Tuesday, August 30, 2016

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

In the previous post, I mentioned that there are three essential ingredients that should not change in education and especially in E-Learning education which are:

  1. Reason for entering the profession of teaching is driven by the desire to make a positive difference in the life of the learner.
  2. Building a relationship of trust and respect between learner and educator which in today's moral climate is a "counter-cultural" thing to do and yet is vital to healing our societies.
  3. Emphasis on the idea of the educator being a co-learner with his or her students in an environment where pursuing life long learning is no longer just a phrase in mission statements of education institutions but has become a survival imperative in a world where knowledge and technology are advancing exponentially.

Things That Must and Are Changing

The Model and Purpose of Education:  I wish that I had a dollar for every time that I have mentioned this in posts and in responses to articles. Simply put: 

"We need to stop educating learners to take their place in a world that no longer exists."

In the past, learners were educated to become efficient workers for industry and life long consumers of products being mass produced. We still see the consequences of this consumer focused mindset in the 21st century where people are told that they must have the latest and the best whether they need the item or not. We need to stop making life-changing decisions based on nostalgia.


 In developed countries consumer debt load has been on a steady rise to points where the next generation are already deep in debt when they are born. To make matters worse, our education institutions place such a heavy burden on the very people who could make a difference in the world by forcing them to focus more on the basics of life instead of enabling them to focus on being the creators of a better quality of life for all people in society.


The distribution of wealth on a global scale creates a great divide in which the majority of people in poorer countries become vulnerable to abject poverty, illness, unemployment, civil war and the growth of terrorism.

It really does not take a great visionary to see where this present scenario is leading our societies if we continue to support an industrial economy mindset in which a few achieve lavish lifestyles on the backs of a majority of people in society. Our societies are now facing the backlash of people who can no longer ensure the health and safety of their families and loved ones. We see people who are angry with the disintegration of their quality of life while others in powerful places in government serve themselves first but to the majority they metaphorically speaking say, "Let them eat cake:)".

A new paradigm for the purpose for education needs to be put in place to change the tide for people who feel that they have been robbed of a future for themselves and their families.

The new model and purpose of education should now focus on educating learners to become agents of change within their societies who will use the technology to collaborate with others on a global scale to help solve complex real world problems which the past model and purpose of education failed to resolve. These new learners will also become creators of new knowledge and skillsets with a focus on cross disciplinary collaboration with the purpose of improving the quality of life for all people.


Strategic Systems Thinking and Design: The structure of learning experiences will take advantage of new opportunities presented by access to cross disciplinary networks on the web which will reform and re-shape pedagogy so that the new pedagogy is agile, dynamic and fluid. Unlike in the past, creativity and innovation will be nurtured and encouraged through the learning experiences of the learners. Design thinking involving real world simulations and scenarios will not remain as a contrived classroom exercises but will involve using the professional networks on the web as an audience for the innovative real world ideas of the learners.
Learners will receive real world feedback from those who are on the cutting edge of their disciplines. This will provide greater engagement on the part of the learners as well as allowing them to be part of a global learning community.


Mentoring Networks: One of the necessary changes to E-Learning is the needed development of global online professional mentoring networks. As was pointed out in discussing learning for the business organization, life long learning has to be more than a nice phrase used in the organizational mission to impress stakeholders. In a knowledge and learning age, developing effective mentoring relationships is an essential. The learning process in an online environment must have as its first mission to teach critical thinking skills to learners when confronted with exponentially growing amounts of information. Not all information is bona fide knowledge on the web and learners need to be able to know how to authenticate what they find. To support the process of learning how to learn in an online environment, developing a mentoring relationship with professional mentoring networks is an essential. The goals of these mentoring networks would be:

  1. Provide an audience for the innovative and creative ideas of the learner.
  2. Provide personal encouragement of the learner in order for him or her to continue to grow in their learning.
  3. Provide up to date opportunities to collaborate with other learners on global projects.

The elephant in the room in all of this talk about change is the question:

" How will the role of the educator change in order to meet the challenge of these changes?

Look for the answer to this question in an upcoming post titled:

 "The Dawn of AI(Artificial Intelligence) and the Transformation of the Role of the Educator"

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