Technology and the 21st Century Teacher
The central argument upon which I anchored my research work entitled “Factors Affecting The Use of Computers for Classroom Instruction in South Korean Universities”1 was “Information technology has significantly altered the landscape of teaching and learning.”
It (information technology) drastically changed the ways teachers taught and students learn thus the academe need to respond accordingly and effectively.
At the turn of the 21st century education leaders have been reconfiguring educational paradigms that became almost obsolete because of the rapid changes in technology. Nowadays, emerging models of educational frameworks have included technology in both the expected outcomes and support mechanisms of the new paradigms.
The P21, a national non-profit organization that advocates for 21st century readiness for every student, developed the “Framework for 21st Century Learning” (F21CL) to define and illustrate the skills, knowledge students need to succeed in work, life and citizenship.2 The two parts of the framework are student outcomes (as represented by the arches of rainbow) and the support system (as represented by the pools at the bottom. One of the 4 clusters of student outcomes, is “Information, Media, and Technology Skills.” The article explains that to be effective in the 21st century, citizens and worker must be able to create, evaluate and effectively utilize information, media and technology.
And to be effective 21st century teachers, it has become A MUST that the teachers themselves should have those skills just mentioned.
Schools need to respond by making the needed investment. They have to upgrade their existing facilities and purchase the necessary equipment in order to cope up with the demands of the new educational paradigms they have drawn up in order to keep abreast with the demands of the 21st century.
Not only in terms of equipment and facilities that the schools should focus on. They need to pay attention also to their manpower – particularly the teachers who plays the key role to ensure that success of the endeavor.
I made an assertion (in the previous work aforementioned) that integration of technology in instruction and assessment is inevitable and the teachers, being at the center of the delivery of learning need to accept it. The F21CL clearly defines the responsibilities of teachers (Standards and Assessment, Curriculum and Instruction, Professional Development and Leaning Environment.) Much of the responsibilities will be shouldered by the teachers. The said framework even specified clearly what is the role of teachers in the attainment of cluster 4 of students outcome – that is to “Enable innovative learning methods that integrate the use of supportive technologies, inquiry-and-problem-based approaches and higher order thinking skills.
But the application of technology in instruction is a contentious area that caused (or is causing) a lot of arguments and controversies in the academe. Despite the immense benefits that technology brings to education, some teachers are still either unwilling or hesitant to embrace the application of technology to the teaching-learning process.
I specifically identified also (in that same work) the pedagogical benefits that computers and internet provide. For example, the internet has become the teachers and students’ virtual library. Projectors and media players make the interaction between the students and their mentors more efficient. For the teachers in particular, the educational and organizational softwares and web browsers give them more resources and enable them to create better presentations.
But apparently, not all teachers are convinced. They do not believe that computers benefit teaching and learning. They are the ones who do not use presentation softwares preferring to either just dictate or write on the board everything they wish to convey to their students. They are ones who refuse to use available course softwares opting to just open the prescribed textbook and read from it while teaching.
There are two possible reasons.
First – these teachers were exposed to educational philosophies different from those of the ones to whom embracing technology is a welcome development . This could be the reason they have different attitudes and views about the value of computers in teaching and learning. Their educational beliefs just don’t jibe with using computers in the classrooms.
Second and last – they simply do not know how to use any of the Microsoft Office Application and the educational softwares provided for them. They have difficulty navigating around any computer-generated environment. They are so helplessly not computer-literate that no amount of tutoring would help them learn.
Presumably, the reason they could not use the prescribed course softwares to make things easier for them and their students is that they don’t have the ability to do so. Even if assuming the course software doesn’t work, it’s contents can be copied and pasted to any presentation software. But that again could be another problem… they probably don’t know how to create presentations.
Worst, they could simply be just aversive to technology.
Or maybe, they are simply lazy. They are computer literate but are not willing to try new systems being introduced.
The question that begs for answer is, “How can a teacher without the required 21st century skills teach such things to students?”
Professional competence for teachers is continuously evolving as technology keeps creeping into the foundations of education. Alongside pedagogical skills, another skill through which competence of 21st century teachers should be gauged is how extensive and effective do they apply technology (computer) to teaching and learning.
Perhaps it’s about time that computer literacy be strictly considered when hiring teachers.
On the part of school administrators and owners, they have a responsibility of ensuring that when they introduce a new computer application of learning the teachers are given enough time and sufficient training to become familiar with it.
Here is one of the findings in the study I made (which I’ve been referring to.)
“It should be noted also that among the variables that are significant statistically, Teachers’ Perception on the Value of Computers (TPVC) has a positive influence on their (the teachers’) extent of use of computers for instruction in Korean classrooms. Thus, it is important for school administrators to keep that perception positive. The study also found out that a key factor in this positive perception is the teachers’ level of preparedness in using computers to facilitate learning. Being proficient in using computers is different from being familiar in using a new computer application for learning. Even the most proficient among computer users need time to learn an application introduced to them for the first time. Teachers tend to perceive the value of computers for classroom instruction negatively if they were not given enough time to acclimatize themselves with a new system being introduced.”
According to Edwin Creely3, “I was challenged by the ideas from Don Idle that we are textured for technology and that technology has always been and will ever be part of the deepest learning that we do. Learning to move technology and the digital technology of the 21st century into the heart of the learning process is an ongoing challenge for educators. So, the practice of being a literacy educator in the 21st Century must be, has to be, inclusive of digital literacies, including, most importantly, the use of social media.”
As Janelle Cox puts it, “A modern teacher is willing to try new things, from new educational apps to teaching skills and electronic devices. Being innovative means not only trying new things, but questioning your students, making real-world connections and cultivating a creative mindset. It’s getting your students to take risks and having students learn to collaborate.”4