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The New Role of Teachers in The Information Age

Author: Ekaterina Kostioukhina

I am Dr. Ekaterina Kostioukhina, and I teach Space Medicine! Every time I design a lecture, I ask myself these questions:

How can I make a one-hour lecture more meaningful for these students who are the future of our next generations? I know I can teach them a lot of information, science, and hard-core facts for memorization. There is so much to learn! However, in the Digital Era and the Information Age, knowledge has shifted from being monopolized by institutions to being freely available to those motivated to learn. All it takes is access to the internet, time, and motivation. There are plenty of excellent lectures on YouTube and other open platforms about anything a person might want to learn. Lectures with animations, lectures from famous people, and lectures for all kinds of learning styles that the students can browse at their convenience and any time. What should I focus on in this one hour of being given the opportunity to make a memorable impact in their education?

After introspection, careful review of my own personal academic journey, and by asking many great mentors, I decided that the new role of a teacher is to teach how to learn, inspire, and motivate. So, every time I open a new PowerPoint to design a lecture, I remember that goal and guide my topics and materials to deliver one hour of wisdom.

My tools:

  • Ask students in the first class their strengths, their goals, what calls their attention as a career, or why they registered for your class. You will be surprised by the diversity of talents and will be able to guide the topics toward what is really relevant to your particular group of students.
  • Start with a problem and ask the students to brainstorm solutions and identify learning topics they need to look up as information tools. Long gone are the days of separating sciences into their individual categories. A multidisciplinary approach works best to understand and solve real problems in the natural world.
  • Include inspirational stories of people in the field who overcame great obstacles and showed resiliency. Provide an optional reading list of the biographies of these inspiring heroes that the students can decide to read on their own.
  • Ask questions to activate participation and a change in rhythm from a monologue to a conversation.
  • Use multimedia variety—pictures, videos, cyberspace—to explore good information resources. Besides keeping it interesting, it is an opportunity to talk about reliable sources of information in the jungle of disinformation that afflicts our modern society.
  • Remember that younger ages don’t have a well-developed neurocognitive machinery for planning for the future. Even thinking about long-term goals is something challenging for young students. Provide examples of action items that they can do today and in the very near future to get closer to their goals. Success is a habit and guiding the practice of behaviors to lead to success is a priceless gift for the new generations.
  • Remember what you were like when you were in their shoes and their age. Bring the gift of discovery, learning, and the wonders of the real world that can be explored through science and education.

But most importantly, remember this one thing:

This one hour of shared time with the next generations is your opportunity to make the world a better place and contribute to their lives through education.


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