Educator Roles Must Adapt to Support Personalized Learning Environments

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KnowledgeWorks releases new paper encouraging national conversation to rethink future educator roles

KnowledgeWorks' new paper explores seven possible roles for educators in the future.

We need to have bigger conversations about the future of teaching.

There’s no question that education is changing.

Students have increased opportunity to learn any time, in the school, throughout the community and on the web; there is growing interest in learning through virtual realities, digital games and social media platforms; educators and stakeholders are placing more importance on immediate student-level data to help adjust learning more quickly; students are able to earn credit by volunteering throughout the community; and competency-based and project-based learning is on the rise throughout more and more classrooms.

But as education continues to change, educator roles will need to adapt to expanded learning environments in which students learn in new ways. The sector will need to create and fill jobs that focus on tracking competencies and verifying credentials to ensure students are succeeding in rigorous learning environments. More jobs will need to focus on data privacy and analysis. Other roles will need to help students and parents develop learning goals while navigating educational experiences in and out of the school building.

Today, KnowledgeWorks released a paper, “Exploring the Future Education Workforce: New Roles for an Expanding Learning Ecosystem,” which forecasts what kinds of educator roles might contribute to more flexible and rigorous learning environments in 10 years’ time.

“We need to have bigger conversations about the future of teaching,” said Katherine Prince, KnowledgeWorks Senior Director of Strategic Foresight and co-author of the paper. “We need to broaden the conversation beyond teaching to consider what kinds of educator roles we need and want for the future. Having more kinds of roles throughout the learning ecosystem will expand possibilities for delivering niche offerings to individual learners based on need.”

Prince and co-authors Jason Swanson and Andrea Saveri explore seven possible educator roles that would help support students in more personalized learning environments. These newly imagined roles would allow for greater specialization throughout the education sector and would attract diverse talent, while ensuring rigor and quality throughout instruction. They would also have significant implications for educator preparation and career pathways.

With growing interest in personalized learning and competency-based education– an educational model that removes time constraints and allows students learn at their own pace – students will need adults to support them through roles beyond that of a traditional teacher.

“In personalized learning environment, students need more support to succeed. Naturally, the roles of educators will begin to shift,” KnowledgeWorks President and CEO Judy Peppler said. “This paper pushes us out of the traditional educator boxes and encourages us to think more deeply about how we can best support students and help them succeed throughout their educational careers.”

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