New Insights: Roles of the Instructor in Higher Education

The biggest impression I was left with after researching trends in higher education and the role of the instructor, is how the impact of technology is challenging traditional teaching models and shifting the role of the instructor. For example, the recent introduction of MOOCs has been said to be an experiment challenging the traditional lecture model. Technology makes it possible to provide content in the form of video-lectures online to learners, and minimizes the role of the instructor as content provider and lecturer in the classroom. Class time then can be spent on collaborative projects where the instructor’s role is to be a support and resource. The vast amount of information and tools that learners have available to them through the Internet is shifting the role of instructor from “content provider” to “content guide,” teaching learners how to determine valid resources, and connecting them with the most effective tools and forums for their area of study. Traditional higher education models are changing to include hybrid, online, and collaborative learning models which are nudging instructors into the role of virtual teacher, providing courseware, instruction, and feedback through electronic means.  In a MOOC environment, the instructor’s role is one of curator and creator – creating a learning environment that encourages learners to contribute and share, as well as teaching students how to be self-directed and successful in this new learning environment. Ultimately the role of the instructor has not changed, whether in the classroom or online. The introduction of technology into education though, has changed the way in which instructors execute these roles.

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