Influencers: Taking on the education establishment

Influencers: Taking on the education establishment

Influencers: Taking on the education establishment

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on The Conversation on August 7, 2018.

Vera Chopin-Vickery looks at the striking similarities between radio announcer Fred Rogers and a new generation of “influencers”:

Have you ever caught a glimpse of Fred Rogers, the creator of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” and thought, “How nice it would be if my life was like that”?

Similarities have been noted with current radio and online radio personalities. In my own field of education, we’ve noted the importance of recognising “influencers” who help educate learners about what is important and how to think in new ways. Influencers might be faculty, students, or citizens who inspire students to act on learning opportunities.

Often, their influence is very personal, working through the personal connection to the source, or through the mechanism of videos, media, or events that use the origins, through which the speaker educates learners to connect to their audiences. Influencers’ interactions are no longer passive. They are no longer speaking to others, but actively acting on learning opportunities.

Several different ways

Unlike radio ads, online videos, podcasts, or live streaming performances, influencers don’t necessarily have to be speaking in front of a large group of listeners.

They can be intimately engaging one-on-one.

We need to see this more often. When studying influencers we need to step away from looking only at the top, who may be speaking at public events or speaking in recorded interviews. Rather, we should look for short, on-demand teaching tools through which individuals could start their own empowerment workshops.

Influencer packages are simple, low-cost, easy-to-use teaching tools.

Tools like online teacher training and audio resources that could facilitate educational events in small groups can effectively serve the need for an individual to learn more by engaging their peers. This reduces the sense of mastery, and when learners are not learning, they disengage. And to prevent this, we need a set of formal programmes to re-engage learners, encourage them to engage in emergent learning, and provide training in what to do next.

They also provide the opportunity for meaningful engagement.

Appetite for learning

We need to encourage the desire to learn, and we need to do so with short, easy-to-use skills.

In my own career, I saw a shift in educator use of data-driven teaching interventions as a means of preparing their students for innovative assessments and learning opportunities. We can do this at home too.

Digital skills, such as media literacy, and the ability to recognise and empathise with the experiences of others will be essential. As “influencers” and advocates of high standards and education, it is important to note that they will not be leading a revolution overnight, but rather the political and cultural forces that slowly take hold.

Anya Kamenetz is an Education Fellow at the New America Foundation

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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