Knowledge Education Essay Teachers

This essay was completed for the subject- INF530 Concepts and Practices for the Digital Age, as part of my Masters of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation) studies.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. 

Image: creative commons licensed ( BY )flickr photo shared by missspink1

Image: creative commons licensed ( BY )flickr photo shared by missspink1

It is the 21st Century.Traditional teaching and learning is changing to keep up with the rapid developments and changes with digital technologies and ever expanding online learning environments. Students today are faced with a differentiated set of skills, attitudes and actions that they will need in order for them to be prepared for, be successful in and meet the challenges of a digital economy (21st Century Learning, 2009). The following video from AITSL (2012) outlines the changing educational paradigms in light of the 21st century.

To be an effective teacher in the 21st century, teachers need to be able to engage and interact with a wide variety of information from an ever increasing range of sources. Wesch (2009) suggests that the media environment educators are currently faced with can become vastly disruptive to traditional teaching methods. Teachers today need to become lifelong learners in an information society where information flows freely, is instant and infinite (Wesch, 2009). For this to occur, teachers and students alike need to develop strategies for engaging with, working with and constructing new knowledge, or as Wesch (2009) describes, moving from being just knowledgeable to knowledge-able. 

But do teachers realise this? Teachers need to be equipped with ever-increasing skills and competencies to manage this hyper-connected, knowledge environment in order to best prepare students for the 21st Century, a world where the only constant they know is change. Redecker et al (2011) describes generic, transversal and cross-cutting skills to be the most important in enabling both students and teachers the flexibility and pro-activeness needed to respond to these fast paced changes. The video below examines some of the changes and unique challenges that are happening in the world today. Whilst it was specifically created for a Canadian school district, it is still relevant to education and the need for teachers to be prepared and develop their skills. 

Today, teachers are constantly challenged to develop their own thinking and practice to prepare students for active and successful participation in a knowledge society, by developing students who are effective knowledge workers and competent citizens for the future (Skilbeck & Connell, 2004). It is because of this that the need for teachers themselves to become modern, productive knowledge workers is crucial for education in 21st century learning environments.

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Knowledge workers have high levels of education; they are workers who think for a living, whose main role surrounds developing and using knowledge. Knowledge workers are highly motivated, possess factual and theoretical knowledge, find and access information effectively, curate and organise information. Teachers are an example of a knowledge worker (Cooper, 2006). In this developing knowledge economy, it is becoming apparent that teachers are faced with the need for higher level skills, flexibility and entrepreneurial teaching and learning (Skilbeck & Connell, 2004). Given this expectation and the description of a knowledge worker, it is obvious that the time for teachers to ‘level up’ is now! 

The following ‘Portrait of a Knowledge Worker‘ (Le Borgne, 2012) illustrates the myriad of characteristics that pertain to knowledge work. 

Image: Portrait of a Knowledge Worker (Le Borgne, 2012).

When exploring the idea that teachers need to become modern knowledge workers in 21st century teaching and learning environments it is important to consider the following characteristics and traits associated with knowledge workers.

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Drucker (1999) identifies innovation as a key characteristic of a knowledge worker. He suggests that if knowledge workers continue innovation and change, those around them come to see change as an opportunity, therefore, having a positive impact on a larger amount of people. In order to continue innovation, a teacher must continue to learn. Moving beyond traditional assumptions of learning as an individual process, 21st century teaching and learning environments are changing the way educators (and students) learn (Nussbaum-Beach & Hall, 2011). In considering the changing scope of today’s learning environments, social learning methodologies should be embraced. Teachers today need to develop dynamic learning mindsets and embrace learning that is social, collaborative and self-directed, these concepts shared in the following video outlining social learning in the 21st century by Lab SSJ(2010). 

Social learning allows emphasis to be placed on real-world interactions between people and the learning process (Ford, 2008). Subsequently, teachers are able to develop their learning and knowledge acquisition through social media tools. Such tools are able to create higher levels of social learning given the faster and wider access to people and resources (Coleman and Lenox, 2010). As a result, teacher learning can happen anywhere, anytime, revolutionising their current knowledge networks.

Significantly, the following explanation and excerpt from the Ted Talk ‘How Web Video Powers Global Innovation’ by Chris Anderson exemplifies how social learning- creates accelerated innovation through crowd sharing and collaboration (Fuse Universal, 2011). 

With continuous, personalised and autonomous learning, punctuated by social learning methodologies, teachers become life-long learners who are abreast of changes occurring in the education realm and know how to apply these changes to their current contexts (Whitby, 2013). Highly effective teachers are successfully able to analyse increasing amounts of information, and model knowledge acquisition, many teachers are doing this through the development of Professional Learning Networks (Trust, 2012), or more commonly referred to as a Personal Learning Network (PLN). 

A significant element of an effective PLN is that it is personalised, teachers – knowledge workersdetermine their own needs and goals and use their connections and networks to acquire information and develop their knowledge (Whitby, 2013). Correlating to this, in ‘Management Challenges for the 21st Century’, Drucker (1999) explains the importance of knowledge workers defining the ‘task’, by asking themselves- What is the purpose? What do I want to achieve? Doing this enables a PLN to become an incredibly unique, tailored experience that allows teachers to engage in powerful learning experiences (Exley, 2011). As teachers endeavour to create and engage in a PLN they continuously ask themselves these questions in order to personalise their knowledge growth.

Another essential point in evaluating the need for teachers to become modern knowledge workers for the 21st century is the idea that knowledge workers desire different working environments (Tucker, 2013). They are ambitious and yearn for self management; they have to have autonomy (Drucker, 1999). When teachers take control over their own learning through developing a PLN, this autonomy in what they want to learn and how they want to learn becomes apparent. Through this versatile and autonomous learning, they are developing higher skills, leveraging and building knowledge and continuing self-development (Jayasingam & Ren Yong, 2013). Importantly, Stevens (2010) emphasises that teacher autonomy, through continuous lifelong learning needs to be a skill practiced and mastered before applying similar concepts with students. 

The following image from Seitzinger (2010) effectively illustrates common tools and design elements of effective PLNs. 

Image: creative commons licensed ( BY-SA )flickr photo shared by catspyjamasnz

As teachers embrace becoming modern knowledge workers in 21st century teaching and learning environments they, as described by Berry, Byrd and Wieder (2013), are encouraging and exhibiting the full extent of collective innovation and creativity. 

Sir Ken Robinson below explains this notion of innovation and the importance of creativity in education.

Creativity is essential for preparing students effectively for a digital, information and knowledge based economy. In order for them to be successful in a workforce where many jobs do not even exist yet, they need to think differently. Teachers need to become productive modern knowledge workers who embrace this level of education and adopt a more unconventional approach to thinking and creating (Wooten, 2013).

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Teachers as knowledge workers think beyond traditional education paradigms. They act as a coach, coordinator and mentor as described by John Seely Brown in the Global One Schoolhouse video (DML Research Hub, 2012). He describes the importance of learning and teaching happening simultaneously in environments that are full of play, imagination, tinkering, making, change and webs of connections. It is entrepreneurial learning.  

Continuing innovation as a teacher, knowledge worker, in 21st century teaching and learning environments means taking risks. This is crucial for the future of education and a significant catalyst for change (Heick, 2013). In order to teach creative and innovative thinking, teachers must have the skills to think differently themselves. They need creative spaces and tools and a range of frameworks that help to develop their own criteria of achieving quality and success (Heick, 2014). Taking risks and generating change is attune to what is known about entrepreneurs (Berry, 2013). Teachers, knowledge workers, are self-reliant, highly optimistic, they embrace and lead change, they generate new ideas, they innovate.  They are ‘Teacherpreneurs’ (Berry, 2013).

Image: creative commons licensed ( BY )flickr photo shared by missspink1

The need for teachers to become productive, modern knowledge workers in 21st century teaching and learning environments is essential. Given the fast paced digital, information and knowledge based society in which traditional educational paradigms are being challenged, teachers need to change and keep up so they can best prepare students for the future. Developing the skill sets to become knowledge workers allows teachers to embrace the changes and challenges they are faced with. Teachers who commit to ongoing and dynamic further learning mindsets, making the most of the affordances of social learning methodologies and cultivate a desire to embrace change and think differently are modern and productive knowledge workers. Drucker (1999) once described a productive knowledge worker as one that works hard to improve and is valued as a capital asset. Thinking in this way, teachers as knowledge workers could have the potential to become the most powerful and valuable assets for the future of education.  

Image: creative commons licensed ( BY )flickr photo shared by missspink1

21st Century Learning [White paper]. (2009). Qatar Academy.

Berry, B., Byrd, A., & Wieder, A. (2013). Teacherpreneurs: Innovative teachers who lead but don’t leave. John Wiley & Sons

Coleman, M., & Lenox, M. (2010). Using social networks: to create powerful learning communities: today’s electronic social media tools allow for far greater and swifter access to people and resources than was previously possible. Computers in Libraries30(7), 12+. Retrieved May 18, 2014 from

Cooper, D. (2006). Knowledge Workers. Canadian Business79(20), 59.

DML Research Hub. (2012). The Global One Room Schoolhouse: John Seely Brown (Highlights). [Video File]. Retrieved May 12, 2014, from

Drucker, P. F. (1999). Management challenges for the 21st century. New York: HarperBusiness.

Edge, K. (2013). Rethinking Knowledge Management: Strategies for Enhancing
District-Level Teacher and Leader Tacit Knowledge Sharing, Leadership and Policy in Schools. Retrieved May 18, 2014 from

edSurge. (2014). How Teachers are Learning: Professional Development Remix. Retrieved May 25, 2014 from

Exley, S. (2011). Connect, communicate, collaborate. The Times Educational Supplement Scotland, (2245), 26. Retrieved May 18, 2014 from

Flanigan, R. L. (2012). Professional learning networks taking off. Education Digest: Essential Readings Condensed for Quick Review, 77(7), 42-45. Retrieved from

Ford, N. (2008). Education. In Web-based learning through educational informatics: Information science meets educational computing (pp. 75-109). Hershey, PA: IGI Global. Retrieved from:

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Heick, T. (2014). Are You Teaching Content or Thought. [Blog Post]. Retrieved May 18, 2014, from

Jayasingam, S. and Ren Yong, J. (2013) Affective commitment among knowledge workers: the role of pay satisfaction and organization career management, The International Journal of Human Resource Management. Retrieved May18, 2014 from

Lab SSJ. (2010, September 9). Social Learning. Retrieved from

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Loughran, J. (2010). What expert teachers do: Enhancing professional knowledge for classroom practice. London: Routledge.

Nussbaum-Beach, S. & Hall, L.R. (2011). The Connected Educator. United States: Solution Tree. 

Raelin, J. A. (1989). Teacher autonomy and managerial control. The Education Digest, 54(8), 16. Retrieved May 18, 2014 from

Redecker C, Leis M., Leendertse M., Punie Y., Gijsbers G., Kirschner P., Stoyanov S. and Hoogerveld B. (2011). The future of learning: preparing for change, Institute for Prospective Technological Studies, JRC European Commission.

Skilbeck, M. and Connell, H. (2004) Teachers for the Future- The changing nature of society and related issues for the teaching workforce. Retrieved May 11, 2014, from

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Trust, T. (2012). Professional Learning Networks Designed for Teacher Learning. Journal Of Digital Learning In Teacher Education28(4), 133-138. Retrieved

Tucker, M. (2013). Tucker’s Lens: The Teacher as Professional: Confirmed! Retrieved May 18, 2014, from

Wesch, M. (2009). From knowledgable to knowledge-able: Learning in new media environments, Academic Commons, Center of Inquiry in the Liberal Arts, Wabash College, Crawfordsville, IN

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The following essay is one that I wrote in the Fall Semester of 2008 in ECI 102- Introduction to Middle Grades Education.  ECI 102 is the first education class that I took at NC State, so I wrote this when I was truly beginning to learn about the education system and the teaching profession.  During the course, we were assigned to write an essay about our thoughts on what it meant to be an effective teacher.  We were told to reference our class textbook, the LEAD/SERVE conceptual framework at NC State, and the INTASC principles.  I learned a lot about effective teaching from writing this essay and I will strive to be an effective teacher in the near future. 

Tara Hill

ECI 102


Effective Teaching

There are many techniques, skills, and practices that can make a teacher effective.In my opinion, being an effective teacher means allowing an environment that enables students to learn in the classroom to their best abilities.When effective teaching is practiced, students develop a love for learning and gain new knowledge about what they are studying.Effective teaching can stem from many different practices and ideas such as attitude toward subject matter, implementing different learning styles into lessons, and being passionate about the subject being taught.All of these ideas can help a teacher become more effective in the classroom.It is true that effective teaching also allows students to better understand new material and difficult content.

Effective teaching takes time and effort.“Effective teaching is much more than an intuitive process. A teacher must continually make decisions and act on those decisions” (Cooper 149).Being a teacher means making several decisions concerning planning for instruction, developing teaching strategies, and evaluating outcomes of lesson plans.After a lesson is taught, it is crucial to make note if any changes are necessary for next time.If the lesson was successful, the teacher will know to keep using that strategy in the future.One of the main steps to becoming an effective teacher is to gain intimate knowledge toward the subject matter that will be taught in the classroom (Cooper, 149).Also, according to NC State’s College of Education’s LEAD/SERVE conceptual framework, an effective teacher must demonstrate an understanding of the education context.In other words, an effective teacher should be able to show that he or she is knowledgeable in the subject that is being taught.Another way to help students in the learning process is to make the content meaningful. For this to take place “the teacher understands the central concepts, tools of inquiry, and structures of the discipline he or she teachers and creates learning experiences that make these aspects of subject matter meaningful for students” (INTASC Principles).I believe that teaching the content in a way that students can relate to or in some way apply it into their own life will help them to understand it.

Another major factor in helping a teacher become effective is attitude. “Many people believe that the teacher’s personality is the most critical factor in successful teaching.If teachers have warmth, empathy, sensitivity, enthusiasm, and humor, they are much more likely to be successful than if they lack these characteristics” (Cooper 157).I definitely believe that this statement holds true.As I think back to high school, the teachers who had the most pleasant personalities inspired me to want to learn.Their personalities made such a huge difference when teaching because it made the class so much more fun and enjoyable. I also think that attitude toward subject matter is extremely important.The student can often tell if the teacher is passionate about what he/she is teaching.Being passionate about a subject encourages and inspires others to want to learn about it.I have found that teachers who clearly demonstrate no interest in what they are teaching tend not to be effective.After all, why should the students want to learn the material if the teacher finds it boring? Also, becoming a teacher leader could even encourage other teachers to develop a good attitude, which in turn, will benefit more students.A teacher’s attitude will more than likely influence the students.Also, having a positive outlook and being a role model for students will help with the learning process.After all, attitudes are contagious!

Additionally, effective teaching depends on if different learning styles are implemented into lesson plans.It is important for a teacher to realize that not every student learns in the same way. Some students may be better visual learners while others are better at hands on activities.Incorporating different learning styles will let each student have the ability to learn in a way that comes most natural to them.A teacher I observed once said to her students, “I am giving a variety of options for this project because each student deserves their chance to shine.”I have never forgotten this statement because I think it is so important to provide a variety of activities. According to Walburg, “using a variety of teaching models” is an important technique when it comes to being an effective teacher.Also, according to the INTASC principles, “The teacher understands how students differ in their approaches to learning and creates instructional opportunities that are adapted to diverse learners.”It is evident that it is necessary to be aware of the different ways that students process information and eventually learn the material.Another teacher that I observed was friendly yet strict with her students.I believe that it is necessary to make sure the students know that the teacher has the authority.However, I also believe that making sure students know that they can talk to their teacher when they have a problem is important.When I become a teacher, I want my students to know that they have my trust and can confide in me.Encouraging student involvement is another effective teaching strategy that I noticed when observing.It appeared to me that the students were engaged in the work they were doing and also in the material they were learning.This told me that this particular teacher was indeed practicing effective teaching methods.

When it comes to effective teaching, there are many techniques that can better a teacher’s ability to enable students to learn.As anyone can tell, becoming an effective teacher is not easy.It takes a lot of planning, patience, and hard work.However, no matter how much work it takes, I believe that taking these necessary steps are crucial to my success as a teacher.Changing the lives of students, providing them with new knowledge, and giving them the materials necessary to help lead a bright future is my priority.If this means doing anything that is in my control to become an effective teacher, then I will strive to do just that.

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