Goulburn Post

How has technology changed the role of the teacher?

How has technology changed the role of the teacher?
How has technology changed the role of the teacher?

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Despite teaching being one of the oldest professions in human history, the role of the teacher has undergone some monolithic transformations over the past few decades, with the unique teaching challenges raised by the COVID-19 pandemic being just the tip of the iceberg.

In the present day, Australian teachers are expected to fill many roles. They both engage with their students over multiple digital platforms as well as communicate how best to navigate those platforms, especially in primary and secondary school environments where students are being introduced to the construct of institutional learning and independent study alongside all the other potentially overwhelming aspects of school.

So how can modern teachers prepare for the rapid technological evolution of this timeless profession? And how do modern master of education courses and other tertiary education courses prepare Australia's next generation of teachers to perform at their best in their evolving industry?

We'll be exploring the answers to these questions.

Engaging with technologies during tertiary coursework

Emerging classroom and digital learning technologies are set to continue playing an integral role in the global education landscape for the foreseeable future, so modern teachers are being prompted to utilise these technologies earlier in their careers.

This is why many tertiary courses for aspiring educators include engaging with technologies as part of their core course materials in 2022 and beyond.

Digital literacy and technological skill sets are becoming increasingly essential attributes for all modern educators working in traditional classroom settings as well as in virtual or online learning environments.

Teachers who have a solid understanding of digital document editing, remote collaboration and communications, and even multimedia content production, are more likely to be more effective educational facilitators both in and out of the classroom than teachers who aren't tech-savvy.

For this reason, a growing majority of tertiary education courses are incorporating technological literacy and teaching with technologies into their foundational course materials, just to ensure that all aspiring educators recognise the value of digital learning tools and have utilised these tools in academic settings prior to entering the workforce.

Dismantling the concept of traditional teacher faculties

Foundational occupational knowledge is paramount for all emerging teachers, but it generally isn't all that a master of education can provide.

Secondary level and tertiary level educators must still receive training to teach specialist disciplines or pathways, these being subjects that they possess a strong background in (i.e. the major of your undergraduate degree or other professional experiences).

In the past, secondary level teachers were asked to select one to two specialist disciplines, with these usually belonging to the same faculty. English and humanities teachers tend to share a faculty building, and maths and science teachers tend to share another.

Subjects like LOTE, Phys. Ed., and musical education generally have their own faculties, which you may remember from your own time at school.

The main differentiation between how teachers find their specialist disciplines now versus in the past is simply that in the present day, teachers no longer need to select disciplines that are confined to the same faculty.

This essentially means that teachers can specialise in a combination of English and physical education, or even humanities and mathematics. In fact, modern schools prefer their secondary level teachers to have many interests, as passionate inquisitive teachers are likely to be more effective and engaging learning facilitators.

Doing away with strictly defined teacher faculties also allows teachers to remove ideas surrounding 'left brain' and 'right brain' thinking that students are often quick to adopt within themselves.

In removing these invisible barriers, taking advantage of developing high impact teaching strategies, and taking a multidisciplinary approach to teaching, modern teachers can demonstrate links between areas of study, effectively encouraging students to gauge for themselves where their interests can intersect, and what professional pathways can be found at these intersections!

Greater focus on professional learning

As is the case with any profession, your personal development as a teacher continues on long after graduation. The ever-evolving nature of learning technologies effectively requires teachers to value their own personal and professional development to a higher degree than in past years.

Professional learning may mean different things to different teachers, but it generally consists of attending seminars or all-day workshops designed to introduce teachers to new and exciting avenues of learning that they can then bring back to their classroom spaces.

These personal learning opportunities essentially support teachers to build upon their pre-existing knowledge and personal skill sets, as well as providing them with opportunities to apply learned theories in real-world settings or using contexts provided by seminar facilitators and their fellow peers.

It's common for many educational institutions to allow their teachers a handful of leave days that are to be spent on professional development, as the NSW Department of Education acknowledges the innate value of these professional learning opportunities for emerging and established teachers.

Even teachers looking to take on lengthier, more expansive courses can seek financial support to do so in the form of the Department of Education's Deferred Salary Scheme, which allows teachers to take a year or so off at a time in order to gain tertiary qualifications that they may need for their desired career advancement pathways.

The impact of COVID-19 on the role of the teacher

So how exactly has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the education system at large?

Home learning has led to many teachers experiencing feelings of burnout, with many freshly qualified teachers discovering that the education they'd received even a year or two prior to the pandemic hadn't prepared them for the rapidly altered landscape of classroom learning.

Aside from the widespread utilisation of digital learning tools like Canvas or Compass learning interfaces, as well as Zoom, Google Meets, and other digital communication tools, the pandemic has also prompted secondary age students to commence independent learning at a younger age.

In the past, students would begin practising independent study techniques at a tertiary level, as interactive classrooms became replaced by university lecture halls. In this age of digital learning, however, younger students have now been expected to take their education into their own hands.

This is naturally easier said than done, especially when you consider that a large portion of Australian secondary level students don't have a clear understanding of what professional pathways they'd like to explore in their tertiary education.

As a result of all of these adverse impacts, teachers have had to find new ways to keep their students motivated to learn, alongside also providing concerned parents with detailed reports throughout the school term.

Gamifying learning materials to keep students engaged remotely, providing one-on-one support for students struggling with online learning, and organising home learning plans with involved parents are now all added responsibilities for teachers who will continue to utilise digital learning tools post-COVID.


Throughout Aussie lockdowns, we've witnessed the sheer value that driven teachers can hold on students from all ages and backgrounds. The education system is the foundation for all professions, and teachers who are able to continue providing high-quality learning experiences to their students even in times of great uncertainty will ensure that our nation's industries stay strong despite any obstacles.

It's likely that tertiary courses for aspiring teachers will continue to grow more far-reaching and explore the dynamic role that technological advancements have played in the evolution of this profession. After all, knowledge of learning technologies is truly foundational learning during this global digital age.