Technology changing teachers' role

BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS Senior staff reporter

Tuesday, February 11, 2014    

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TEACHERS who do not adapt to the demands of the new technology-driven classroom will become a relic of the past as much as textbooks, key educators are predicting.

This as educational institutions, in moving with the times, ramp up the use of technology.

"One of the things I am finding is that, this thing of having textbooks is done. What you are finding is you have to give everybody linkages to different sources of information online that they can research themselves and you are finding that that is richer than dealing with one or two textbooks," Robert Stephens, lecturer and chair of ICT4D Jamaica, told editors and reporters at the Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange.

According to Stephens, the role of teachers has changed significantly and outgrown the four corners of a room anywhere

"The teacher of today is no longer someone who teaches in the classroom, but is available 24/7s and that really is a big challenge," Stephens explained. ICT4D Jamaica is an open, Jamaican-based network organisation that was set up to define, foster and facilitate the use of information and communication technology in the development process.

Yesterday, Dr Jeanette Bartley-Bryan, associate vice-president in the Office of Distance Learning, Academic Affairs Division, at the University of Technology (UTech) Jamaica, said there "must be a team approach" in order to cope with the changing role of teachers.

"Traditionally, one teacher goes in behind the scenes and you are alone in your class; what now happens is that you have to have subject matter experts, persons who can help to write or transform the material separate from those who then have to be very skilled in terms of the technology," she said.

She noted that while some individuals are of the opinion that older teachers would not adapt, experience has shown that it is "not so much about age level, it's about person's interest [and] ...personality".

"And so using a team approach, what we are seeing is that not everybody is suitable for every type of media. So some of those things we look at in terms of the team of teachers who have an aptitude," she noted.

"For persons who are not interested, not willing, I would have said, you have begun to see a different type of student coming before you, how did you plan then to manage that because each generation is coming a little more tech savvy and getting bored with the talk," Dr Bartley-Bryan pointed out.

In the meantime, she said educators were aware that the transition is "not easy".

"I am not pretending that technology is the panacea... but just like how you have to use the mobile phone we are saying to teachers and all facilitators, our learners are curious and adventurous so how do we harness all of that in the education process?", she said.

"We are saying it's time to come to the table, look at the range of methodologies, one size doesn't fit all, we have to look at the kinds of learners we have out there. It's no longer the teacher as the sources, teachers are facilitators but it needs standards," she added.





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