Role of the Teacher in Online Education

Stephen Downes, respected thought-leader in online education, recently gave a talk titled, We don’t need no educator: The role of the teacher in today’s online education at the Norwegian Association for Distance Education (NADE) in which he discussed the rapidly changing role of the educator in online learning and made the case for why instead of the traditional “expert” role, online educators serve in a host of roles, including:

…as Learner

  • Collector
  • Connector
  • Curator
  • Artist
  • Sharer
  • Scientist

…as Designer

  • Programmer
  • Alchemist
  • Convener

…as Coach

  • Salesperson
  • Agitator
  • Mentor
  • Coordinator
  • Facilitator
  • Conversationalist
  • Tech Support

…as Expert

  • Lecturer
  • Moderator
  • Demonstrator
  • Broadcaster
  • Theorizer
  • Evaluator
  • Bureaucrat

Stephen makes some enlightening points in his talk and I recommend it for anyone interested in the potential for online learning and in particular, the dynamics of learning in a massive open online course. If you find online learning interesting, you’ll enjoy Stephen’s talk. NADE has kindly recorded the talk and made available both part 1 and part 2 and I’m also embedding them below.

Do you agree with the points Stephen has made? What roles did he exclude that you’d suggest be added? Leave a comment with your thoughts!