Sunday, June 10, 2012

Module 1: The Role of Teachers

The Changing Role of Teaching: Four Metaphors 

As technology continues to develop and evolve, it is crucial that our teaching styles and the roles we play need to develop and evolve.  In the article, Learning and Knowing in Networks: Changing roles for Educators and Designers, Siemens talks about four metaphors of teaching: educator as a master artist, educator as a network administrator, educator as a concierge, and educator as a curator (Siemens, 2008).
Using the metaphor of the educator as a master artist, than the classroom would be an art studio.  Students would be creating and working on their own pieces of art, as the educator is an observer who draws attention to innovative techniques.  The students learn from the educator's expertise as well as from their peers (Siemens, 2008).  In this metaphor, it seems to me that the students are given a lot of freedom to explore and utilize the resources available to them. I wonder about the amount of guidance the students would receive.  Would it be more limited in this metaphor in an effort to let the students explore?  I see this metaphor being more effective at the high school or college level.
With the metaphor of the educator as a network administrator, the role of the educator becomes one where the educator guides and aids students as they make connections and form learning networks.  Students spend time reflecting in where gaps in their learning networks may be and addressing them. The educator provides guidance through evaluating the quality of the learning networks (Siemens, 2008).  This metaphor of an educator is one that has a lot of value today in a world of social networking with Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Students need to learn the value of networking and that it is more than just seeing what your friends are up to and how many "likes" you can get on a status update.
Traditionally a concierge assists people by providing information and help to people. They have a lot of knowledge about a vast number of topics.  In education, the educator as a concierge, would play a similar role providing students with information and showing them things that they may not discover on their own.  In the classroom this style may include traditional lectures along with time for independent exploration (Siemens, 2008).  This concept appeals to me a lot because it incorporates aspects of teaching that I accustomed to (lecture-style) and other aspects that I value (student exploration).  When done right, I can see this being highly effective.
The metaphor that appeals to me the best, however, is the educator as a curator.  One of the main reasons being that the curator is considered an expert learner and I am one that loves to continually learn.  According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a curator is one who has the care and superintendence of something.  Siemens talks about how the educator would play dual roles in order to balance "the freedom of individual learners with the thoughtful interpretation of the subject being explored" (pg. 17).  The educator would create a learning environment where students were free to explore, create, and express their ideas, but would also receive the guidance and support needed (Siemens, 2008).  In the digital world that we are in today, educators need to be expert learners who are thirsty for new knowledge that they can share with their students.  Educators need to be flexible in the roles that they play with their students.  There are times when students need direct instruction and there are other times when students need to have the freedom to explore on their own.  If more students were given freedom in the classroom, we would be amazed with what they are able to do and create. I have a student who I found out has his own YouTube Channel where he posts videos that he makes.  He has created two different TV shows each containing several episodes.  All of this he does in his free time at home with the help of his sister who records him.  I learned for the first time this past year how to create video and use YouTube.  Students know more than we think and given the right freedom and parameters, can amaze us with what they are able to do.  High levels of learning can occur with the educator playing the role of a curator.



  1. Great Post. I definitely agree with the statements that you made and the inclusion of the videos was excellent. I agree that teacher plays the role as the facilitator. The students should be able to lead the classroom activities, and the teacher should facilitate and monitor students as they are working. The metaphor of the network administrator is also interesting. Students indeed need to know the importance of networking beyond just talking to each other. Great Points in your post.

  2. I really enjoyed reading your post. We have very similar beliefs when it comes to Siemens’s four roles of a teacher. With the innovations that are continuing to evolve Siemens’s four roles of a teacher need to be implemented into teaching practices so that students and teachers can be successful when it comes to the new technology classroom. You gave some great examples in your post that painted a clear picture of what your classroom would like in regards to implementing technology.

  3. I appreciate your recap of Siemen's educator roles. I've always thought of the teacher as coach. you train the students as best you can, but when the game is on, you have to stand on the sidelins and let them do their thing. On further reflection, I like the role of the network administrator. If learning comes from a connection of various nodes, then the teacher might serve as a network administrator that helps direct them to nodes that are appropriate for learning, and perhaps away from those who aren't.