Educators Must Evolve
The world of technology is constantly changing, and of all the spaces in the world of education it requires more dedication from us, the educators, to keep our curricula up-to-date. The problem is that we’re sort of stuck in this traditional mindset that involves 18-24 month release cycles and once-in-a-while updates of applications. However, applications aren’t necessarily considered applications today. They’re by and large considered services, and as more companies follow this SAAS (software as a service) business model, we will be forced to continually update our educational offerings for said products.
How This Impacts Traditional Media in Education
I am not of the mindset that print media is dead (or dying for that matter), but in the world of education print is becoming less of a priority because of its static nature. Textbooks are still a relevant tool for the classroom, but we should be moving towards eBooks that allow for periodic updates of materials as the subject matter and tools continue to evolve throughout the course of our classes.
One of the reasons I have chosen video as my primary focus for my training is because I can easily issue updates and replace chapters/movies in my courses by recording new material when and if needed. By ensuring that we have the ability to expand or append our courses alongside product updates, we ensure that our students have continued access to the most up-to-date and relevant information while developing their skills.
Can you imagine if you tried to learn modern web design by using a book that was printed as far back as last year? The web changes almost daily, and standards and practices are constantly being updated and refined. Yes, there are foundational portions of technology that do not require this type of “on the ball” approach, but as most of us are dealing with some facet of technology that revolves around these SAAS based tools, we have to evolve our workflows and find new ways of presenting our information and sharing our knowledge.
You Should Be Excited, Not Afraid
This is an opportunity for all of us as educators. Many will resist, and many will call me crazy, and that’s ok. You’ll be the ones left behind as we all make our way into this new and exciting world. Treating this as an opportunity as opposed to an impediment will do wonders for you and your students as well. Embracing new technology and teaching methodologies will improve the learning experience for your students and give them much-needed confidence as they enter the workplace.
The Time is Now
This isn’t something you should consider and then just pass off as a fad. Technology is only going to continue to evolve and its rate of progression is more likely to speed up rather than slow down any time soon. Therefore putting a plan in place to deal with this now rather than later will benefit you in the long run.
In many cases your institution (academic or otherwise) may not be setup to deliver this type of instruction or use these types of materials, and that’s ok (for now). However, you should be forward-thinking enough to see that eventually you will have to provide this type of resource to your students, and therefore you should be prepared to implement it when the time does arrive.
How You Can Prepare
Educate yourself. That’s the best piece of advice I can give. Learn as much as you can about presenting your training/teaching in new ways including eBooks, podcasts, blogging, mobile apps, etc. That’s the only way you’re going to stay ahead of the curve. If in the next 6 months to a year, you don’t know how to put your lecture notes on a blog or how to turn those blog posts into a downloadable PDF or EPUB, you’re falling behind.
You should collect email addresses from your students as well. If you’re in a university, that should be relatively easy. By collecting email addresses you make it easy to distribute your new resources and to easily get feedback from your students.
Another must-do item is creating a website. There are a ton of cheap (and free) options for this on the web today, and it will give your students a destination to find you and your materials online. In 2013 nobody should have to track you down during office hours to get notes from yesterday’s lecture.
I realize it’s a scary time for many traditional educators. I assure you it’s equally as scary for us non-traditional educators as well. We admittedly have a leg-up in most cases because we operate in the ever-changing environment that most of you seem to fear. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t face the same issues that you do. We constantly strive to evolve our workflows and teaching methods to suit the need of today’s student. That is what makes this job both frightening and exciting at the same time.
Teaching is often referred to as a “noble profession” but never referred to as an easy one. There’s a reason for that.
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