Technology is only as good as the people who use it. Same as education is only as good as the people who teach. With rapid digital advances in personal computing and social networking, teachers need to adapt just as quickly to put these developments into good use in the classroom. Technology makes the tools, but what are the general characteristics that make an effective educator for the 21st century?
No need to leave the classroom
One of the key characteristics of a 21st-century educator is their ability to create opportunities using technology to immerse the classroom environment to the outside world. Voice over IP (VoIP) technology used in corporate video conferencing is readily available to teachers today. As simple as hooking up tablets or smartphones to Skype using a 4G LTE connection, educators can engage the class in real-time online lectures with other students outside the United States. You can also bring the students on a virtual documentary tour of foreign countries and historic sites through the use of HD video streaming websites such as Youtube. With new technologies that connect countries to the global network, communication has been made easy between students and teachers anywhere.
Open-minded learning and teaching
To be a 21st-century educator, one must have the willingness to learn new technologies on their own as well as from other teachers, and even their students. An effective teacher must be aware and consequently, open to the fact that in this age, even young people are exposed to technology, and are at times better versed at such devices than adults. The open-minded educator always looks for learning opportunities even from the most unlikely sources. With online social networking channels such as Google Hangout and Facebook, teachers can collaborate easily with fellow educators from different backgrounds, levels of specialization and even disciplines. Through collaboration, teachers can learn and adopt others’ personal classroom techniques and methods that can be useful in enhancing their own styles of instruction.
Engaging student participation beyond listening and reading
The key to a successful teaching lies with the students themselves. Rather than subjecting students to hour-long boring lectures, the 21st-century educator engages them in a much deeper aspect of the learning process. How? By encouraging students to participate in lesson design, students are empowered to become more open with their interests to teachers. Besides boosting student activity, collaborative lesson design helps students enjoy the learning experience as a whole, and promotes creativity, as well as teamwork. Interestingly, one additional benefit of this approach is that teachers are given alternatives to the usual teaching methods, further adding to the flexibility of instruction.
Injecting the fun factor
With the improved student participation, teachers can then employ non-traditional approaches to further incite interest in learning. Rather than popping out a usual quiz, why not bust out a vocabulary battle with game apps on the students’ tablet PCs? Games for one are sure attention-grabbers that students are profoundly interested in. With a huge selection of apps with high educational value, integrating game-based approaches to classroom instruction allows for a much more interactive and fun learning experience.
Teachers need to evolve as fast as technology does. By adopting an open mind and awareness on the rapidly-developing technologies and their possible uses in classroom instruction, teachers become future-ready for the 21st century. Are you a successful modern techie teacher? Tell us your success story.
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Image at top of post by tjmwatson (Tess Watson)