This essay is close examination of the teaching profession in the light of the current development being witnessed in the world today especially in developed countries. The research question or rather statement that this essay attempts to research on is, "Teachers of Today - who they are and what they need to do and know". Teachers play a very significant role in determining the kind of the people that will be in the society and thus any issue touching on teachers is equally significant. This essay will bring out the role of teachers in the society. After showing their significance the essay will show the position of students and how teachers can shift their teaching techniques so as to reach out to the modern student. The essay is generally supported on the argument that teachers need to update their teaching to suit the current generation of students who are perceived to be too technology oriented.
The Current State of Affairs
Various researchers have presented statistics proving that the current students spend a lot of time on technology related issues than on anything else. Online social facilities have become a way of life for most of the young people. According to Prensky (2001) the average college graduate spends less than five thousand hours of his/her live reading; more than ten thousand is spent playing video games and approximately twenty thousand hours watching TV. Technology incorporating computer games internet, email instant messaging and cell phones have become an integral part of these people's lives (Prensky, 2001). This was back in 2001 when this research was carried out. Current research show that nothing much changed and the proportionalities are maintained with the youths continuously spending more time on away from books (Minocha, 2009). This situation is mitigated by the fact that more attractive online social facilities are being developed. Some have argued that with time youth interaction is gradually going virtual as everything is slowly being turned into being e-something. This trend has earned the youth names such as digital natives (Prensky 2001, 1).
In the light of the above, it has been closely observed that teachers have been caught off-guard by this state of affairs. Teachers were not trained to teach students who have the kind of orientation that is being witnessed today. It has also been observed that in most cases teachers are not very receptive to the new way of life as embraced by the students. In the light of this Prensky (2001) has referred to the teachers as being digital immigrants. The trend of the youth spending more time on technology related facilities and the teachers being unwilling to join them has brought out a state of stalemate which calls for attention.
If this stalemate has to be solved there is a need for us to appreciate the fact that teachers are spending less time continuously with their students and therefore lacking the opportunity to shape and educate them. Another fact which requires affirmation is that we can not roll back technological development nor bar the youth from accessing them as that will amount to abuse of human rights. This brings the ball to the teachers court and education policy formulators. They need to dive into the pool and make the situation work out for them. Teachers need to understand that teaching has to be dynamic so as to fit the needs of the students. Therefore teachers need to be dynamic and learn the way of the students and those ways work out for them.
What do teachers need to do then?
If teaching will continue to shape the lives of students then there is a need for teachers to learn the way of students. It has been shown that social software can be used for education purpose unlike the way it tends to be exclusively used for socializing purposes. An extensive study carried out by Minocha (2009) in the UK gave very promising results. The study was carried out to find out how social software can be used effectively support student learning and engagement. The study collected information from 26 initiatives where social software tools were employed. The study incorporated interviews carried out on students as well as teachers. A wide varied of social software were incorporated in the study and the results are explained below.
Facebook and tweeter: these two were used appropriately by teachers to get student feedback. They were used by project members and the supervisors to make frequent updates on the project progress. In Royal Holloway University of London facebook was used to collect student feedback on library refurbishment project. Blogs, Wikis and social bookmarking: these were used to carry self reflection exercises. Wikis were used to develop and present a project. Social booking was used to store and share web-based resources. At the University of Hertfordshire podcasts were used to develop oral skills for physiotherapy practice. Wikis and video conferencing were used on team engineering course. Open studio was used for an online community digital photography students. A blogging support system was set up for trainee teachers at the Nottingham Trent University. It was reported that the blogging was initially set up to enable trainee teachers support each other and was later adapted to encourage socialization before the start of a course and support the development of reflective reporting. At Northumberland college students developed e-portfolio in a wiki on a work based learning course (hair salon service). At Birmingham City University wikis were used to support small group work. At the Anglia Ruskin University computer gaming and video capture was used to teach student filming: students were required to create an animated film to learn about filming and post-production (Minocha, 2009).
As seen from the above list of examples from the study carried out by Minocha (2009) there are many ways in which social software can be used to enhance learning in the field of education. In order for teacher to ensure that students not only uses the socializing software for socializing purpose there is a need for the teachers to embrace the socializing software and then find ways in which they can use the same to enhance learning among students. Prensky (2001) claims that even in some technology institutes some tutors use text to teach instead of using other means which students will appreciate. Though there complains that technology makes students lazy and does not encourage memorizing the challenges still lies with the teachers to invent creative methodologies which can be used to teach the students. Prensky (2001) for instance argues that there should be no debate on whether students should use calculators or computers but rather teachers should focus on teaching math for the future by concentrating on approximation, statistics and binary thinking.
Social online networking has taken most of the student study time. There is need therefore for teachers to embrace this networking and use it enhance classroom learning. Creativity will be required to adapt the social software to make it possible for application in education purpose.