What Does a Future Ready Professor Look Like?
While the “future ready” movement has largely focused on the needs of primary and secondary schools, there are many steps that a professor can take in order to become future ready. Given that one of the key goals of the future ready movement is to ensure that students are ready for success in college and in the workplace, it may be fair to say that future ready professors have a key role to play in preparing students by being future ready themselves.
One key aspect of the future ready movement is its emphasis on personalized learning. While traditionally professors have not engaged in much of an effort to personalize learning, edtech tools make it possible—even for the largest of classes—and the realities of education in the twenty-first century make it necessary.
Thoughtful professors can leverage edtech tools in order to meet the unique learning needs of each individual student. For example, they can conduct a formative assessment in order to determine if students lack any essential knowledge and skills. Then, they can provide individualized instructional materials that will help students overcome any deficits. This will allow instruction to be successful for students, despite any gaps in their preparation.
Class assignments can also be tailored to each individual student: professors might consider using a version of the HyperDocs that have become popular in secondary schools in order to create a more personalized learning environment. They can also record their lectures so that students can review them—more than once, if need be—in order to learn at their own pace.
Further, professors can use blended learning in order to improve instruction. Blended learning is not a “high tech” approach to instruction but rather a “right tech” approach. It means that professors select the best instructional method for the situation—which might be a digital tool, but might be a discussion group, writing assignment, or physical laboratory experience. It is easy to fall prey to the sizzle and excitement of new edtech tools, but the wise educator recognizes that not everything that glitters is gold.
Rather, he or she knows that some traditional learning approaches are a better fit than the latest app, depending on the objective of the experience. By adopting a blended learning approach, an instructor can select the optimal balance of learning activities. This variety will also maximize student engagement, and the research suggests that learning through a variety of modalities is usually most effective.