Personalized Learning is getting a lot of attention these days. It is not all positive attention as parents and teachers push back against it. It is not the purpose of this article to identify the entities promoting Personalized Learning or why. Those entities are not promoting Personalize Learning because parents and teachers have asked for it. If those promoting Personalized Learning have their way, the teaching profession will change in unimaginable ways. There are groups of non-educators who are imagining and forecasting the future of the teacher’s role. It is always possible their utopian thinking may lead to dystopian practices.
The teaching profession has slowly been undergoing change as more responsibilities have been folded into a teacher’s role. The role of teachers is changing at an accelerated pace and there is a call for different types of learning agents. One only has to look at the graphic “A Glimpse into Future of Learning” to realize it does not call for instruction to be delivered in the traditional manner by regular classroom teachers. So, what will the future role of teachers or learning agents look like? Without a reliable crystal ball, I don’t think anyone really knows. There are foundations, think tanks, and speculators who imagine they know and have mapped out possible roles. Information will be provided here, with links to additional information, about some of those possible roles.
To meet the needs of the forecasted future learning ecosystem portrayed in the graphic “A Glimpse into Future of Learning,” the teaching profession will need to morph into various learning agent roles.
Teachers and learning agents of the future may or may not have an education or training as an education professional.
Let’s explore some of the possible learning agent roles. Information presented here came from the indicated documents. You are encouraged to download the documents to get more detailed information. Interlock may account for the similarities in roles presented in various documents.
Recombinant Education: Regenerating the Learning Ecosystem presents the following information about Learning Agents:
“”As we regenerate the learning ecosystem, the number and type of learning agents will expand dramatically. Existing educators will redefine their professional roles to match their strengths. In addition, developers, entrepreneurs, and technologists will create new roles and opportunities for themselves. Successful learning agents will:
- Use and create multi-layered visual dashboards to discern meaning from learning analytics that guide instruction and communicate progres
- Integrate technology to customize learning on a continuous basis and to make performance predictions that allow for early interventions designed to prevent failures and drop-outs
- Collaborate with other learning agents and use community and global resources to facilitate engaged learning that ignites students’ intrinsic motivation and builds students’ core knowledge and essential skills
- Integrate performance-based assessments and guide learners in building digital portfolios that represent their unique potential to the world
- Cultivate their own entrepreneurial skills in using public and private resources to develop customized learning pathways for all students
- Re-envision their own roles by exploring new ways of blending digital learning tools with other services and resources to leverage their professional strengths and passions in working directly or indirectly with learners
- Establish professional peer communities to develop their knowledge about deepening and accelerating student learning and closing achievement gaps
- Use digital portfolios to manage and represent their own continuous learning.
The Atlas of Emerging Jobs presents these as possible future challenges for the profesison:
- Designing academic pathways
- Leading students along academic pathways
- Development of online courses
- Development and support of educational online platforms
- Project management
- Development of game-based practical tools and methods
- Holding game and educational activities
- Designing virtual worlds for education
- Development of cross-professional skills (teamwork, systems thinking, lean production, etc .)
- Development of cognitive abilities (memory, reading speed, concentration, etc .)
- Teaching productive states of consciousness
- Development of educational and re-training programmes for adults
The Atlas also provides a description of the following professional roles:
- Educational Online Platform Coordinator
- Startup Mentor
- Game Master
- Project Training Organizer
- Mind Fitness Coach
- Educational Pathway Designer
- Game Educator
- Designer of Consciousness Training Tools
Exploring the Future Education Workforce: New Roles for an Expanding Learning Ecosystem explores seven possible educator roles. A job description and recruiting announcement for each role is provided in the document. Boldface has been added to have the role title stand out.
- The “Learning Pathway Designer” works with students, parents and mentors to set goals, track progress and pacing and provide models of possible activity sequences aligned with student competencies;
- “Competency Trackers” would tag and map community-based learning opportunities for competencies addressed;
- “Pop-up Reality Producers” would “with educators, subject matter experts, story developers and game designers to produce pervasive learning extravaganzas that engage learners in flow states and help them develop relevant skills, academic competencies and knowhow”;
- “Social Innovation Portfolio Directors” would build networks to support service-based learning opportunities;
- A “Learning Naturalist” designs assessments to “capture evidence of learning in students’ diverse learning environments and contexts”;
- “Micro-Credentialing Analysts” would provide research-based comparative quality assurance metrics; and
- The “Data Steward” would act “as a third-party information trustee to ensure responsible and ethical use of personal data and to maintain broader education data system integrity and effective application through purposeful analytics.”
Forecasting the Future of K-12 Teaching: Four Scenarios for a Decade of Disruption explores the following four “plausible futures:”
- A baseline future, “A Plastic Profession,” that extrapolates from today’s dominant reality to project what teaching is likely to look like in ten years if we do not alleviate current stressors on the profession and do not make significant changes to the structure of today’s public education system.
- An alternative future, “Take Back the Classroom,” that explores what teaching might look like if public educators reclaim the learning agenda by helping to shape the regulatory climate to support their visions for teaching and learning.
- A second alternative future, “A Supplemental Profession,” which examines what teaching might look like if today’s public education system does not change significantly but professionals from other organizational contexts become increasingly involved in supporting young people in engaging in authentic and relevant learning opportunities outside of school.
- An ideal future, “Diverse Learning Agent Roles,” that explores how a diverse set of learning agent roles and activities might support rich, relevant, and authentic learning in an expanded and highly personalized learning ecosystem that is vibrant for all learners.
Do our colleges and universities provide training and education to prepare individuals for these various plausible learning agent roles? Maybe not directly. Other sources of training and education may emerge. Consider the role of a Registered Behavior Technician.
iNACOL Blended Learning Teacher Competency Framework provides just what the title say, a teacher competency framework for Blended Learning. Do you see how this fits with the information provided in the web page titled Teaching Profession Future?
The Framework has four domains, each with specific competencies. The report presents standards for each competency. Here are the domains with their competencies.
- New vision for teaching and learning
- Orientation toward change and improvement
- Continuous improvement and innovation
- Data Practices
- Instructional Strategies
- Management of Blended Learning Experience
- Instructional Tools
What is Blended Learning? presents some key areas for facilitators to focus on. Make note of the shift from teacher to facilitator.
Key Areas for Facilitators to Focus on for Blended Learning
- Development of online and offline course content.
- Facilitation of communication with and among students, including the pedagogy of communicating content online without the contextual clues students would get in person.
- Guiding the learning experience of individual students, and customizing material wherever possible to strengthen the learning experience.
- Assessment and grading, not unlike the expectations for teachers within the traditional framework.
Registered Behavior Technician (RBT)
The Behavior Analyst Certification Board provides a task list for the RBT position. To be eligible to become an RBT, an individual needs to be at least 18 years old, completed high school, and complete a 40 hour training program. One announcement indicates the training is free, self-directed and online. The announcement also provides this additional information:
An RBT is a paraprofessional, teacher or practitioner who practices under the close, ongoing supervision of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) or Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA). The RBT is primarily responsible for the direct implementation of behavior-analytic services, but does not design intervention or assessment plans.