In the context of participatory learning and Web 2.0, more sweat is on the brow of the student than on the teacher. Didactic instruction is tiring for the teacher and too often boring for the student. The learning is not even as enriching for students when they play a passive role in the learning. It’s their learning; they should be the one directly involved and responsible. When actively engaged in personally meaningful problems of real-world significance, students exert their energies to derive solutions, tinkering with the resources provided by the teacher/facilitator. Students become the primary actors, and teachers merely set the stage. In the interview with Henry Jenkins, Doug Thomas believes that “the role of educators needs to shift away from being expert in a particular area of knowledge, to becoming expert in the ability to create and shape new learning environments.” A defining trait of the learner in a 21-st century classroom is expert knowledge. Students insightfully report on their robust analysis of the problem and the proposed solution, which they derived on their own. Paying homage to the old adage, “Imagination is more important than knowledge,” how can students hone their imaginative abilities unless teachers provide them with the opportunity? Seeing the sparks of imagination fly in the classroom as students zestfully work distinguishes them from the teacher in the modern classroom of Web 2.0 learning.
What do I see as my role in 2025? Equip students to thrive in society. Equip students to adapt to the future, forever in motion. Equip students to resourcefully use their mental capacities and educational training to extend their opportunities through continuous learning. In 2025, these are my roles. To remain professionally limber, I will continue my educational training: workshops, classes, and professional learning communities, to name a few. I can also see my role as a networking coach since “networking is another crucial component of participatory learning”1 (p. 18). Students will need guidance in finding their online communities with which to learn.
Perhaps an even more pressing question is will I even have a job. “From such a process, one learns and continues to learn from others met (if at all) only virtually, whose institutional status and credentials may be unknown”1 (p. 16). Will virtual schools, which potentially require fewer instructors/facilitators, replace the traditional brick and mortar academics? Such a possibility exists. “Of all of these [innovations], Darnton argues, the Internet has had the fastest and the most geographically extensive effect on every aspect of knowledge making and all of the arrangements of life around how we make, exchange, share, correct, and publish our ideas”1 (p. 19). Such an unprecedented radical change requires the restructuring of knowledge creation and acquisition in educational institutions, and perhaps they will receive a mental reconstruction, too.
Now is an exciting time to be an educator. Being on the forefront of this change from didactic teaching to dynamic learning will test our ability as learners to redefine ourselves and adapt.
1 Davidson, C. N. and Goldberg, D. T. (2009). The Future of Learning in a Digital Age.