The Networked Student Response
Why does the "networked student" need a teacher? That is the central question at the end of this video by Wendy Drexler (@wendydrexler). If students in modern times know and understand how to use technology to research, investigate, and learn for themselves, what is the role of a teacher in this type of student's life? The video attempts to answer this question by reevaluating the traditional ideas of what part the teacher plays in the classroom.
In the past (and even today), teachers were simply conveyors of knowledge. They were the central figure in what Dr. Strange calls "Burp-back education." They spoon-fed facts, instructions, information, and assignments to their students who in turn produced the exact response required by them. This takes very little imagination or ingenuity on the student's part and allows the teacher to control every part of the process. However, this traditional teacher would be completely irrelevant to the networked student, which is more likely to be the student we will encounter. Thus, for these students the teacher takes on the role of "learning architect," "modeler," "learning concierge," "change agent," and "connected learning incubator."
As this class progresses, I see myself more in the role of the teacher described in the video. Instead of a transmitting facts and figures, I want to be able to teach my students how to optimally learn on their own. In other words, I want to become a "learning architect" as the video describes. The "learning architect" creates a complex system and network that the students use as a resource to for learning. In this case, it would involve teaching students about acceptable web resources and deciphering academic sources from non-academic. Instead of completely controlling every aspect of the learning process, I would guide students through their own academic experience. In essence, I would not be a teacher but a facilitator.
The teacher-facilitator would become a mentor that would put the emphasis on how to learn instead of merely what to learn. Instead of feeding information, we could help with weeding through information. To accomodate the networked student, we must become the networked teacher. That's the basic idea I got from watching this video. How are we to lead students to the appropriate sources if we don't know what they are? How can we teach students to effectively communicate with other professionals through chat, blogs, email, etc... if we ourselves do not know "web etiquette," or don't stress the importance of professionalism to our students? These types of students already have the skills and the savviness, what they need is someone to help them organize and examine information, connect to others who would be beneficial to their learning network, and shepherd them into a more rewarding experience. It will be hard to be a teacher for these modern students; it gives the students more control. Conversely, it will be more rewarding for both the student and the teacher. The outcome will be students who graduate from "empty buckets" to independent thinkers through this mentoring relationship.
I don't think I am fully prepared to be a networked teacher yet. I also don't think most of the school systems are prepared for this type of student/teacher relationship. Inevitably, the nature of teaching will change because the students will change. I need to purpose in my heart to accomodate those changes in a way that will always be relevant to my students. Understanding the importance of relevancy is a huge part of being a good,networked teacher.