Prince Paa-Kwesi Heto, Department of Political Science
How is the technological revolution changing the world of education and the art of teaching? The easy access to information due to the Internet and changing hiring practices are transforming education in fundamental ways, which makes student-centered pedagogies a must, not a choice.
This revolution is a welcomed one. It is offering educators the chance to redefine the purpose of education and to dethrone the narrative that the chief aim of education is to prepare students to be competitive in the global economy.
The Technological Disruption in Education
For a long time, what goes on in the classroom depended, to a large extent, on teachers. For example, they decided how knowledge is presented to students. They judged student learning and importantly, they either helped students discover the joy of learning or ruined their educational experience.
Under the traditional model of schooling, teachers still help students become aware of information or acquire the vocabulary to describe the things they see and experience. To this end, the educator served as the conduit through whom students access knowledge. This model allowed instructors to have a monopoly over knowledge since they were the gatekeepers to the vault of knowledge.
The Internet, however, opened the gates and laid bare the contents of the vault. Students who have the means can now access the vault without the physical and bureaucratic infrastructure of schools.
By making it easier for people today to have access to knowledge, the Internet is forcing teachers to shed their gatekeeping duties. According to Germain (2011), the role of an educator is no longer a knowledge provider or giver; rather, the educator is a content curator and facilitator who helps students make connections between the courses they teach, other subjects, and the outside world.
Changing Hiring Practices
Another revolution that is stripping away the power of educators and educational institutions is the turn towards skill-based hiring practices rather than certificate-based practices. The shift from show-us-your-papers to show-us-what-you-can-do is the biggest threat to the education industry. Significantly, this trend is undermining the message that going to school and getting a certificate is the surest way to attain higher socioeconomic status.
In the modern economy, a college degree no longer guarantees upward mobility. For example, the success stories of entrepreneurs, like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg – none of whom earned a college degree based on coursework, reinforce the notion that schools are not the only means to acquire knowledge.
These subtle, yet significant changes, call for a sober reflection on what the purpose of education is.
Under these circumstances, educational institutions can stay relevant if they stop preparing students for college and career, and instead start helping them acquire the skills they need for their lifelong happiness (Makiguchi, 1980). Preparing students for life requires teachers to work collaboratively to determine what each student need to be happy in all aspects of their life.
The key to do this is through fostering understanding and deliberative scholarship. For instance, teachers would need to teach students how to think and dialogue with the author of books instead of teaching them how to regurgitate and find fault with arguments (Fulbright, 2018).
Active learning techniques can help in this regard. It reminds teachers to focus on helping students to 1) develop the skills they need to access the vaults of knowledge, 2) understand the nuances embedded in the information they encounter, 3) hone their ability to discern, and 4) create their own knowledge by forming or identifying new connections daily (Culver, 2019; Lau & Ikeda, 2017).
Makiguchi, T. (1980). Soka kyoikugaku taikei (Vol. 4). Tokyo, Japan: Seikyo Shimbunsha
Matthew Mahavongtrakul edited this post on June 10th, 2019.