Monday, 31 July 2017


Why are teachers passively waiting to be automated?

Did this title capture your attention?
It was meant to be provocative and is actually the opposite message from a previous blog post I wrote (Schools will always be needed no matter how intuitive technology may become!).
However, some futurists believe the role of the teacher will be made obsolete through technological innovation. Take for example Sugata Mitra whose 2013 TedTalk  won him $1 million prize, he stated:
“Schools as we know them are obsolete because we no longer need traditional teachers.”
He envisions the classroom as cloud-based and student-driven as his graphic below portrays:


Michael Godsey, teacher and writer relates:
“The increasingly popular belief that human instructors must cede to computers as the font of knowledge. That's a profound shift that educators have barely begun to contemplate.”
And
“We're at the point where the Internet pretty much supplies everything we need. My daughter gets some help from her teachers, but basically everything she learns — from math to band — she can get from her computer better than her teachers.”
Andy Hines (Assistant Professor University of Houston) gives the best advice when he tells us to:

He believes any job of the future that focuses on personal services, relationships and associated people skills coupled with creativity and critical systems thinking is well placed.
Jared Weiner from the Future Hunters, believes the future will be about new methods of individualized learning. He states that the ability to memorise, retain and apply information will not be enough. Knowing how to learn and the ability to apply novel thinking to never-seen-before challenges will be most useful.
We can now forecast the changing role of the teacher as a shift from imparting core knowledge and skills to focusing on the development of learners’ relational social skills through problem based learning while helping them develop adaptive higher order thinking skills.
Claire A. Nelson, futurist and Sustainability Engineer, believes we must all be ready to:              
She states job security in the future will depend on our ability to learn to learn and the capacity to reinvent ourselves – again, and again and again.
Thomas Frey, well known Futurist speaker from the DaVinci Institute, offers a video about preparing for over 160 jobs that don’t exist yet and 14 hot new skills to be future ready. Among his list of 14 skills there are some I believe teachers need to develop and hone for their future adaptability:
Transitionists – the ability to be open-minded and continue to make transitions
Expansionists - a talent for adapting along with a changing environment
Optimisers – the skill and persistence to tweak your practice to achieve better results
Ethicists – people who can ask the tough questions and standards to apply moral decency to increasingly complex situations
And finally, we all need to be Legacists, that is, be passionate about what the future in education holds and be skilled enough to leave a legacy.
But, back to the original provocation:
Will innovations replace teachers?
From a scan of the available literature the answer at this stage is:
NO!
Innovations may automate teacher expertise by providing core discipline knowledge through on-line personalized curriculum content. However, this shift will actually allow expert teachers to identify and address students’ individual learning needs more efficiently and effectively.
In Teaching in the Machine Age (Thomas Arnett, Christensen Institute, 2016 ) relates it is envisaged that learners will have three types of teachers – computers, non-experts, and expert teachers:


Rather than seeing technological progress as a threat, teachers and education leaders should take advantage of the many ways technology can enhance their work. Computers, non-experts, and expert teachers each have comparative advantages that complement one another. Computers are ideal for targeting students’ basic content and skill gaps and providing teachers with real-time assessment data. Non-experts, such as paraprofessionals and novice teachers, provide the human touch needed for supervising and motivating students and troubleshooting non-academic learning difficulties. Expert teachers carry out sophisticated teaching tasks, including developing new instructional approaches, diagnosing and addressing students’ non-academic learning difficulties, providing feedback on oral and written communication, fostering an achievement-oriented classroom culture, and talking with parents about students’ individual education plans.
I will finish on a positive quote:
Great teachers are the most valuable resource in our education system. And expert teachers’ work is unlikely to be reduced to standardized procedures or automated algorithms anytime soon. 


1 comment:

  1. Great post Lyn,

    I think the key word in the first paragraph is 'traditional' in the sense that teaching continues to evolve and become more artful and less mechanistic.

    It will be interesting to see if the shift changes if AI can ever be 'social', or provide 'love' or empathetic coaching and such-like human aspects.

    Rob ;-)

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