The Changing Role of the Professor in the Digital Era
The rapid evolution of EdTech and digital transformation in the educational sector has had a significant impact on teaching and learning models worldwide.
EdTech has offered a number of platforms and channels geared towards increased engagement, inspiration and improved teaching methodologies in the classroom - and it's been well received.
In fact, 96% of teachers feel that EdTech increases student engagement in learning.
Despite the enormous potential and scope brought about by the rise of the digital era, there are industry skeptics that feel the influence of digital technologies will make students less engaged while diluting the role of professors, creating a certain level of redundancy concerning the lecturing or teaching process.
That said, if you look on the other side of the coin, it’s likely that the evolution of the digital era will actually serve to enhance the role of the professor rather than hinder it.
Until quite recently, professors would rely on print-based textbooks, white or black boards or traditional lecturing to roll out curriculums, teach ideas, skills and concepts or share actionable information. And while these have always been powerful methods of communication, the digital era has opened up a world of immersive possibilities to professors.
Instead of sidelining a professor’s teaching efforts, EdTech-inspired innovations like Google’s Geo Earth Expeditions and online-based VR platforms or applications have given professors the chance to make their lectures far more inspiring and immersive than ever before.
For instance, a marine biology professor can now add an extra dimension of depth to their lecture on Hawaii’s aquatic landscapes by tapping into an immersive expedition on Geo Earth, taking their students, virtually, to the very destination being discussed, placing the classroom at the heart of the narrative. This approach is often more effective than a simple speech or text book.
Expanding on our previous point, the development of digital technologies has also given creative professors the tools to push the boundaries of the way they teach in the classroom.
Not only can professors now utilize voice technology and AI-driven innovations to offer a more multi-dimensional experience during lectures while giving their students a more personalized experience when it’s time to conducting personal reading and exercises, but the advancement of customized applications can help a teacher expand their reach outside the classroom.
At present, governments in the US, the UK, and China are actively supporting educational institutions in the adoption of e-learning and m-learning models to give them access to learning communities, information, support and resources outside of the classroom - meaning that with a little creative intervention, it’s possible to help your students assist their learning in their free time, expanding the educational experience that one step further.
When it comes to teaching, engagement is the key to success. That said, in the digital era, a professor can use engaging, interactive platforms to spark conversations, encourage student interaction and keep everyone interested in the learning experience.
With a wealth of online assessment tools, interactive polls and quizzes, and inspiring web-based learning games (for all ages and levels of academic prowess), a professor stands to drive more engagement than ever - tapping into today’s ‘gamification’ mindset while offering genuine value on a consistent basis.
Circling back to the quote at the beginning: technology or not, what makes a teacher great is his or her desire to inspire, engage, create and teach students in a way that will enhance their lives. And if you’re one of those professors, as we’ve explored here, the digital era will not render you obsolete - it will make you more powerful than ever.
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