TEACHER OR LEARNING FACILITATOR?

I used to think I was simply a teacher. Not anymore. Throughout my doctorate the teacher’s role is being continuously reconstructed for me: a modern teacher is now an instructor, a facilitator, a consultant, a learning designer, and even a knowledge architect. Scary names, aren’t they? How on earth do I teach now, with all these roles in mind? No, wait … how do I instruct, facilitate, consult and design?

At the university we discuss a number of popular teaching/learning models such as Community of Enquiry, 5-stage model, constructive alignment, scaffolding, ADDIE model to name a few. What all these models share is that they approach a student as an autonomous and active learner, collaborator and team player. This is a good starting point for a learning design of the future, but there are certainly challenges behind it.

The new learning culture will require customizing education to the learners’ needs. I like how M. Cleveland-Innes described this approach as flexible design for complex needs of students. I think I intuitively already followed the trend of blended learning design by tailoring professional English courses in my school to the customer’s profile: instead of English for hotels we created the English course for X Hotel, or instead of English for tourism we custom-made the course for the Restaurant Z. We were working closely with the client to customize the course as much as possible to match the needs of the company’s personnel. Plus all this was linked to the LMS. However, I never thought of the approach as the first step on the way to blended learning design. I never though I might think of becoming a learning designer. What a title!

The use of different educational tools becomes an inseparable part of education, but again if only properly adjusted to the learner’s needs and learning outcomes. So, for me the use of digital tools supports the idea that we are moving towards the era of highly individualized learning: education for professionals who aim at learning narrow specialization. So, education will inevitably tend to go narrower and narrower, and courses will probably have more sub-courses designed around the students’ needs. There are downsides of this individualized learning. For example, my concern is that this digitalized, tailored and highly specialized education will result into a mass creation of narrow experts who know nothing but their subject and even know little of their subject outside their narrow topic of interest. On the other hand, more unique and highly competitive experts.

In the globalized world with (almost) erased uniqueness in most areas of life, if learning customization will become big, I guess I will enjoy it in both teaching, learning and business!

References:

Salmon, G (2013) The Five Stage Model. [Homepage] http://www.gillysalmon.com/five-stage-model.html

Vaughan, N. D., Cleveland-Innes, M., & Garrison, D. R. (2013). Teaching in blended learning environments: Creating and sustaining communities of inquiry. Edmonton: AU Press. Chapter 1 “Conceptual framework”. 

John Biggs – constructive alignment [Homepage] http://www.johnbiggs.com.au/academic/constructive-alignment/

Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching Effectiveness (2013, August 29). Constructive Alignment

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