Why writing about „traditional”, while exploring the concept of „tradigital teacher” in the era of 21st century flourished, addicted and flooded with technology? Why crying for the „trad” prefix? I strongly believe that balance is the key and that all the approaches and methods that have emerged and were later washed away gave their part to the manner we teach (languages) today. Putting these approaches and methods aside in a corner, to forget about and collect dust, while persuing the modern trends without looking back is a hazardous approach. On the other hand, taking into account the brightest insights of all the approaches, methods, principles etc. and applying them purposefully or merging them is blissful and inspiring, at least for me.

Being born in the Balkans in 1982 I was exposed to the traditional model of teaching. As I started teaching in 2003, I relied on that model while trying to bridge from it to an increasing trend and demand for technology incorporation and learner-centered approach. So I do feel like a hybrid, what about you? While thinking about this, the image that keeps coming to my mind is from the film/series “Robocop” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RoboCop_(franchise)#RoboCop_(1987)  Who is described as having  “superhuman strength, advanced intellect, anti-ballistic carbon frame and titanium plates, enhanced motor and sensory capabilities”.

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes feel as if I should grow into a cyborg teacher to catch up with all the existing trends and be a proficient 21st century English teacher. Although I do enjoy new technology and the thrills and innovation  it brings, I cannot resist the feeling that there are so many notions I do not know and so many tools I have not tried. Moreover, I am constantly honing new skills, while at the same time forgetting the ones I have already honed.  Despite these trends, we must agree on the fact that the aim has been always the same:  teachers should teach and students should learn.

What are the qualities and skills of a tradigital teacher that incorporates the old and the new?  How to do that wisely? How to make the selection? In order to clearly define two notions “traditional” and “digital” let’s explore dictionary definitions. My preference is either Longman or Cambridge dictionaries – which I love from my school days.

traditional” (Longman Dictionary)

1. being part of the traditions of a country or group of people

2. following ideas and methods that have existed for a long time, rather than doing anything new or different SYN conventional

digital“(Cambridge Dictionary)

1. recording or storing information as a series of the numbers 1 and 0, to show that a signal is present or absent:

2. using or relating to digital signals and computer technology

3. showing information in the form of an electronic image:

teacher” (Longman Dictionary)

someone whose job is to teach, especially in a school

So if we tried to comprise these three definitions we could say that a” tradigital teacher” would be “a person whose job is to teach, usually in a school, who has a certain set of ideas and methods that have existed for a long time and who can transmit the information in the digital form or manner and by doing that he/she is adapting their set of ideas and methods to a new environment while still doing the same (awesome) job” (definition by Tijana Dabić, PhD). Any comments? Would you add, remove or modify the definition? Be free to offer your suggestions.

Searching for the term “tradigital” was not easy. It still has not been included in any formal dictionaries. The definitions I have found are from online sources. To cite one of them (https://www.pcmag.com/encyclopedia/term/tradigital  )

(TRAditional DIGITAL) Using non-digital methods and computers to produce art, printed material and animations. Scanning printed photos into a digital collage, using hand-drawn cells and computer-generated imagery to produce animation and using digital techniques to produce plates for traditional printing presses are examples. The term was coined by art instructor Judith Moncrieff in the early 1990s.

As we can see, the term emerged in the field of art in the 90s. However, this is not the domain I first encountered it in a TedTALK on the topic  Digital natives vs. digital immigrants by Sree Sreenivasan.  Defining the term “tradigital” Sreenivasan says “it means that you are great at whatever industry you work in, you understand the traditional parts of it, all the skills, all the values, but what you bring to the table are all new skills. You have a digital overlay. But notice that the word “traditional” is first… Digital mindset is not about where you come from or your age but what you can do”. For himself he says: “I know where the technology comes from and I know where it is going”

So having all this said above in the process of defining “tradigital teacher” we can include four new keywords “past”, “present” “mindset” and “layers”.  Tradigital teachers should be knowledgeable about the ways of teaching in past, be equipped with the new skills needed for present and be aware of the path the education is taking in the future and skilful at making the wise selection in the time-machine of ideas and methods – a well-combined, high-quality merger of traditional and digital mindset. To fulfil these demands we are talking about layers. This is not an easy thing. When considering the layers of skills and expertise concerning language teaching and teaching in general, you probably want to look and act as in Picture 2. But often end-up feeling as in picture 3. – not fully functional.

Picture 1
Picture 2

By dwelling on this topic I have come to the conclusion that I need to do some spring cleaning in my big approach –method –new trends compartment.  By making evaluation and selection as well of my teaching practice as well as the methods/approaches I feel most comfortable with and find them useful in my teaching practice. So let’s start the journey and explore the teaching practice world.

Picture 4.

The website and the blog have been made for this adventure. I ask you to join me on this trip. The tradigital concept should connect the old and new, the senior and the junior teachers, give the earned value to everything it deserves from the standpoint of 2021 with eyes wide-open into the future and provide you with a quality and diverse pallet to choose what suits you most.

Tijana Dabić


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