Third Eye

Teachers’ role in future learning is evolving

Monday, October 5th, 2020 00:00 |
Pupils in class. Photo/Courtesy

Today marks World Teacher Day, whose theme is Teachers: Leading in Crisis, reimagining the future.

The day, October 5,  marks the anniversary of the signing of the 1966 ILO/Unesco Recommendation concerning the Status of  Teachers.

The Covid-19 crisis is a pivotal point in the transformation of the global education and school system. 

Shutdowns and social distance concerns have mainstreamed virtual education and accelerated the adoption of digital learning management systems (LMS). 

Classrooms are the new content hubs with teacher roles now evolving to include content production and management. 

However, many teachers lack adequate resources and skills to implement digital learning.

 From the outset of the pandemic, majority of teachers were largely unprepared to support continuity of learning and adapt to new teaching methodologies.

According to a policy brief by the United Nations titled Education During Covid-19 and beyond, distance learning in low income countries is less than 50 per cent.

This is largely due to the digital divide, lack of electricity and low levels of digital literacy among students, parents and teachers. 

The International Task Force on Teachers For Education 2030 points out that in sub-Saharan Africa, only 64 per cent and 50 percent of primary and secondary teachers have received minimum training and this does not include ICT skills. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for more trained teachers and prioritising digital information literacy is crucial in adjusting to the new normal. 

Achieving digital fluency encompasses literacy in three key areas. Technology literacy is the ability to select and effectively use digital hardware and software.

Information literacy is the ability to access, manage and analyse digital data. 

Critical literacy is the ability to reflectively question the context in which digital objects are made, accessed and distributed.

The adaptability of teachers in implementing digital learning has been commendable.

The use of learning management systems such as Google Classroom, Edmodo, Blackboard Learn and Schoology are gaining traction as well the deployment of popular social media platforms and video meeting software.

However, more needs to be done in terms of quality and improving student engagement.

Video, animation, infographics and gamification are some of the tools already being incorporated in digital lessons.  

At a time when schools are contemplating reopening, debates on adjusting to the new normal should not only focus on school funding and well-being of teachers, but also on teacher skilling and learning.

Teacher training curriculum reform should be an urgent implementation priority.

A focus on industry certifications such as Adobe can foster creativity and enable continuing career development.   

Education is a sustainable development goal and key fundamental human right. 

Currently, there are huge implementation challenges in the public school system, especially in rural and marginalised areas.

Solving issues relating to access and quality of education is a goal we should all aspire to.

Engaging and supporting educators in creating learners who are future ready can be done through #WorldTeachersDay.   The writer is Screen Media Producer —  [email protected]

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