'The role of teachers needs to be re-thought to catch up with 21st century technology'

Society needs to move beyond 20th century notions of what it means to be a teacher, says Laurence Peters

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Education around the world needs to be revolutionized to put technology at the heart of everything schools do, according to an expert.

The role of teachers should to be re-thought so the profession can catch up with the huge technological advances of recent years, says Laurence Peters, associate professor at John Hopkins University.

Mr Peters, who has written books on the use of technology in both developed and developing countries, believes society needs to move beyond the “20th century notion of the classroom teacher as the sage on the stage and move him or her to be the guide on the side”.

“Although this has been slowly happening, a true 21st century education would use technology far more extensively than most schools currently do to focus teachers’ time on managing the learning process, changing their role from content purveyors to working through the conceptual and other blockages that inhibit good learning,” he said in an interview with The Global Search for Education.

“Everyone’s personal device will be the way they can access the world’s best lectures and tutorials, and interactively engage with online tutors to work just on their own learning issues.”

Technology should allow for a constant stream of feedback on performance, which will help learns develop, he added.

Mr Peters, a former senior policy adviser to the US Department for Education, is a long-standing advocate for the greater use of technology in schools. He is also an expert on the work of the United Nations and the author of ‘The United Nations: History and Core Ideas’.

Technology can empower students in developing countries and help countries meet the UN’s sustainable development goal that everyone has access to quality education and lifelong learning opportunities, said Mr Peters.

“Governments could play an active role here to incentivize the private sector to assist,” said Mr Peters. “Governments could, for example, offer funds for colleges and other training facilities to partner with the private sector to design courses that could assist an organization’s workforce skill needs.”

He is also excited about the work that Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg is doing with the UN to improve internet access around the world.

“He clearly sees market potential in his internet.org to further enrich Facebook – but by throwing satellites up in space he is also creating the necessary pre-conditions for an expanded understanding of global society’s unlimited potential,” said Mr Peters.

The full version of the interview with Laurence Peters first appeared in The Global Search for Education series on CMRubinWorld.  Follow on Twitter @CMRubinWorld

TES has recently launched the free TES Teach app to help teachers create interactive lessons using digital content. For more information please visit www.tes.com/lessons

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