Since technology and digitization assumed a center stage in our lives, education has seen a massive transformation.
Bringing learners up to speed with the demands of the current industry trends became the ultimate goal for every educator, and how to achieve this became a burning issue. Curriculum were adapted and school systems modified to inculcate technology into daily routines without disrupting the comfort of students at every stage of their learning journey. However, with all the focus diverted on making students more newgen-savvy, critics often missed asking one important question – are our teachers also adopting 21st century skills?
Nowadays, with technology becoming easily accessible, students are more privy to information that is expected of their age. Mobile phones, computers, social media, etc. – a child’s life without these is a rare scenario to come across. Technology is no more considered a luxury; it has well entered the territory of essential necessities. The increasing ease of accessibility of technology also gives students the ability to learn beyond what is taught in school. Thus, teachers have to always keep themselves a step ahead of their pupils making it imminent that schools hire and constantly train teachers to be ahead of the curve, and provide more to students than just textbook knowledge.
Many teachers understand the need for this and constantly upskill themselves. But, at the same time, it is the responsibility of schools and educational institutions to regularly conduct learning activities for teachers to keep them up to date with various new age teaching tools, concepts and processes.
Here are some ways to help ensure teachers have adopted the requisite skills required to impart right kind of education to the new generation of learners in the right way:
Provide teachers with access to the latest tools:
Information and communication technologies (ICT) and access to these is the need of the hour for the education system today. ICT has become a norm since few decades that has silently been impacting our daily life and teaching world is no exception to it. ICT helps teachers modify the study material to bring in more real-world concepts to the classroom so that students get a more well-round practical education. Classrooms are no more a one-way education medium. Education has become more interactive and diverse. With a large number of concepts and formats of imparting education available, bringing a technological edge to the classroom also helps in making the learning process more interesting and faster. Thus ensuring that teachers can continue to create value and be relevant to their students. Some examples of ICT tools that teachers should be given access to are virtual classrooms, webinars, web/video conferencing, using the internet, CDs and videotapes.
Integrating technology with teaching processes:
Learning management systems like Google Classroom, Canvas, and Blackboard Learn has made processes like grading, planning studies and sharing files between students and teachers easy, quick and paperless. Not only is this method eco-friendly but it also saves a lot of effort which would have otherwise been consumed in doing these tasks physically. Teaching educators to use technology in their teaching processes will help them innovate further in planning their lessons due to the availability and assistance of sophisticated software and designing tools.
Introducing 21st-century concepts to teachers:
21st-century learning is all about innovation, problem-solving and critical thinking. Education is no more restricted to a sage and student method where a teacher would read from a book and students would listen disinterestedly. In the 21st century, teachers have to deliver concepts in a way that binds the interest of the student. Thus for teachers to be able to educate students in the 21st century, they must adopt skills like practical application, creativity, innovation, interaction, and critical questioning and analysis. Teachers should be provided training sessions on a continued basis to adapt them to these concepts and show them innovative ways of applying it.
Using technology to train teachers:
Learning & development and continuous training are an integral part of every profession. Teaching is no different. Introducing teachers to modern technologies and making sure they utilize it, should be the priority of every educational institution. Professionally available digital methods should be wired to conduct remote sessions for teachers on the newest tools available for teaching. They should also be given sessions on new methods of instruction and understanding the psychology of students. This will help them understand the thought processes and background of students and bring about a degree of customization in the classroom.
Innovation and customization:
The 21st century is the era of customization. Teachers must be willing to try out new things in academics to deliver lessons that are aligned to the needs, goals, and interests of the learners. Teachers have to understand that no two students are alike, and hence every student has to be taught differently. Innovation and customization should be encouraged at all levels and should be strictly observed.
Lastly, no matter what the generation, it is true that nothing can replace a teacher. No robot or technology can become big enough to replace the role of an educator. However, with the application of these methods – teachers can be made to upgrade to the needs of the new crop of learners thus preventing them from becoming redundant and their existing skills irrelevant. The need of a student has changed exponentially in the last few years. The mind-set and attitude of students are no more determined by their teachers or primary caregivers. Even students as young as 3-5-year-olds have the capability of choosing their area of interests and sticking by it, thus to garner their attention – it is pertinent that teachers realign their skills.
With learning becoming ‘smart’ – teaching has also undergone a drastic change. Educational institutions have adopted cutting-edge modern technology to expedite and simplify routine processes for teachers; thus helping them focus their time towards more productive activities – like effective classroom interaction, communication with students and more importantly focussed and meaningful knowledge sharing which will make students more capable of taking over the world.