I was wondering today about a diet program I am following. It is working fine and helping me a lot. However, this post is about the services offered and not the diet. I just recognized that the model followed resembles how business in the knowledge age will look like. You pay for buying smart items based on knowledge. Let me elaborate.
In my younger years, my mom used to send me to buy her groceries from the convenience store next door. The owner was an illiterate person who uses his own signs and doodles to keep track of his account. His only expertise was knowing what price to tag the food based on the hour of the day to avoid spoiling them. He would talk about politics, who had a fight in the neighborhood and maybe what ingredients a recipe needs. Simple man.
In modern days, this has changed. The diet shop is an example. The lady who is running the shop is well versed with nutrition and diets. She gives advice and suggests eating programs based on who you are. Her advice and time is free. She makes her money from selling the right food that suits the customer nutritional needs and diet. Every thing you expect to find in a traditional convenience grocery: Eggs, Soups, desserts, sweet bars, drinks, condiments… Except that the seller is knowledgeable. Her advice is free, but you pay for the products she sells!
What an evolution. Nice merger between making money from selling products and selling knowledge and information. How will this merger be applied in other business areas? Hair cutting? Banking system? Above all, in the classroom? Something to ponder upon.
Do you agree their roles [educators] are changing? If so, what are appropriate responses?
Yes, obviously, the educators role is changing. I believe that modern educators should assume one of four roles in a given situation:
Educator as a teacher. That is an educator who directs the learner to learn what the teacher knows, in the precise way the teacher wants. For example: teachers at primary levels who teach basic skills like communication, arithmetic and the like; soldiers in the army the priest who teaches faith; the trainer who trains industrial operations and so on. I might disagree with this category, but the society and economy still needs them. In this category, the educator will assess competency in a specific area or skill. So, the assessment will be based on the level of mastery of the concept and the evaluation is norm based.
Educator as a facilitator: That is an educator who allows learners to grow intellectually based on the learners abilities and actualities. For example: teachers in art disciplines like architecture or design; teachers in elementary education who focus on students abilities and not weaknesses, personal development specialists, clinical psychiatrists, Doctors teaching medical students, etc. In this category, the educator will assess each learner individually without comparison to other learners. The norm evaluation does not apply here.
Educator as a “Connector”: This is a new emerging role that shifting the basis of certainty is driving. This is an educator who facilitates expanding the “connectivity” of another person– both “brain-wise” and social-wise. In contrast to the two previous categories, the general tendency in this pardigm is that the topic to be taught is irrelevant. The focus is on incremental knowledge acquired by the learner, no matter what the topic is. For example, a primary school teacher training students on acquiring knowledge when needed and as needed without memorizing it; a trainer who helps adult to break out from the traditional learning habits (i.e. learning happens in classroom or libraries) to become a learner through interacting with individuals or Internet entities through new habits of using technology. This new role necessitates the creation of new assessment models that assess the level of expansion in the person’e network. This is still in its infancy.
Educator as a phantom: This is a new concept that I find difficulty explaining. With the emergence of the concept that knowledge resides in human and in machines, I cannot imagine why we need educators. People and machines should be able to learn on their own. They do not need educators as long as they have developed themselves to be “connected”. This is why I believe any learner who graduate from the third category (i.e. Educator as a “Connector”) will not need any more educators to build new knowledge. Right?
Note: For the sake of simplicity, I will use the term “traditionalist” to refer to the learners influenced by the first two roles, and the “Connectivist” to refer to learners influenced by the last two roles. Whether a person can be both types is out of the scope of this post.
What are impediments to change?
In my opinion, change has happened already. Nothing can stop it. “Connectivists” are around us. They are effective in Wikipedia, working in the Open Source realm, and recently, they were revolting in Egypt. However, three factors are slowing the process of recognizing and accepting the change:
(1) Each compares each other using the wrong rules. Each type condemsn the other type based on their own value set. Traditionalists have many argument why connectivists will never prevail because they are not connectivists themselves and they do not have connectivist attitude nor competancies. Conversely, connectivists find traditionalists wastes so much time on learning information that is obsolete. It is like the traditions “The West is the West and the East is the East and they will never meet!”.
(2) The strong drive of the people concerned to have a single unified system that works in all situation, where only one method should prevail. In other words, the need to have a system that fits to the accepted norm. I think following “Give God what is for God, and Caesar what is for Caesar” model is far more effective.
(3) The two type refuse to interact together. For example, a “Connectivist” will never participate in a course like MOOC (and if they do, they drop out quickly) because they find such a course too limiting. While a traditionalis will not get involved in an activity like Wikipedia because it defies their basic beliefs.
How can current trends be best utilized to serve in the traditional role of educator or designer?
For the traditional educator role, the best approach is to do nothing. The “Connectivist” group did not reach a critical mass to induce a global change (except in Egypt!). When their number is large enough, the change will be more prominent.
On the designer front, I think we need to evolve existing models, like Bloom’s taxonomy, to include a “connectivist” level with a new set of action verbs that address the activities of “collaboration”, “connectivism”, “mining for information”, “use of technology” and so on. I think this should be a Phd level research which is too much for this post.
Take this opportunity to enjoy a creative stroll in rethinking “what could be”.
My “Would be” scenario is to ensure that educators at the pre-high school level to be a “teacher/connector” type who focus on teaching the basic communication and intellectual skills, at the same time, train the young children how to become connected. At high school, educators should be less teachers role and more connectors. After high school, learners choose can one of three paths:
(1) either join a “teaching college” where they are taught specific concept of their choice through pure teaching (like in Priesthood, Army or apprenticeship),
(2) Join univeristies where learner receive facilitation to grow personally and intellectually OR
(3) Choose to learn on their own through connective approaches based on the talents they have already mastered and developed. Usually these will be the one who will make te esay money. Watch “Social Media” movie.
The FCC released the “white spaces” – the unused spectrum between broadcast television channels — will lead to a so-called “Super Wi-Fi” or “Wi-Fi on steroids.” This means we will have “80 Mbps and above long-range wireless speeds and 400-800 Mbps short-range wireless networks. Perhaps this means that wireless Internet can now actually be “faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound”. Google chipped in to utilize the bandwidth.
Very soon we will access WiFi like we get radio signal: everywhere!