This blog is the second of a three-part series on Digitizing Pedagogy in the Age of Teaching Superpowers.

Ironically, the world is hooked on the stories behind superheroes, not just because they twist and turn, but also because they always indirectly teach us human spirit, inner strengths, and better approaches to life. Picking up from the cliffhanger at the end of Part 1 of this blog series, in teaching, the art of storytelling is how we engage students and stimulate them to take ownership and interest in a subject. It is how we encourage their passion to seek a deeper understanding. I have always thought of this as a definable teaching super power, something that all good teachers possess.

However, in education, that new technology can negatively impact our evolution of teaching methodology. The fear of the unknown can create a lack of confidence and perception of overwhelming expectations. The speed at which students and parents can access information to check facts, delve deeper into a topic, and test the teacher in super quick time can have a teacher spinning on a dime. Modern pedagogy must change to match the pace of digital disruption, integrating digital technology into the structure of a classroom or curricula, so teachers maintain that important “superhero” position, the oracle of truth and the center of instruction, maximizing engagement and driving student success.

So, the good news is that the evolution of technology in education means we are about to enter the era where teachers can truly use super human powers!

Think about that, what are teaching super powers? If you look at the real superhero powers where technology has given extraordinary human power, Batman’s belt, Ironman’s suit, or even Doctor Who’s sonic screwdriver, we can inspire many iterations that are unique to teaching. Oh, and there are many, just check out the catalog of powers and origin stories in the superhero universe.

The omnibus of superheroes and their powers inspires us for a plethora of defined powers that can be linked to the use of technology in education. The definition of teaching super powers is not necessary as crazy or silly an idea as you may think. The speed at which a teacher can respond to a student in peril, the intuition of a teacher to adapt to what will help a student overcome a roadblock, or even the ability to accommodate students by allowing them to learn anytime and anywhere.

Just for fun, or as a team workshop exercise, list some super powers you would like to have. Do this with your faculty and IT staff, and I bet you could easily fill a page. Here are the ones that I collected from a number of teaching and technology workshops across the country.

  • Ability to be in multiple places at one time
  • Super hearing
  • Teleportation – individual/class
  • Super Senses – to know when a student is in trouble
  • Mind reading/recognition of learning issues
  • Universal communication language
  • Speed of light
  • Flying, alternative perspectives
  • Photographic memory
  • Time travel
  • Empathy
  • Laugh at terrible jokes…

All of these (ok, you have to feign laughter on your own) today or in the very near future, can be provided for teachers with the latest video technology, collaboration tools, integration of cloud applications, and the use of Artificial Intelligence and Virtual and Augmented reality. Even more teaching super powers will become possible in the next few years with the use and advancements in more sophisticated analytics in each of these spaces.

For example, an entire class in Kentucky recently used Cisco Telepresence video to transport themselves to a scuba diver, live on the sea bed of the Great Barrier Reef. We can call this the power of teleportation.

Using video translation, a student who speaks not a word of French, is able to read in perfect English the full transcript from the court papers of Versailles, during the era of Marie Antoinette. This use of augmented technology is the power to gain capabilities or skills that instantly enable a deeper level of learning.

Another teacher used a robot (BOT) to interact with a study group’s collaboration space, providing relevant information on the International Space Station, which helped them get an A on their Science project. At the same time, she was able to focus on individual students who struggled with the common curriculum of the planets. This power gives the teacher the ability to leap from study group to students with accommodations as if always present, giving the appearance of super speed and response.

In the near future, a teacher can use augmented reality to project anatomical information onto their own bodies to help teach biology online class…Okay you get my point.

These are just a few teaching super powers that are happening today and will become mainstream in the next few years. So, as teachers, where do we start, and is it even possible to use these technologies in your school? Let’s activate our teaching super powers!

To be continued.



Neal Tilley

Cisco Education Advisor