Top Educators See Teachers as Mentors in 21st Century Education

The editors of T.H.E. Journal spoke with leading U.S. educators about how computers and other electronic media are changing education. Here are a few predictions:

• Roger C. Schank, The Institute for the Learning Sciences, Northwestern University. He predicts that school libraries will be the repository for hundreds of specific courses that students can take online. This will shift teachers’ role from being subject-instructors to coaches and mentors. Teachers will tutor and guide students, and they will lead small discussion groups that will help socialize students who are otherwise working independently. Schank also suggests that activities often thought of as peripheral to the academic experience—such as the school newspaper—should in this model be integrated into the curriculum because of the types of learning experiences they provide.

• Dr. Lawrence T. Frase, Executive Director, Research Division of Cognitive and Instructional Science, Educational Testing Service. Change is occurring so rapidly and on so many fronts that adaptation to change must be educators’ guiding force, says Frase. Without adaptation, conflict will inevitably arise and fester in the academic world and elsewhere. Technology can support education, but the digital divide threatens to leave many people behind, he fears.

• Dr. Frank B. Withrow, Director of Development, Able Company. If technology fulfills its promise of improving prosthetic devices, then people with difficulty hearing, seeing, or moving muscles will have unprecedented educational opportunities.

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