In the 20th century, one of the most important roles for the teacher was to provide knowledge and content; knowledge was mostly a hidden “commodity” merely found in printed books and in the mind of the teacher. However, in the 21st century, knowledge is available online with easy access, and with new advanced technology, the opportunities and requirements of learning has changed drastically. Students often feel overwhelmed by information and they experience an increased pressure to perform outstanding in every single moment of their studies. Therefore, a teacher’s job is not primarily to hold and distribute knowledge but also, to focus on facilitation, motivation, as well as to monitor and manage students’ learning and development. Another important task for teachers is to set goals with students, and to serve as role model by showing industry success stories, and to counsel and guide learners for better decision making.
A 21st century teacher adds value by suggesting specific tasks, articles and text books depending on each student’s individual needs, learning capability and study pace. A 21st century teacher adds value by ensuring that most suitable information and technology are used by students to maximize their learning and minimize early drop-outs. A great 21st century teacher is not just a teacher talking about what is written in the literature, or what can be found online, but a teacher that brings the business world to the classroom, by showing personal business success stories. Few schools understand this value, and many classes end up in theoretical and outdated discussions that do not help students to succeed in their careers. In the 21st century, students need to understand how to find best possible information on shortest time, how to critically evaluate the information/data and how to apply taught methodologies and concepts; this to reach an outcome, within a certain time frame, and according to predefined quality criteria that also meets industry standards. This is vital, because the industry expects these characteristics from 21st century graduates.
Technology in the classroom
A second big trend is the use of technology. In this section, I place emphasis on students development when using 21st century technologies. Appropriate use of technology can minimize learners study burden and stress factor while maximizing the learning potential. The elimination of printed textbooks and the implementation of digital curricula are becoming more important when seeking effective and efficient learning practices. Tools such as Endomondo and Google classroom enable effective sharing of assignments, due dates, and classroom announcements. Similar tools make it easy to find and distribute online educational content, to create groups, assign homework and schedule quizzes. Textbooks, digital resources, and assessments are integrated to give tailored exercises and personalized knowledge, depending on pupil’s needs at any given point in time. Cloud computing makes it possible for learners to access assignments, curricula, readings and support material digitally, regardless of time and location. Suggested tools include Dropbox, Google drive and Amazon cloud. Students collaborate, share files and interact virtually which makes the intake and transformation of new information less cumbersome and more productive. Another growing in popularity phenomena is the “BYOD”; bring your own device. Besides cost benefits for the business, pupils can use their own devices such as tablet, smartphone or laptop to access and complete tasks at their convenience.
A 21st century modern, and attractive educational institute needs to provide areas of studies that reflect present and future industry demand. Tailored, and industry specific knowledge is the foundation for a students’ ability to thrive and succeed in future careers. At present, many corporations are forced to shut down or move overseas as a result of not finding suitable skills; K12 international schools in the 21st century shall therefore awake curiosity and provide knowledge and the “know-how” in areas sought by the industry. In my view, this is best done by a teacher who knows how to teach and who has the experience working in the corporate world of the subject being taught. I still remember my mobile lecturer on the engineering program at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden; he had been working for 30 years in the corporate world with GSM related assignments, and at KTH, he learned how to teach engineering students to solve problems, think critically, and pass exams – often in a fun and engaging manner. I scored extremely high on this module because I found his classes very explanatory and useful.
In my previous industry experience, and in roles such as: project executive, business manager and lecturer, I got to understand where the demand for jobs will be in the future. These include but not limited to: biotechnology, biomedicine, robotics, big data, analytics, internet of things, IT security, agile leadership, digital leadership, digital client management, Java programming, cloud engineering, and 5G systems integration. Additional areas are creative art, digital designers, and psychologists because they require a human spirit and human feelings which are more difficult for a robot to replicate. A highly attractive and valuable 21st century international educational institute therefore needs to reflect future industry demand in its curricula for young learners who seek to become successful university students and industry professionals with advanced research skills and knowledge that are useful when gaining confidence and respect in a global economy.
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Copyright © 2019. Anthony Eric. Antonios Papadimitriou. All rights reserved.