Teachers & The Information Age

Feb. 24, 2018


Most educators like to start with the small details, instead of the big picture. To facilitate a shift away from the informational model, the authors "propose a return to schooling where education begins with learners and their transformation, where the teacher-student dynamic is spotlighted, where the academic and the social are meant to be connected and combined, and where the social is once again joined with spiritual meaning and transcendence" : "Transformational teaching includes a concern for a person's ultimate welfare and potential, for teaching as well as subjects. This means the way teachers think and learners feel in school transcends the curriculum" . They "define transformational pedagogy as an act of teaching designed to change the learner academically, socially, and spiritually" .

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Of course, as well as increasing the time teachers can devote to encouraging higher level thinking, another benefit is the promotion of intellectual curiosity. By encouraging students to go home and discover new topics for themselves and instilling the enthusiasm to do so, teachers can really lay the groundwork for lifelong learning.

The right technology can make this process more straightforward. VLEs like Canvas, which we use at University of Hull offer features like dynamic, timed release of content to help educators guide progression through a course while still retaining some of that sense of discovery for students.

There is very little new knowledge being created. It may sound controversial - particularly among teachers - but in the digital age of searchable information, people can put together their own learning resources based on what’s already ‘out there’. The idea that we educators are containers of knowledge, dishing out precious facts, is no longer true.

Similarly, the openness of the internet, which is in many senses its greatest strength, also leads to a vast amount of irrelevant information - and even so called 'fake news' - being available too. Educators need to take the approach of carving a ‘walled garden’ within this wild digital landscape, controlling quality and creating a sense of context to accompany the raw facts.

The transformational teaching model represents a major shift from the informational teaching model. Informational teaching involves presenting ideas without regard for a student's ability to make connections to them. High-stakes tests and standards are hallmarks of informational teaching that lead to huge curricula that do not afford students the opportunity to consider concepts in depth. The focus on standardized test scores has obvious consequences: "Focusing on the intellect alone denies children's complete identities. A fulfilled life requires more than intellectual pursuits" . The Information Age has led to informational teaching, which has little concern for deep understanding or values of socialization. Currently, most educators tend to approach teaching from an analysis level, rather than a synthesis level.

By most metrics, the current education system is successful at instilling knowledge in students, but it could be much better at giving them the tools to continue learning throughout life. And a crucial, developing part of education, is giving students the skills to find and be discerning consumers of information.

A transformational approach to teaching results in a high-quality education for today’s learners. Citing theory, research, practice, and their own experiences in teaching K–18 students, Tom Rosebrough and Ralph Leverett build a convincing case for the primacy of student–teacher relationships in productive classrooms. Knowing students well is critical to teaching to their needs.