Like everything, the role of professoriate has been evolving in the 21st century and it will further keep on changing. Gone are the days when professors lectured large classes and students carefully listened to them while taking notes in their notebooks. Technology has brought about a major shift in how we learn. At the same time, there has been a lot of push from education researchers to implement learner-centered pedagogy in classrooms. And finally, academia has started to realize the inherent discrimination and exclusion that is propagated by the current education system and there is a need to impart education that is not only inclusive but also geared toward raising critical consciousness in students. The following paragraphs elaborate these points in details.
Use of technology: Students in the current times live in a digital world. They are connected to the Internet most of their day, are avid gamers, have shorter attention-span, and are experts in multi-tasking. They can get the same information being conveyed to them by the instructor in a classroom on the internet using their phones and hence do not necessarily need to pay attention to a lecture being delivered to them. The educators of the 21st century need to make use of the Internet and other technological advancements to engage students in the learning process and help them learn better.
Learner-centric pedagogy: Education research suggests that students learn and retain the content better if they are actively engaged in the learning process. At the same time, student-centric approaches increase student motivation to learn, build on students’ prior knowledge, help improve the transfer of learning from classroom to the real-life situations, and increase student metacognition. Hence, educators should move away from the lecture-based model of teaching to project-based and problem-based approach to learning which are student-centric.
Inclusive and critical education: Critical education aims to raise social and political awareness among students, help them recognize authoritarian tendencies in the classroom and the society, and empower them to raise voices against injustice and discrimination. Such an educational approach departs from the "baking system" of education which teats students as passive receivers of knowledge. Instead, critical education treats students as active agents in the process of knowledge construction. The teachers, instead of acting as "dispensers of knowledge" act as "transformative agents" who help students transform reality by constantly interacting with it. The present day education should aim at promoting critical consciousness in students. Also, education should be inclusive in that it provides opportunity to all the students irrespective of their class, race, gender, nationality, sexuality, and other identities to learn and thrive without discrimination and prejudice of any kind.
As the future educators, it becomes our responsibility to keep up with the changes in the nature of teaching and learning. We need to devise teaching strategies that effectively use the technology around us to foster students’ learning, use approaches that are centered on the students instead of being focused on the teachers, and, most importantly, get rid of the banking model of education. We need to create a learning environment that empowers students from all backgrounds and identities, and raises critical awareness in them.