Will Online Education Replace Teachers—Or Make Them More Important?
In Colorado, controversy erupted this week when three public school foreign-language teachers lost their jobs when their classes moved online. Will online education be used to replace teachers? Or will it change and even enhance the teacher’s role?
On the Hechinger Institute website, Nick Pandolfo interviews Heather O’Mara, CEO of HOPE Online Learning Academy, a blended-learning school that works with a largely at-risk student population across Colorado. HOPE partners with local community-based organizations to open learning centers where students attend classes.
Q: Many people express fear that as technology increases, the need for teachers decreases. Is this the case?
A: Online is really just a method of delivery just like the classroom is, and I think the role of the teacher is almost more important in an online environment or hybrid environment than in a traditional classroom.
I think the role of the teacher is changing and is going to continue to change no matter what the delivery model is. But I think what’s so critical that I see is that students’ success relies on teacher support. The support is just different. There’s a lot more one-on-one. What the teacher does, how they work with the students, how the teachers embrace technology and work with students as a coach is more and more important. And I think the teacher’s role becomes almost more fulfilling. Our teachers talk about the connection they have with their students, that it’s different from when they taught in a face-to-face environment.
They have the opportunity because of the technology to say, ‘Well, wait a sec, I have all this curriculum to choose from. I’m not set to the textbook or set to lecturing.’ The reality is that when you look at the teacher-student ratio whether it’s in an online environment or a face-to-face environment, when in a face-to-face and you’re with 35 to 40 students now in high schools—so how do you make the teacher’s role more effective so they can also focus on the relationship with the student.”
Read more here, and please share your thoughts!