I have been teaching in the graduate school level for the past seventeen years. I have seen the evolution of elearning from its early stages in 2000, as I was also one of its early adopters when mobile internet speed was at 100 kbps level. I have also witnessed how resistant teachers were during those times, sticking to their face-to-face classroom delivery. There was no impetus to change then, hence, stick to one’s old ways.
But the global pandemic has forced everyone, including educators for all levels, to change and adapt to the new ways of teaching and well as learning because the world of education has already shifted in many ways.
Firstly, learning has shifted from public space to personal space. The classroom interaction has gone virtual. With this, considerations in the use of elearning technologies have become paramount. Teachers now are forced to learn how to deliver their lessons through digital means. In this manner, educators are becoming technologists.
Secondly, there is a shift in teaching methods, i.e. from one size fits all to individualized and differentiated learning. Before the pandemic, teachers would prepare for a lesson for a class and deliver the same lesson to all students face-to-face. Now, students are at their homes learning and studying, with their individual situations. Some have poor learning environments at home, with a lot of distractions and noise. Some have poor internet connectivity and hardware. While other may just simply be distracted in a home study setting.
This means that the teacher should be cognizant of these individual differences and must apply differentiated approaches to make sure that each student gets it. For example, for those students with limited access to internet and technologies, the teacher may supplement the learning with e-mail lessons and follow-through using messaging platforms. These bring the educator back to his or her main competency — being an educational psychologist.
Thirdly, there is a shift of responsibility in the teaching and learning process, i.e. the active participation of household members. Before, parents and guardians of students would leave the educational responsibility to the teacher, attending parent-teacher meetings, and asking the teachers how their children were doing.
Now, household members need to play a critical role in the child’s education, by showing real life examples, giving demonstrations, or even having simple conversations. Hence, teachers also need to educate the family members of the student, especially the parents. Teachers need to counsel the parents on how learning is in this new normal, how important their roles are, and how they can be part of the learning process. Teachers also need to give regular feedback to parents and guardian on how their child is progressing and how they can further help in the learning interventions. In this manner, the role of the educator is that of a counsellor.
Lastly, there is a shift in learning assessments, from final exams to formative evaluations. While many teachers are using outcomes-based approaches to evaluating the learning of students, formative assessments that involve real-life demonstrations of what students learn are more important, especially in a home study setting. Examples are gamified math challenges, science project demonstration, student activities done through video, and even the traditional book reports are now more appropriate means of gauging a student’s learning progress. The teacher can be innovative and creative in coming up with activities and evaluations of the learning outcomes. In this sense, the educator’s role is that of an innovator.
Indeed, the educators’ role has evolved. It is more complex now than before, where one must learn more than the students themselves. Key to thriving and succeeding as an educator during these times, is having the right growth and positive mindset to take on the challenges he or she is facing, learning the tools and approaches to remote learning, and experimenting until he or she gets the right combinations.
These are unprecedented times, and no one has all the answers. Trying, experimenting, learning from mistakes, and bouncing back should be the mindset of the educator.
Reynaldo C. Lugtu, Jr. is CEO of Hungry Workhorse Consulting, a digital and culture transformation consulting firm. He is the Country Representative of the Institute of Change and Transformation Professionals Asia (ICTPA) and Fellow at the US-based Institute for Digital Transformation. He is the Chairman of the Information and Communications Technology Committee of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines. He teaches strategic management in the MBA Program of De La Salle University. firstname.lastname@example.org