As if teaching wasn’t hard enough, along came COVID-19. And with it came distanced learning, new digital platforms and noisy Zoom classrooms. Teachers suddenly had to navigate a whole new virtual landscape on the fly, inspiring the future generation in different ways.
To keep up with the rapidly changing times, educators need to not simply ‘adjust’ to the new normal, but feel as comfortable and confident in this tech world as their digital-native students. Students may feel at home in this brave new world, but they still need teachers to help guide them through it.
Adaptive learning – adapting to change
With the sudden, unexpected arrival of a new teaching environment, teachers have turned into students. Good teachers are always learning, but COVID-19 has made the learning curve even steeper.
But with crisis comes opportunity, so educators have been able to rethink approaches to teaching. They’re preparing students for a new world and integrating technology into the classroom more than ever, which together are some the biggest challenges for teachers today.
The need to change and the rise of new technologies overlap in adaptive learning, giving students a personalised learning experience rather than a one-size-fits-all-approach. Advancements in technology give students flexibility in place of old-fashioned processes of rigidity and orthodoxy. So that means adaptive learning is natural for this digital climate.
With students not always sharing the same physical space, let alone the same learning behaviours, tailoring approaches for each student makes sense. By using algorithms, educators can shape content to fit the specific needs of students, just as they would through one-on-one conversations. So now students can get tailored support, just like they would in the classroom, online.
We know that being a teacher can be challenging. And to some, embracing technology to tailor their teaching style makes it seem even more challenging. But there are a range of opportunities that come with the move to digital for both teachers and students.
Technology as opportunity
‘There is an increasing requirement for teachers to be experts in evidence-based practice, data, well-being, leadership and management – in and outside the classroom,’ says La Trobe Professor Bernadette Walker-Gibbs.
As the Associate Head of Learning and Teaching, Professor Walker-Gibbs has seen the teaching profession go through enormous change. She’s also been helping her students lead innovative ways to teach in digital classrooms while keeping a close focus on key areas like; how humans learn, cognitive sciences, social justice, 21st-century innovative learning and pedagogy, as well as leadership and management.
It’s important for graduate teachers to understand the nuances of these emerging areas so they can, in turn, help students prepare for the future job market where most sectors are transforming and moving towards digital processes.
The new world requires us to harness human potential and work alongside machines for productivity, creativity and innovation. Most sectors are planned to be influenced by technology by 2030, so the leap towards digital classrooms is a positive for both teachers and students – they can get a grasp on how technology can best serve them, starting now.
Whether current school-age students imagine their future career in the healthcare system, international business, agriculture or anything in-between, careers of the future will look different. So while we may not know exactly what the job market they’ll be entering will look like, teachers can prepare their students for jobs of the future by using technology in every day teaching. Embracing an environment of integrated technology and learning to adapt to change gets students ready to be agile and prepared for the unexpected.
Even pre-COVID, teachers already had a big job. And yes, their toolbox now needs additional tools. But the addition of new ways of teaching are set to build teachers’ employability and broaden the skillset of their students.
Embrace the day
Learning to teach in the COVID landscape doesn’t have to be a burden. It’s an opportunity to bring forward the potential to map new pathways. And if you want to be part of a sector that’s reshaping for the better, teaching is a great way to get involved.
We know teaching can be tough, even without the added restrictions and requirements of the new normal. Home schooling has brought so many new challenges, but also highlighted the incredible job teachers do – 91 per cent of parents said they’ve had a greater level of respect for teachers during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
As the future changes, education will continue to transform, so it’s expected that teachers will too. That’s why there’s nobody better than modern educators to lead these important changes towards digital learning and empower their students along the way. Plus, employers are now regarding IT proficiency as an integral requirement for modern educators.
La Trobe’s Master of Education is designed to support you to continue growing in your education career. We’re here to help you acquire new skills and new abilities. While being faced with a changing paradigm, we’re here to help educators not just survive, but thrive.
Ready to make a difference in education? Learn more about postgraduate study in teaching and learning at La Trobe. Book a one-on-one consultation.
 Grad Australia, Five industry challenges facing new grads entering the education sector, 2021
 Dell, The next era of human-machine partnership, 2017