Throughout most of the world, teaching is an underappreciated job. But recent evidence across the globe shows the many variations in which they struggle. There was the Time cover series on what it’s like to be a teacher in the US, which most colleagues in emerging countries (both my parents included) would deem as comfortable. Nigeria’s teacher continue their decades long struggle with student hunger as well as their own, securing high-skilled vacancies and a systemic brain drain for the coming decades. The list goes on.
Teaching jobs show similar dynamics to entry level types, except the required qualifications. High churning, leading to disproportionate staff onboarding costs. Permanent risk of unfilled posts which does not translate to higher wages. Strained career and professional development options. Not to mention the increased physical and mental health hazards. In the UK, an interim report of teaching conditions suggests a generalized high degree of dissatisfaction. Many of the regrettable trends play faithfully. With valuable management, critical thinking and technical skills so appreciated in other sectors, it seems as if the reward awaiting the most competent teachers is a new job.
Moodle may help, more Moodle training may not
Today’s job markets share little in common with those of just a few decades ago, and definitely less than what large swaths of people, institution and policies pretend to believe. As digital lives showcase personal narratives with broader and higher detail, more people embrace the nature of their work as long as it makes it possible for them to publicly share achievements at a reasonably constant rate. Which speaks directly to one of the key findings in the UK study. Instead of the amount of hours, limited vacations or other unpleasantries, a better predictor of frustration on the clock is an abundance of tasks they consider “meaningless.” Excessive burdens not only compromise the ability to engage in more creative problem-solving, they fail to speak to a sense of progress, or what some find valuable to understand as a “growth mindset.”
Discussing ways to improve the situation gets muddled. What sector or government officials see as a groundbreaking solution, can easily be construed as piling on the burdens. Unfortunately, some of the ways educational technologies get introduced to teachers and classrooms are glaring examples. Considering the widespread place of Moodle, it’s only natural the well-intentioned LMS is regularly met with skepticism at best, scorn at worst.
What can we do about it? While research is ongoing, it is clear that fostering a more appreciative attitude towards Moodle, perhaps in ways that measurably contribute to job satisfaction, requires at least three levels of action:
- On the individual, mindset does play a role (to an extent) in understating how a tool like Moodle can help, but more than that, in seeing the investment worth their limited patience. Of course, there are many justifications for their skepticism, in which case social tools like support groups can help.
- On the institutional, up to the policymaking sphere, initiatives such as reviews, monitoring and inspections should focus on dialog rather than imposition, and a “show, not tell” approach to the benefits of Moodle. Training teachers in how to use Moodle can be done in a monotone, “tick-the-box” attitude, or in a way that evidences how creative Moodle mastery leads to higher productivity and professional advancement.
- On Moodle itself. Given the chronic global challenges the LMS announces it will tackle with growing confidence, we should expect more conscious and speedy enhancement in the teacher experience, that makes Moodle valuable in as short a time span as possible, and why not, makes the process as entertaining as possible.■