That’s a question with varying answers.
But before addressing the question, a bit of background is necessary. Let’s back track to some not-too-distant past…When missionaries brought ‘education’ (quote intentional) to parts of the developing world, and the concept of a ‘teacher’ was that of a white man in khaki shorts, shirt and a hat wielding a bible under one arm and sometimes textbooks in the other. The role was pretty much simple at that time; teach the natives basic literacy skills that enabled them comprehend the materials used in evangelizing.
The role of a teacher in such an era seemed quite simple, however, things have evolved. Fast-forward into this present age of microwaves and fast cars, a teacher’s role seems to get more complex by the day. Electronic whiteboards and projector screens fight for attention in the classroom as mobile phones constantly invade the peace of lectures at the expense of testing the teacher’s long-suffering attitude. As they say, we are in an era of Always-On, Always-Connected, where internet connectivity is no longer a luxury or add-on but a fundamental human right.
The integration of technology in education via several massive open online courses (MOOCs) which allow students learn at their own pace is a hot debate topic these days as to whether teachers will still remain relevant in the coming years or not. The answer is a big emphatic YES; however, with a condition: TEACHERS MUST EVOLVE (emphasis intentional).
This topic when done right should take a 10-page journal. But please permit me to commit the grave offence of summarising in few lines. Technology affords teachers a range of options to ensure a learning environment that stimulates students’ creativity as opposed to just pouring out information while students play a passive role in the classroom.
Teachers must move from the role of just disseminators to facilitators in the classroom and there are a range of tools these days that allow for such facilitation of learning while delivering maximum impact. How do I mean?
Teacher as Disseminator
Picture a public school in Mushin area of Lagos, Nigeria which we will call ‘Jeleosinmi Grammar School’ where Mr Akpan teaches Chemistry. Mr Akpan comes in the morning with his lecture note which he has used to teach the parents of his current students and dictates notes from this book while also jotting chemical formulas on a chalkboard. Same content, minimal reviews, students are basically spoon-fed and this happens at fixed times based on the weekly time-table.
Teacher as Facilitator
Picture same school described above, Mr Akpan brings a picture of a chemical formula for a compound and divides the class into groups. He then shows an animated 3D model of the compound via the school’s learning platform. These groups are then given the task of coming up with 10 applications of this compound and present findings to the class. Mr Akpan allows students flexibility of choosing their submission formats, either via a project-based approach in a group setting or each student blogging about his findings on the school’s micro-blogging platform.
In the 2 examples above, the method and approach is what defines the teacher and not necessarily the technology in use. For instance, the teacher could have still played a disseminator role by dictating from powerpoint slides (technology usage), but the lecture is more impactful when he takes a Facilitator role thereby delivering rich learning experiences.
As simple as it may sound, it is very essential that disseminating knowledge and facilitating the flow go hand in hand. The sad reality is that a great percentage of teachers are either not trained or under-trained in most parts of Africa and this remains on the front burner of global discussions in education. Government must not just invest in infrastructure but also on Teachers who are instrumental to moulding the lives of our future leaders.
EyeCity is coming up with an ICT competency teacher training program for primary and secondary school teachers in January 2016 and we will appreciate your interest in recommending schools near you or registering as a volunteer participant. Our training track is aligned with the UNESCO ICT Competency framework.
Kindly indicate interest by completing a short questionnaire.