Considering the emerging hybrid pedagogies, open education, and massive open online courses there is no question that relationships between teachers, students and the technologies they share are changing. On the most simplistic level, they are truly forcing a re-conception of the contemporary teacher. I am not necessarily convinced that it is necessarily a new one, but there is a definite re-envisioning happening. In a world that offers such abundance of content, teachers are no longer the purveyors of specialized knowledge. Of course they can remain that in some circumstances, but that role is no longer a given.
Generally, I believe teachers still know more than students, especially at the K-12 level, but that knowledge is no longer enough. Teachers must possess other intangible qualities to operate effectively in a world where knowledge is no longer the coin of the realm, if it ever really was.
Teachers now must be able to deliver more wisdom than content. Stephen Downes shared a rather daunting list of roles teachers play in his “The Role of the Educator” Huffington Post piece, where he shared no less than twenty-three roles (Learner, Collector, Curator, Alchemist, Programmer, Salesperson, Convener, Coordinator, Designer, Coach, Agitator, Facilitator, Tech Support, Moderator, Critic, Lecturer, Demonstrator, Mentor, Connector, Theorizer, Sharer, Evaluator, and Bureaucrat). That is quite an impressive list and one I consider often.
One step further and Alec Couros’s Networked Teacher diagram and concept highlight an array of capacities in just one of those previously mentioned roles. Certinly there is some overlap, but the diagram is a granular look at the role of Connector, to be sure.
I think it is safe to say that the expectation is that teachers should provide what is needed. Consequently, teachers must be more things to more people than maybe ever before. The complexity of the job has multiplied.
As result, the relationships between teachers, students, and technologies they share have grown more complex. The roles that were believed to be settled are all again subject to interrogation.
For me, an educator or teacher must be a master student or learner. One who walks the walk, always learning, always curious, always chasing mastery, and leads by example. Truth be told, that is the only way I know, at the moment, how to maintain any kind of anchor in these evolving relationships.