Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Technology Alone Won't Transform Teacher to Facilitator: Technology Holds Part of the Answer to Improving Teaching, but It Must Be Combined with Sharp and Thoughtful Changes in How Teachers Design Curriculum and How Students Learn

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Technology Alone Won't Transform Teacher to Facilitator: Technology Holds Part of the Answer to Improving Teaching, but It Must Be Combined with Sharp and Thoughtful Changes in How Teachers Design Curriculum and How Students Learn

Article excerpt

Education leaders, principals, teachers, policy makers and researchers increasingly agree that the traditional role of the teacher must change. Having consensus both on the need for quality teachers and a new conception of the teaching role is encouraging. Unfortunately there is little agreement about the process of change or what the new teacher's role should look like. Proponents of online and blended learning hold that providing access to technology as an equalizer for low-income students will force teachers to change how they teach and ultimately shift their role to that of facilitator, creating more efficiencies and customizing learning. For this reason, their argument appeals to districts and states.

But the argument oversimplifies the complex process required to shift teacher roles and thus fails to acknowledge the depth of strategic thinking and careful planning that goes into the role of effective facilitator. Furthermore, the technology-as-driver of-change argument mischaracterizes how professionals restructure their work and redefine their roles. Professional work is never fundamentally altered merely by external forces, and teacher roles won't change by simply booting up and connecting to the Internet. Instead the new model requires empowering teachers to break out of their isolated roles and act collectively in flat organizations with strong professional communities where they can shift roles seamlessly.

Facilitating learning

At the eight schools profiled in Deeper Learning: How Eight Innovative Public Schools are Transforming Education in the 21st Century (New Press, 2014), teachers collectively share a vision of promoting deeper learning in all students and have collaboratively redesigned the teacher role to that of a facilitator who uses technology as a tool. As facilitators, teachers become learning strategists who constantly plan ways to enable students to master complex content knowledge and develop their critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, and collaboration skills. In this construct, technology has a small, disruptive, yet supportive function in changing the role of teachers. Teachers in these schools recognize that only by carefully constructing learning experiences can they fully assume their role as facilitator. To do this, teachers have to return to their core role as curriculum designer of meaningful learning experiences for students that provide opportunities for them to engage in the deliberate practice of deeper learning skills.

Rather than lecturing students and relying on outdated textbooks, teachers design assignments and activities that fully engage students and have them regularly practice higher-order skills as they develop and practice collaboration and communication. For example, Socratic seminars are the signature pedagogy for English classes at Impact Academy in Hayward, Calif. The intent is to help students develop the skills required to interpret a complex text as well as articulate a well-developed view to others. However, these teacherless conversations require extensive preparation if students are to function well on their own. As an Impact Academy teacher explained, "I am a ringmaster. My role is to frame and emphasize what we are about to do. I set it up; students do the work, analyze the work, and discuss the work ... I channel the discussion so the students find their way. Then I provide the postanalysis ... which prepares them to do even better the next time."

Teachers at other schools assume this same facilitation role when using student debates to develop students' critical thinking, communication, and collaboration skills. At High Tech High in San Diego, we saw students successfully participate in 35-minute debates with the teacher as moderator and timekeeper. Former teacher Dan Wise was strategic in designing the learning experience and scaffolding the skills the students needed. Wise first assigned students to conduct extensive background research on their chosen social issue. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.