Chapter 12, Supporting teachers and instructors in a digital age, the last chapter of my online, open textbook for teachers and instructors, Teaching in a Digital Age, is now published. It covers the following:
Section 12.7 is really a summary of the main points in the book, which I reproduce below as the key takeaways from the book.
I will do a separate post on Scenario G, which provides a possible future scenario for teaching in a digital age.
The book is by no means finished. I need to do some serious editing, but the book now exists in a form that can be used immediately for supporting faculty development, or for teachers and instructors interested in improving their teaching.
1. There is increasing pressure from employers, the business community, learners themselves, and also from a significant number of educators, for learners to develop the type of knowledge and the kinds of skills that they will need in a digital age.
2. The knowledge and skills needed in a digital age, where all ‘content’ will be increasingly and freely available over the Internet, requires graduates with expertise in:
- knowledge management (the ability to find, evaluate and appropriately apply knowledge),
- IT knowledge and skills,
- inter-personal communication skills, including the appropriate use of social media
- independent and lifelong learning skills
- a range of intellectual skills, including
- knowledge construction
- critical analysis,
- collaborative learning and teamwork
- multi-tasking and flexibility.
These are all skills that are relevant to any subject domain, and need to be embedded within that domain. With such skills, graduates will be better prepared for a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world.
3. To develop such knowledge and skills, teachers and instructors need to set clear learning outcomes and select teaching methods that will support the development of such knowledge and skills, and, since all skills require practice and feedback to develop, learners must be given ample opportunity to practice such skills. This requires moving away from a model of information transmission to greater student engagement, more learner-centred teaching, and new methods of assessment that measure skills as well as mastery of content.
4. Because of the increased diversity of students, from full-time campus-based learners to lifelong learners already with high levels of post-secondary education to learners who have slipped through the formal school system and need second-chance opportunities, and because of the capacity of new information technologies to provide learning at any time and any place, a much wider range of modes of delivery are needed, such as campus-based teaching, blended or hybrid learning and fully online courses and programs, both in formal and in non-formal settings.
5. The move to blended, hybrid and online learning and a greater use of learning technologies offers more options and choices for teachers and instructors. In order to use these technologies well, teachers and instructors require not only to know the strengths and weaknesses of different kinds of technology, but also need to have a good grasp of how students learn best. This requires knowing about
- the research into teaching and learning,
- different theories of learning related to different concepts of knowledge (epistemology),
- different methods of teaching and their strengths and weaknesses.
Without this basic foundation, it is difficult for teachers and instructors to move away from the only model that many are familiar with, namely the lecture and discussion model, which is limited in terms of developing the knowledge and skills required in a digital age.
6. The challenge is particularly acute in universities. There is no requirement to have any training or qualification in teaching to work in a university in most Western countries. Nevertheless teaching will take up a minimum of 40 per cent of a faculty member’s time, and much more for many adjunct or contract faculty or full time college instructors. However, the same challenge remains, to a lesser degree, for school teachers and college instructors: how to ensure that already experienced professionals have the knowledge and skills required to teach well in a digital age.
7. Institutions can do much to facilitate or impede the development of the knowledge and skills required in a digital age. They need to
- ensure that all levels of teaching and instructional staff have adequate training in the new technologies and methods of teaching necessary for the development of the knowledge and skills required in a digital age
- ensure that there is adequate learning technology support for teachers and instructors
- ensure that conditions of employment and in particular class size enable teaching and instructional staff to teach in the ways that will develop the knowledge and skills needed in a digital age
- develop a practical and coherent institutional strategy to support he kind of teaching needed in a digital age.
8. Although governments, institutions and learners themselves can do a great deal to ensure success in teaching and learning, in the end the responsibility and to some extent the power to change lies within teachers and instructors themselves.
9. It will be the imagination of teachers inventing new ways of teaching that will eventually result in the kinds of graduates the world will need in the future
I’m now in the final editing stages. The book will be available for review and I will be approaching some of the leading experts in this area to do a full critique and suggestions for improvement. But now is your chance. If you have:
- criticisms of what I’ve written
- suggestions for adding things that I missed
- suggestions for improvements to content
- suggestions for improvements to the open textbook format
- any other comments, negative or positive
about the whole book, please let me know.