Teacher Roles in each OES area


1. Educative Experiences

2. Face-to-face Campus

3. Achievement Testing

4. Competency Certification

5. Certification Standards

6. Parent & Student Counseling

7. District Databases/Academic Records/Learner Portfolios

8. Social Care Centers

9. Open-Portal System

10. System Expansion/Management

Comment by Liza Loop (11/25/2012):
As I look at the original puzzle graphic to try to describe how "teachers" might function in each area I see several opportunities to improve the picture. For starters, item 1, Educative Experiences is really an overview category that includes 2 (Face-to-face campus and classrooms), 9 (the Open-Portal, Distance Education or E-Learning offerings) as well as 6 (Counseling), 3 (Achievement Testing) and 4 (Competency Certification). Each of these are experiences designed to help the learner acquire further information, skill or knowledge. Somewhere embedded in the activity will be a "teacher". For example, the design team of an E-course is engaged in teaching even though all members may be long gone by the time the learner comes in contact with the course content. The content expert assembles a collection of related materials that will (it is hoped) guide the learner through a body of knowledge. The course designer tries to arrange that material in a format that will encourage the learner to engage with the material and internalize much of it.

The classroom teacher's role is similar although he or she may be the only member of the team. Also, in an OES, only a small fraction of learners will use class-room settings to study subjects that are primarily informational. Books and digital media are a far less expensive way to deliver information to large numbers of learners world-wide. The majority of F2F teachers are likely to be sports coaches, music instructors, laboratory technicians, master gardeners -- people whose teaching styles, even today, involve more hands-on interaction with learners than the traditional classroom teacher. For those learners who thrive in the classroom environment with the teacher at the white board, that option should be available. But it will no longer be the dominant mode of instruction. With most learners constructing their educative experience out of a patchwork of options in terms of course content and teaching styles, teachers ('learner contact workers') will exercise much greater choice in terms of teaching style but have a much narrower focus of responsibility. We will no longer ask each teacher to be all things to all learners. Rather they will concentrate in the subject areas and populations of learners with whom they excel.

Although we often don't think of testing (items 3 and 4) as teaching, a well-designed test can be a significant learning experience. For one thing, test taking is a skill as any SAT coach will tell us. For another, we could make taking a test much more interesting and valuable to the learner if we supplied the questions that go with all the 'wrong' answers (Jeopardy style) along with the 'right' answers. And feedback on free-form written tests, performances and portfolios has always been used as a teaching tool.

The staff who handle items 6 (Counseling) and 8 (Social Care) can also be seen as teachers although they may not deal directly with academic, vocational or recreational content. Counselors 'teach' parents, children and adult learners how to negotiate the OES. Because the age-graded, factory worker structure of an old fashioned school has disappeared from the OES the process of choosing beneficial educative experiences for oneself or one's child is more complicated than it used to be. The Counselor serves as a human link between the learner, his or her portfolio of experience and the plethora of possible courses (both f2f and online), seminars, workshops, field trips and interest groups on offer. The Counselor focuses on helping the learner to set goals for educational achievements and to find paths to competency certifications. This will involve suggesting when the learner might benefit from exploring new areas to expand interests and when concentration in a specific area is likely to accomplish a previously set goal.

Workers in Social Care Centers (item 8) may not have responsibility for specific academic content but learning how to get along in a group, to settle disputes peaceably, to pick up one's toys or manage one's time are certainly functions we ask of teachers in schools today. In many senses these care givers are surrogate parents who even take on the role of station-wagon-mom when their charges need to get to a face-to-face campus for a swimming lesson, doctor's appointment or a play rehearsal. By concentrating on care and socialization they can insure that both children and dependent adults are safe and secure whenever the learner can not be left to his or her own custody.

Standards, databases and management/administration (items 5, 7 and 10) are just as important to the smooth functioning of an educative system as 'teaching' even though they do not require direct learner contact. Let's discuss these roles in another article.