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Adapting to the changing teaching landscape

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Some academics believe intelligent machines will soon replace teachers. But our research has found that the demand for teachers will actually increase. However, the skills you’ll need to get, and keep, a job will change.

We predict a 73% increase in jobs within the education sector. And it’s possible that tech-savvy graduates entering the future workforce will be favoured by employers over the educators who don’t adapt to technological change. So what can you do to maintain your competitive edge? The key is to focus on the following three skills: learning strategies, instruction and active listening.


1. Learning strategies

‘learning strategy’ is the way a student learns content and completes a task. And for a long time, students only learned different learning strategies as a by-product of teaching. But by 2030, teachers will be expected to explicitly teach students how to learn by teaching them different learning strategies. This expectation is mirrored in the digital learning resource Revel™, which incorporates key principles of learning design that have been informed by insights drawn from substantial research into how students learn best.

So, how can you teach learning strategies?

  1. Working in pairs or small groups encourages decision‐making, communication and conflict management skills without always relying on the teacher.
  2. Elaborative activities like asking students to invent analogies for facts that have to be learned, encourage both the understanding and remembering of new knowledge. This encourages students to create links between new and existing knowledge.
  3. Metacognitive activities ask students to monitor and reflect on their own thinking and learning. Getting students to reflect can be difficult, particularly given the shorter time frame and capacity for learning that today’s students can have. Some digital learning resources have features such as deliberate content formatting, end of chapter quizzes and integrated writing tools that allow educators to promote reflection directly within the content, creating a seamless learning experience.

2. Instructing

Lectures, direct instruction and problem-based learning are some well-known examples of current instruction techniques. But in the future, learning will be less about teachers transferring their knowledge directly to the student through instruction, and more about student involvement in the process.

Flipped learning embraces technology and not only places students at the centre of their learning but also provides them with real skills they can apply in the workplace. Given that current (let alone future) workplaces provide their information digitally, digital instructing and flipped learning should be used by educators that want to promote true employability and involve the student in the creation of their own knowledge via digital formats.

More and more resources are making it easier for educators to embrace flipped learning. For example, medical students at the University of New South Wales use virtual patients to develop diagnostic and clinical skills. They learn from mistakes with no consequences for real patients and without the need to be at university.

Revel is a fully digital, interactive reading and learning resource that can be used to facilitate flipped learning in all classrooms, with useful features for educators like a ‘digital assignment calendar’ and a ‘performance dashboard’. These tools align to the way today's students read, think, and learn, and promote the development of skills that your students will use in the workforce. The importance of a flipped classroom is becoming more understood as more research is conducted into the future of workplaces and classrooms.


3. Active listening

Active listening is a multi-step process that goes beyond simple hearing to a deeper connection between speaker and listener, as the listener gives the speaker full attention through reflection, respect, and empathy. It was originally developed as a counselling technique, but is now used in nursing, business management and teaching.

  1. Listening for ideas, implications and feelings, as well as facts being conveyed.
  2. Interpreting the underlying message with no judgement.
  3. Evaluating what is being said by reflecting on the information presented.
  4. Responding when the speaker finishes talking to reassure them that you have been giving your full attention. To do this, you can ask for clarification, more information, or smile/nod.

Listening plays a crucial role in teacher-student communication, so development of this skill is crucial for building positive relationships and maintaining the emotional well-being of everyone in the classroom, including the teacher.

Digital tools are making it easier for educators to apply the steps listed above in their own classrooms. For example the University of the Sunshine Coast management lecturer, Dr Wayne Graham, runs a flipped classroom with a heavy focus on active learning with the digital platform Revel.

Dr Graham currently uses Revel as his core learning resource and found that it allowed him to better interact with his students. Students completed activities while they learned, and Dr Graham was able to monitor their progress with formative assessment tools and performance tracking. 76% of his students said Revel helped prepare them to actively listen and engage in lectures and tutorials.


Tech is important, but humans are key

We know automation will change the role of an educator: so teachers should let the machines do their thing and focus on developing skills that are unlikely to be automated if they want to compete in the job market of 2030.

If you can adapt to the new digital landscape, you’re more likely to get to keep doing what you love best - but it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll be able to create a deeper learning experience for your students.

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