The Flunking Role: From Instructor to Curator

May 7, 2022

The unanticipated arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent closure of institutions has led the way for various reforms and unprecedented disruptions in the educational sector. For many institutions the pandemic gave an extra push to adapt and innovate their educational infrastructure and pedagogies. According to a UNESCO report from September 2021, almost 1.5 billion students in 165 countries have had their education interrupted due to university and school closures caused by the pandemic. India is also the second country after Uganda where offline schools were shut for the longest period of time. However, not all of the mandated adjustments have been beneficial. The results of the shift were also varied in schools and universities, in part because the advantages of the digital ecosystem may differ depending on the age.

Many academics feel that when students and teachers share a physical environment, there is an additional benefit to learning. Educational researchers; Yong Zhao and Jim Watterston said “For humans to thrive in the age of smart machines, it is essential that they do not compete with machines. Instead, they need to be more human.” Their recent study identified that the role of education in the virtual sphere is often delimited to collecting and storing information which opposes the exclusivity it is supposed to provide, in nurturing creativity and critical thinking. The attempt to recreate the traditional teaching-learning experience through pre-existing timetables, and temporal rigidity not only failed but also created discomfort and tensions among students and teachers alike during the initial phase of the pandemic.

With digital learning, it is no longer required for students to learn concurrently. Meaningful two-way interaction between students and their teachers by leveraging the right and local technology can pave the way for online learning to be more productive. Diana Laurillard from the UCL Institute of Education argues that the “decoupling of learning time and school time” is crucial for the learners to recover from the impact of the pandemic.

Regardless of the learning modality or overlapping technology, teachers play a crucial role in the experience of teaching and learning. Regular and effective professional development and support for the development of adequate pedagogical tools for both online and face-to-face situations for teachers is critical. Professor Manu Kapur of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology suggests that students learn more effectively from the experiences of failures to solve a problem as encountered by themselves or others, as opposed to being told how to solve it.

Based on the COVID-19 experiences, the best model of student organization may be a blend of online and face-to-face learning possibilities. A study by JL Bishop and Verleger Matthew gives evidence to the argument that students tend to prefer in-person lectures to video lectures, but prefer interactive classroom activities over lectures. However, online learning ecosystems are leaning towards creating competency-based education which places importance on the development of specialized skills and abilities. Learning will become more individualized and centered on students' abilities and passions. Educators will be required to transform their pedagogies keeping in mind the diverse learner requirements and autonomy.

Education may and should undergo fundamental transformations, from curriculum to pedagogy, teacher to learner and evaluation. The teacher's role is also transmuted from an instructor to a curator of resources and to a motivator. It is critical that we reimagine education through technology and devise novel approaches to make education more inclusive, by erasing the digital divide.




By Neerej Dev
Neerej Dev is an assistant professor in the department of Media Studies at Kristu Jayanti College, Bengaluru.
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Comment on this article


    Sun, May 08 2022

    Excellent observations. Worth reading.

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