eLearning Africa Conference: Day 2

eLearning Africa Conference: Day 2

This raised an interesting question around the role of the teacher in the 21st Century classroom. Is the teacher the tour guide or the tourist attraction itself?

For example, a tour guide can walk a group of tourists through the Empire State Building, offer a little history, a smattering of interesting facts, some advice and even perspective and guidance about what is good, bad, difficult or easy, as well as what is avoidable and what is essential.

The tourists are then left to explore the building on their own. At this juncture it would be really helpful if there were information stands at regular intervals along the way that allowed the tourists to ask questions as they made their way to the top of the building.

Is the role of the tour guide therefore not the role of the teacher or is this approach not simply the old tried and ‘failed’ Outcomes Based Education system? The goal or ‘outcome’ is to get to the top of the building, so let’s steer them in the right direction rather than hold their hands and lead them to the top.

Education by exploration

What exactly is this notion of education by exploration? Is technology a new tool in the same pedagogy or is it a new pedagogy altogether? We at SACOB think that at the moment, it is a tool, although it will undoubtedly become a new pedagogy in the future.

Let’s take an app that teaches a child about building blocks of DNA for instance. Do we leave the child to discover how the app works by themselves or does the teacher need to guide her through the app?

The value of teaching is to provide insight, tips, guidance, tools, questions and answers. For the Baby Boomer generation the teacher’s role was to provide content.

How many students have sat in a 500-strong Economics lecture jostling for a seat and then frantically scribbling down the lecturer’s every word? Nowadays that approach would be considered a complete waste of time as the content is readily available everywhere. In its un-sourced, un-aggregated, unpackaged and non-quality assured form, it is free and if you choose to pay you’d receive a refined and aggregated version of it.

The flipped classroom

There is much talk about the flipped classroom, but what is it exactly and more to the point, is it even a new concept? Simply put, a flipped classroom is when content acquisition takes place outside of the classroom and the engagement within. While this differs from the traditional model, it is by no means a new approach. In fact, many inspired lecturers have using this method of teaching for years.

The flipped classroom has also been described as student-centered rather than lecturer-centered learning, but so long as the engagement continues to take place in the classroom we believe the lecturer (especially inspired lecturers) remains central to the learning process.

The difference however, is that the inspired lecturer acts more like a coach, supervisor, facilitator or leader, therefore we prefer terms such as lecturer-coached, lecturer-supervised, lecturer-facilitated or lecturer-led education.

Student centered education gives the impression that there is no lecturer on hand to coach, guide, supervise, facilitate or lead and flipped or not, inspired lecturers form a vital component of the classroom. At the end of the day the role of the teacher is not simply to deliver content, but rather to stimulate and facilitate the internalisation thereof.