Are Teachers Becoming Obsolete?

Well, as October winds down and all conference presentations over the past two weeks come to a close a few things come to mind.  First, while at the Tech Forum NY, I got into a number of conversations with other presenters the night before at dinner.   One conversation was with all of the technology and on-line courses available were teachers becoming obsolete?  Now I suppose if I wanted to stir people up I could propose that.  Sure there are great courses available on-line that are often offered for free.  I would encourage people to take advantage of these opportunities.  Learning is a life long process.  However, there is one thing that concerns me. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a strong advocate for technology.  But not for the sake of simply having technology.   As social media grows and develops, students and educators embrace this as a way of opening up doors to learning.  Blogging, tweeting, texting, etc. allow people to express themselves to those beyond their traditional social network.
But beyond all of this, my concern is are we losing our ability in how we relate to one another in real life? Real life?  When I step away from my computer, iPad, smartphone, or any other device and go outside and meet with people face-to-face do I know how to engage in a real life conversations?  A great email was sent to me that showed people out with friends in various social environments where everyone was together physically, but everyone was on their devices texting others.  Michael Rogers, in his keynote address at the CECA conference, spoke about having a discussion with HR people in major companies who told him that their departments are spending more resources on “teaching” employees how to interact with others!
Which brings use back to the beginning…are teachers becoming obsolete?  I would say teachers aren’t obsolete, they are essential as mentors and advisors.  What is obsolete is the methodology that they may use.  We need to take a more student-centered approach.  We need to look into flipping our classrooms.  We need to get students out of their chairs and moving about. In so doing, we work with our students in learning to work collaboratively, cooperatively, and creatively!