According to Alvin Toffler, “the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”
This includes primary and secondary school teachers tasked with the great responsibility of educating our future leaders and workers.
It is undeniable that teachers have been overburdened with being “a live streamer in the morning and tech support in the evening” as they worked tirelessly to create classroom management and instructional design that best fit their students for both online and face-to-face learning sessions.
In learning to embrace the hybrid nature of the school timetables, it became clear that many teachers needed reskilling and upskilling in digital literacy.
On-the-job training for teachers
In fact, the Philippines’ Department of Education made it a requirement for their public school teachers to attend a three-day webinar by the Globe’s Global Filipino Teachers (GFT) and the Habi Education Labs.
“We want to create new learning opportunities from the crisis and help our teachers see themselves as agents of change as they transition into remote and blended learning modalities,” said Yoly Crisanto, Globe Chief Sustainability Officer and SVP for Corporate Communications.
As schools in the Philippines continue with remote learning, “we hope to equip and empower [teachers] with the knowledge they need to become more effective in their role as educators,” added Crisanto.
Similarly, as online learning remains the default teaching style in Malaysia, PwC Malaysia recognized the need to “help teachers adapt their lesson plans to be delivered through digital platforms,” wrote Nurul A’in Abdul Latif, a market leader at PwC Malaysia.
“To equip students for the new world, we knew we had to first reach those with the ability to make a direct impact on them: teachers,” wrote PwC Malaysia. Their Komuniti Guru Digital Learning+ (upskilling teachers) program is meant to “empower teachers in delivering effective lessons remotely through the strategic use of various digital platforms.”
Cambodia-based Velocity Arcademy has gone a step further and introduced “mobile learning and gamification to turn a rigid environment such as professional development of teachers to be more agile and liberal,” said the Arcademy’s co-founder Pichpisey Sovann.
A teacher’s willingness
Throughout the 2020-2021 academic year, we witnessed teachers adapting their teaching and learning strategies to the new world of remote and hybrid learning.
A teacher in rural Thailand, Vanida Sayawong creatively engaged with her fifth-grade students by donning her mother’s old lakorn chatri Thai classical dance costumes. “Thai literature may be a subject that you students may think is boring. But is this boring?” Vanida asked her students, referring to her costume.
Recognizing that “we need to educate teenagers in the way they prefer,” Norlida Muhd Pisol, a teacher in Perlis, Malaysia, bought devices and equipment worth MYR 2,000 to decorate her house so that her students would not get bored while watching her history lessons on TikTok.
Although it has been very time-consuming, these teachers’ willingness to embrace new pedagogical tools demonstrates their heartfelt desire for educational continuity.
A digitally competent generation of teachers
It is not enough that initiatives are conducted to reskill and upskill the existing pool of teachers.
As some countries address their shortage of teachers problem while others develop new evaluation processes for new teachers, priority must be given to hiring digitally literate teachers. After all, digital competencies are a ‘must-have’ and no longer a “nice-to-have” knowledge and skill.
Hence, teacher training institutions must prioritize digital equity. By cultivating a culture of digital equity in these institutions, these future teachers are more likely to foster digital equity in their own classrooms. Besides that, future teachers must also have the necessary traits that will allow them to comfortably embrace the ambiguity of future classrooms.