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Changing Roles of Educators

June 8, 2014

Technology is a dynamic and influential source of change in post-secondary education.  More and more students come to classes armed with smartphones, tablets, laptops and other devices that assist them in their everyday lives.  Why not harness that power to enhance the classroom.

Over the past couple of years I have always had to have the rule of no cell phone usage in class except at break as they have provided a huge distraction to students.  Students spend time accessing social media sites like facebook rather than listening to discussions in the classroom.  This fight always was exhausting as I fight for the attention of the student, and the student attempts to manage the multi-faceted parts of their lives.  I generally lost. 

So I have decided to look at these devices in a different way.  No longer will they be considered a nuisance but rather an assistant.  How so you say?  By harnessing the power of these devices and utilizing them in my classroom.  My role is changing to accommodate these devices so that I can do less ‘lecture’ and more interaction with my students.  Why not use facebook and twitter in my class as a way to start discussions about topics?  I can pose questions and watch the learning unfold.  They are after all going to use this anyway, so now I just have to make it useful.

The Economist Intelligence Unit (2008) discusses how technology is changing today’s classrooms in their report titled The Future of Higher Education: How Technology will Shape Learning.  In this report 2 things jumped out at me: 1 – teaching needs to become more outcome based and student centered, and 2 – the professor’s role is changing from instructor to mentor (Economist, 2008).  Both concepts point to the changing role that I need to adopt which is to move away from the ‘deliverer of information’ to a role that is centered around the needs of the student.  What that means to me is to be the coach of my nursing team to help them attack the objectives, apply them to real life situations and build activities (preferably using technology) to help them make sense of theory. 

In the above report, they have listed many tables outlining the results of their surveys.  One question was whether students found the availability of technology on campus as an important decision point for attending universities, and the results were overwhelmingly very important (Economist, 2008).  Another question that was posed to respondents was what they thought was the impact of technological innovation on teaching methodologies, and again the answer was overwhelmingly a major impact (Economist, 2008).  What this says to me is that I need to listen to that and adapt my position as an educator to fit with the needs and wants of the future student.  How exactly I am going to go about that is still an area that I need to explore and experiment with.  For now I have made the first step towards realization that my role is changing , and the student is the driving force in this.  Technology is inevitable, not a hindrance to learning but rather a source that can be harnessed in very useful ways. 

I encourage you to look at the document yourself if this is an area of interest for you.  There were too many points to summarize here but definitely helpful in helping me sort through my changing role as a post-secondary instructor.  You may find it at the link below and also in my resources section.  Happy reading!

Economist Intelligence Unit (2008). The Future of Higher Education: How technology will shape learning. Sponsored by the New Media Consortium, New York, NY Retrieved on April 15, 2014 from:

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