Future teachers

Digital learning will change teachers’ jobs, but we’ll still need teachers, writes Michael Horn in Forbes.

As blended learning grows in K–12 education, it is not eliminating teachers, but eliminating certain traditional job functions of teachers. This change in the role of the teacher is, as others and I have noted, in part about allowing computers to do what computers do well to free up teachers to do what only humans can do.

. . . It appears likely that there will be more room for teachers to focus on deeper learning by working with students on higher-order skills and the application of knowledge in rich projects. Teachers should spend less time handling mundane administrative tasks that suck up time and less time delivering one-size-fits-none lesson plans. Teachers will have far more time to work with students one-on-one and in small groups and target their interactions in more meaningful ways.

Many blended-learning schools are unbundling teachers’ roles, Horn writes.

Some teachers serve as content experts and others as mentors and learning coaches. Some focus on tutoring, whereas others specialize in small-group projects or on making the learning relevant to the outside world. Still others act as case workers or counselors (but actually spend the majority of their day in the learning environment with students) to focus on the non-academic problems—like food, health, or emotional issues—that too often trip up students (and sadly receive short shrift in many schools today).

Unbundling has enabled Rocketship Education to pay teachers more. At Summit Public Schools, a team of teachers works with students in a large learning environment.

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  1. I wonder how novelists would react if someone told them that digital technology would make it so that they no longer need to focus on writing a coherent body of writing that expresses the ideas they wish to get across in the manner in which they feel best expresses those ideas. Just think, digital technology can be used to make novels more relevant and customized to readers desires and interests.

    As a chemistry teacher, I view it as my job to help students dig deep and learn the Body of Knowledge known as chemistry. This is not simply a list of skills and facts that can be useful to humans, but a theoretical framework for understanding the structure and function of matter, as well as how we developed this theoretical framework.

    I’m not anti-tech, and I often use online homework for specific skill practice, but most blended learning I have witnessed pretty much breaks the subject into skills to know and practice. This probably works for most chemistry classrooms, because simply learning the skills and performing inquiry was the point before technology, but not for a classroom focused on looking at chemistry as a body of knowledge.