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Take a moment to remember an inspirational teacher who has made an impact on your life. Visualize them. What did they look like? How did their voice sound? What sort of things did they say?
It won’t come as a surprise to find that it’s easy to bring that teacher into your mind, even after so many years. You might not have seen them for many years, but they are still there as a small voice, a memory that has helped to form you into the person that you are today.
Humanity behind the machine
This much we know to be true: people empower people. Teachers empower students to follow their passions. To be creative, productive people, and to learn new things that they never knew they could learn. But the role of the teacher in the 21st century has changed, in the same way that our technology and the way that we relate to each other has changed. When your goal is to transform learning environments from the classroom to online learning, one of the biggest challenges is finding the humanity behind the machine. Both professors and students need to adapt to the many changes in the world of education.
Inspiration and cultivation
Professors have become facilitators. It is no longer enough for a professor to get up on a podium and spout their knowledge in the hope that some of their wisdom will stick. A professor must be engaging and ultimately, instead of handing the material to the student to memorize for the final exam, the teacher must guide them through their own realizations and understanding of the subject matter. The style of teaching online, therefore, must be adapted. Teaching becomes more flexible and much more personal. A professor is expected to guide a student, not just through the process of the discovery of the material, but also to the discovery of their own potential.
Therefore, a professor is expected to work hard to ensure their students not only learn about the key concepts of the course, but also learn to use the necessary technology. Professors ensure students use the most appropriate tools, while giving constructive feedback, so they feel accompanied at all times. Optimal learning happens when students have a safe, constructive, online platform. Students are not only visiting a virtual campus. They also need a personal space for community, or collaboration areas to really thrive. This is the human behind the machine, and a strong online community leads successful students who feel supported throughout their studies. Student capability assessments not only include the student’s knowledge in their field, but also their ability to use relevant technology.
A safe and sound online platform
The role of the student has changed as well. Students are now the owners of their own journey, and it is easy for them to forget about the human community behind digital technologies. It is important, in online learning, to keep the human component. This is achieved through live webinars or group work in class. And, of course, student skills have evolved. Now, students are required to have some technological skills prior to starting their course, ensuring they will be able to follow along without any problems. Students need basic knowledge on keeping safe and secure online. What must a student do to keep themselves safe when learning online? How can they ensure their privacy and what achievements can be made in the online platform? These are all questions that both professors and students need to consider.
We can already see the results of online education. Everyone knows someone close to them that has studied online, either in part or fully.
Some deep learning competencies include:
- Critical thinking
Online learning at the forefront
The added benefits of online learning, such as familiarity and comfort with technology and improved communication skills, as well as the new roles that students and professors undertake in online education, will push online learning to the forefront of education, making quality education accessible to all interested students.
Our students now collaborate with people around the world, so it is important that, as the system changes, education providers and students learn how to be productive, how to keep information and protect it, how to communicate effectively and how to be a positive influence in an increasingly connected world.