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This is a personal Blog of Dr. Sanjaya Mishra to reflect, share and discuss developments related to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Education, Open and Distance Learning, and Training Technologies, in general and India in particular.
Teachers in the distance education systems perform various roles and tasks. In spite of their complex responsibilities, the role of teachers in distance education is considered to be of low esteem and respect. This is partly due to the implementation of the system of teaching-learning in many so called distance teaching institutions that hardly care for quality and and the philosophy of the system. Most of the times, distance educators face problem of parity and recognition of their work as teaching. At some places the non-teaching staff also question the status of teachers in distance education. Being involved in the distance education system for the last 14 years, I tried to analyze the roles performed by the teachers in the distance education system. I realized that there are six Gowns that a teacher in distance education system put on depending on the time and context – the gown of a teacher, a technologist, a counsellor, an evaluator, a researcher, and overall a manager. It is the last gown that is more problematic to the teaching professionals, as teaching is only considered to be something that is done in the four walls of a classroom, and all other managerial activities are performed by other staff. In distance education, the managerial gown is put on by the teachers most of the times, leading to a thinking that distance educators are not teachers in real sense of the term. In reality, the meaning of the teacher is changing, and therefore, we need to look into these six gowns that a teacher in distance education put on from time to time. In fact, a true teacher in distance education is one who switch gowns at ease, and perform multiple roles with care, and passion. Let's look at these Gowns:
Whatever may be the perception about distance educators, it is true that they switch gowns from time to time. The Managerial gown is probably more visible, and therefore, it needs more proactive action on the part of the distance educators to put on other GOWNS more frequently.
Special Thanks to Dr. Pankaj Khare for the graphics on this post.