One prime example is Kathy Cassidy (no relation to the author), a teacher who invites the world into her classroom through a blog. Creating experiences like these should be one of the major goals with the next evolution of eLearning. And these are the kinds of experiences I hope my own kids have during the course of their schooling.
I’ve been teaching online in one form or another since about 1999, and have seen a significant evolution and some significant revolutions occur over that span. One thing that hasn’t changed in that time is the critical role that teachers play in a successful eLearning experience. Leading students through the joys and perils of virtual learning environments takes a crafty, thoughtful, and agile type of individual (or set of individuals, depending on development versus teaching). In the world of online learning, the “Guide by the Side, not the Sage on the Stage” term has been used and overused since the inception and introduction of computers to the classroom. This concept, however, is really about good teaching that leverages technology, rather than technology forcing a teacher to the sidelines.
I don’t think that computers will ever completely eliminate the need for traditional classroom teachers. Instead, technology should motivate instructors to step up and innovate the ways in which they present subject matter–inspiring students and driving their success like never before.
Pete Cassidy is the Director of Online Programs for Champions, where he oversees all digital components of Champions’ academic offerings for students in grades K-8. Cassidy has taught online learning courses for various universities and institutions since 1999. Follow Cassidy’s blog at http://www.discoverchampions.com/blog.