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Teacher Transition: Instructor to Facilitator

There’s a transition underway in how students learn, and consequently in how teachers should conduct their classrooms. Gone are the days in which a teacher should “instruct” the class, lecturing from the front of the classroom and furiously scribbling on a blackboard. Today’s teacher should serve as a facilitator of the learning process. With the ease of access to information via books and the web, students no longer need to sit at the instructor’s feet as she shares her wisdom. Rather, the instructor should create an environment, both physical and experiential, so that students are capable of transforming raw data and information into knowledge and wisdom.

If you recall, the underlying topic of my PhD application to Northwestern’s Learning Science program was designing learning environments. This general idea was recently supported in researching intelligent tutors for my class on cognitive modeling. Without going into much detail, the dominant cognitive theory (ACT-R) states that learning occurs through the interpretive use of declarative knowledge and results in procedural knowledge, or “production rules.” Tutoring, or teaching, then should aim to create experiences to acquire the production rules of a competent problem-solver. (More detail in my slides.)

To top it off, I just stumbled on to an interaction designer at the School of Visual Arts in NYC who is coming to the same conclusion in her thesis, describing a teacher as an experience designer.

Do you know of other research, pedagogy, etc. that supports (or contradicts) this idea of transition? How might we as students, educators, or citizens make room for such a positive transition to occur?

Posted in Education.

3 Responses

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  1. Melissa Carson says

    I am currently coordinating a pilot project in a school in Sydney Australia where we are trying to facilitate the instructor to facilitator model. If you are interested in our experience we would love to here from you in regards to support you may be able to offer.

    • codyaray says

      Hi Melissa — Although I’m not working in education/academia now, I’d love to hear more about your plans (both the practical and any driving research/cognitive theories) since its still near and dear to my heart. :) Good luck with your pilot!

Continuing the Discussion

  1. Greenfoot: Teaching Java to 5th Graders – Cody A. Ray linked to this post on June 18, 2013

    […] style of education to which teachers are accustomed. Although I’ve written about teachers transitioning from lecturers to facilitators before, I don’t really know the best way to implement it. But I know that its not telling the […]

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