Thursday, August 25, 2016

Transformation: "So, You Want to Be a 21st Century E-Learning Teacher?":Part I

As we move more and more into the evolution of E-Learning as a means of educating learners both in the corporate and formal education worlds, people who are already educators or trainers need to do some personal introspection dealing with questions such as:

  1. "What do I have to do to make the transformation from the brick and mortar school  or business organization where most of my experience and training has been to the entirely new environment of the online world?"
  2.  "Do the skillsets that I have developed in the brick and mortar school system or business culture still apply in the online environment?"
  3.  "What will I have to sacrifice in order to adapt and be successful in this new environment?"

These questions are all quite valid and important to resolve before under going the transformation. The reality that many brick and mortar classroom teachers and traditional trainers may have to face is that they might not be able to adapt to the demands of the online world of education even though they may have been excellent in their previous capacities as educators and trainers. Not all educators and trainers can manage change at the level that may be required in an online environment. If dealing with new technology comes intuitively to you then you see ways of harnessing technology to effective online pedagogy and can move "flexibly" in the online world . The opposite end of the spectrum has individuals who feel threatened by technology and as a result build personal defenses to help resist it. They are individuals who are quite happy to maintain the status quo regardless of whether or not learners are in sync with the digital world they live in. It is in these circumstances that we see the rise of disconnect of learners from their education.

What Things Stay the Same?

Reason for Entering the Profession of Teaching: If you ask most educators why they entered education, most would respond that they wanted to make a positive difference in the lives of learners. They would also say that they truly love young people with all of the different stages of life that they go through and how they cherish the moments when a young person finally understands something that they have been struggling with. The reward for the educator is to see the learner's face light up as they have that "Eureka" moment. As an educator, you are willing to do almost anything to help a young learner succeed. All of the above should remain the same in the transformation from the one world to another.

Building a Relationship of Trust and Respect: The relationship between the educator and learner must be one of mutual trust and respect. In the moral climate of today's world, building this type of relationship has sadly become a "counter-cultural" thing to do. The simple truth is that in this world, there is enough hypocrisy to go around from the leaders of our nations down to the simple man or woman on the street. In the brick and mortar classroom when you are face to face with the learners, you can pick up emotional clues from the learners which gives you an indication of the state of your relationship. In the online or virtual education world, these clues take the form of abbreviations and emoticons.

"In order to make a difference in a young person's life, you have to be that one difference that stands out when they look at their world and their life!"

Partners in Life Long Learning: For centuries, regardless of which culture you focus on, the educator has always been that "sage on the stage" and the fountain of all knowledge in the relationship between the learner and educator. It was considered true arrogance for a student to presume that they possessed the necessary knowledge to correct their teacher. It was also perceived by the student that the teacher now knew everything and that the teacher didn't need to learn. During the 1990's with the introduction of the Internet to the main stream, access to knowledge became more widely available and the amount of information, thanks to advancing technology, grew exponentially. All of a sudden, the sage on the stage and the fountain of all knowledge became an anachronism and more importantly, the learners knew it too. The transformation that the educator had to make was from overseer of knowledge to partnership with the learners on the journey of life long learning. In present online world of education,  the role of the educator as the " guide on the side", as a life long learner is something that is an essential and should not change.

These are three main aspects that should remain the same in the transformation from brick and mortar educator to online educator or trainer.

Next: "So, You Want to Be a 21st Century E-Learning Teacher?" : Part II--Things That Must Change"

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