whistles that technology can provide. But it won’t replace your empathy for your students. It won’t have a conversation with a parent about something that their child did that day. It won’t go on field trips or sing a song out of tune. It cannot replace what has kept teachers in the classroom since the beginning of time. We know who we are and we know where we belong, no piece of technology ever thought differently because it can’t.
The Essential 21st-century Skills
The essential 21st-century skills include creative thinking and innovation, problem-solving and reasoning, global and cultural awareness, collaboration and technological literacy. Fortunately, we have the technology to teach these skills to the 21st-century generation. One way is through the flipped classroom.
In the flipped classroom, students use valuable classroom time for creative thinking and innovation, problem-solving and reasoning, global and cultural awareness, and collaboration. Instead of listening to a teacher lecture about a subject, students listen to a lecture to familiarize themselves with the content of the subject outside of the classroom. The next day, they come to class prepared to apply their knowledge.
If students are going to learn the essential 21st-century skills that we claim to be teaching them, they need to use their valuable classroom time to apply these skills.The classroom is a hotbed for collaboration and creative thinking. Teachers and students should not waste this valuable time passively absorbing information. They must exercise higher order thinking skills.
Here is what you should do
- Assign a module for homework. The advantages:
- it takes less time than a classroom lecture and it is interactive
- students with a short attention span can take a break
- students learn the material at their own pace.
- students can replay material that they do not understand
- students can test their understanding at the end of the module
- Assess the student of the material before presenting the classroom challenge.
- assign the assessment provided at the end of the module.
- use the immediate feedback to gauge the students’ understanding
- answer questions about the material before proceeding with the lesson
- Present a problem (a lab, a math concept, an essay. . .) that promotes
- creative thinking and innovation,
- problem-solving and reasoning,
- global and cultural awareness
The only thing left to do is try it. All of Learning Port’s modules are aligned with the MOE curriculum guidelines so you can find a module that matches the lesson you want to teach. It might be an adjustment at first. You will have to figure out the timing, adapt the strategy to a student who may not have access to the Internet at home, but the students will reap the benefits from this positive shift from a passive approach to learning to an engaging and enlightened one.