Module #1 – Our Changing Online World
Isaac Asimov stated in the early 1930’s……….
“It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.”
Regarding the potential online education environment of the future, what characteristics and skills do you believe will be required by educators of the future?
When considering the potential changes in online education, as well as the use of technology in the classroom, I cannot help but reflect upon the changes that have been made in only the past fifteen years. I often remark to my grade six students that less than fifteen years ago, when I was doing a report or researching an assignment when I was in grade six, I had to comb through stacks of books, articles, and encyclopedias for information before even beginning to write my report! Now, the generation of students who I teach has grown up using electronics of all kinds. It is essential that today’s teachers are just as educated in the use of technology as their students are in order to maximize learning. When these students grow up, they may not need to recall facts and memorize answers. Instead, we can focus on teaching them how to do things for themselves, such as research, publish, write for an audience, and use the technology that they will need in the working world.
There are many characteristics and skills that educators of the future will be required to possess. First, they will need to be well versed in the tools and processes through which to deliver online content and by which to have their students write and publish in response to the content. Future educators also must be innovative and creative when constructing online courses to ensure that they meet the needs of a variety of learners from a variety of backgrounds and ages. No longer can educators possess the mentality that the online course is simply a direct-teaching / question-and-answer based process. The educators must be willing to learn about Web 2.0 and approach it with an open mind, rather than becoming overwhelmed by it. I know many teachers who simply refuse to even use technology in their classrooms or who rarely use their email as a means of communication because they are suffering from the “I haven’t used it until now and have gotten along just fine” mentality. Web 2.0 is here to stay, and educators must be willing to look at it as a new, exciting, and creative way to teach, deliver content, and motivate students to learn through collaborative and personal publishing projects.
I feel that future educators must also retain a connectedness and emotional aspect when designing and delivering online courses. I have heard many people remark that online courses are not as effective because they are too impersonal. However, I feel that if the educator is willing to design courses and exercises to help students get to know each other, such as through our profiles on our course blog, or through the use of chat programs or the avatars that were mentioned in the Second Life program article, I students can learn even more about each other than if they were enrolled in a non-online course. I also feel that teacher interaction, such as commenting to the students on their blog posts, would also promote a feeling of connectedness and interaction that is needed in a learning environment. It’s a very exciting time, and the more educators are willing to learn about the future of online education themselves, the better their teaching will be.