A Shift in Roles
As teachers and learners work together on projects and integrate ICT their roles change.
Role of the Teacher
Project work in the classroom requires a shift in the role of the teacher. Teachers who are accustomed to lecturing and relying on textbooks or pre-created materials may have trouble shifting to a more learner-centred classroom which entails giving up control and allowing learners to work in multiple directions on different activities at the same time. While planning project work requires more time upfront on the part of the teacher, once a project is underway, the teacher has less preparation to do on a daily basis and acts as a coach or facilitator throughout the project. Teachers find this exciting and a way to connect with learners’ individual styles and creativity.
Role of the Learner
Project work also calls for a shift in the role of the learner. Learners may not be used to being placed in an active role in the classroom. In projects, they are called upon to make many decisions, to work collaboratively, to take initiative, to make public presentations, and in many cases, to construct their own knowledge. Although this may be challenging for learners at first, most learners find project work more meaningful, relevant to their lives, and engaging. Thus, they are generally more motivated, perform better on projects, and retain new learning.
Role of the ICT
Although ICT is not essential to project work, it can enhance the learning experience and allow learners the opportunity to make connections to the outside world, find resources, and create products. Some teachers may not be comfortable with newer technologies or may feel that a one-computer classroom is a barrier to using computers as part of project work. These challenges can be overcome. Many teachers may need to accept that they are not the experts of everything and that their learners may know more, especially when it comes to ICT. Learning the technical skills side-by-side with learners or having learners act as technical mentors are some ways to overcome this barrier.
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