Are Teachers Obsolete?

Artificial Intelligence and Modern Education

Science fiction books and movies have predicted the takeover of the world by human like robots for decades.  In some sectors of society, this fantasy has become a reality as computer technology replaces cashiers, bank tellers, and even waiters. However, could the same happen in our brave new schools of tomorrow?

 

How AI Has Already Changed Education

Education has been significantly changed by technology in recent years.  The use of smart boards, tablets, and e-books are hallmarks of modern classrooms. Instead of drawing a picture of a giraffe on the chalkboard, teachers can now pull up live feed of zoo webcams.  Hundreds of books can be carried in a backpack without even noticing it.

 

AI tutoring, online practice, and computer generated review are all common uses of technology that are allowing students to access more help without costing taxpayers more money or stretching a teacher’s already limited time even thinner.  The use of innovation for drill and review in subject matters like math is a smart use of resources in schools where teachers are continually expected to do more with less.

 

The other ways that education has changed is more subtle.  Computer apps have replaced taking attendance. Parents can view grades hourly instead of just on report cards.  Technology has also made assessments that grade themselves, with AI they also provide feedback to instruct students in how they can improve next time. The automation of many tedious tasks, has helped to relieve time constraints on teachers.

 

Online School and Autopilot Teaching

The Internet has revolutionized how we learn, access information, and conduct our daily lives.  With the speed of light, information is distributed all over the globe.  This has led to a boon in the learning industry. Instead of classes conducted at set times in a brick and mortar school, they can be accessed any time of day by anyone the world over with a click of a mouse.

 

While most of these classes are still taught by people and then distributed electronically, automated learning does exist.  Apps that are coded to instruct and then assess are a growing trend.  AI teaching is a real phenomenon.

 

With this trend, online schools have popped up to serve every need and style of learning.  These include public schools for children in grades K-12.  These schools allow less teachers to reach more students in less time for less money.  This new version of public school meets homeschooling has left many wondering if school building will one day be laid to waste.

 

The Human Connection

There is much to learn thanks to technological advances and access to information. The automation of instruction has opened doors to learning and changed the face of educational play.  However, none of these can actually replace the human connection that we all desire and need.

 

Algorithms, coding, apps, they all have their place in our information age.  In the ways that they have made our lives easier, there are also drawbacks–viruses, hackers, internet predators, etc. We need to be sure to keep technology in its rightful place, a useful tool but not real life.

 

The arts of compassion, intuitive conversation, and companionship through life, cannot be replaced by even the best AI.  We are One Planet, One People united not by codes and programs but by our intellect, interaction, and understanding.  The one element of this life that can never be replicated is the human touch.

 

Remember that Robot from Third Grade, It Changed My Life!

Education is so much more than checklists, assessments, and lessons learned. It is the development of connections, understanding, and perspective.  When thinking back to our own education, we will not remember pedagogy, curriculum, and educational trends, what impacts us most is the people who taught us.

AI is changing the role of teachers from instructors to facilitators and guides, but it will never replace the value of a good and dedicated teacher.  Passing on knowledge and know how from one generation to the next is the hallmark of the human existence.  In our quest for more knowledge, the who will always be as important as the how.

 

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Why It Matters

Education is a human right.

 

No Way Out

Imagine being left in a box, a dark, sealed box with no means of escape.  You had just barely enough to keep you alive in way of oxygen and nourishment and that was it.  How long could you stay there?  How long would you want to stay there?

 

Lack of education and crippling poverty most often go hand in hand, they are wicked friends who hold so many captive throughout their lives.  Snatching opportunities to move beyond mere existence, the lack of resources for much of the world has keep generations in boxes of despair.

Education in History

Education is as old as time.  The process of passing skills on to the next generation, mentoring, apprenticing, inspiring discoveries is what makes us human.  Without education and the freedom to apply what is learned, our history would be very bleak.  Discoveries would not be made. Hypothesis would not be tested. Improvements would not be pursued. The edge of mere existence would be the fate of all.

 

The hallmark of a civilization is the accumulation and perpetuation of knowledge.  Civilized societies create languages, and a written system to record them.  Understanding of mathematics leads the way to an economy and commerce.  Our world has moved continually toward a deeper understanding and higher level of thinking, except for those who for socioeconomic reasons have been stripped of their rights to a civilized existence.

 

Education is not merely attending school, but being given the resources to move beyond surviving to thriving.  In the world of ultra-poverty, of complete devastation devoid of any resources, an education is an impossibility.

 

Opening the Trap

An opportunity to learn and grow not only enriches a life, but gives a person the means to live it.  The poorest of the poor do not only need more food, they need the know how to find and earn quality food.  More than their physical needs, their minds need to be fed to allow for thought, wonder, ingenuity, and reason.  Just as a body must be trained to perform athletically, a mind must be shaped and nurtured to perform on a higher academic plane.

 

Providing resources and opportunity for the world’s poor to be educated benefits the entire world as it is an investment in our collective future. That investment will pay off in dividends of cleaner environments, safer childhoods, healthier communities, problems solved, inventions created, conflicts settled, and stable families established.

 

Education of today’s children provides the means for them to provide sustenance, shelter, and stability to the children of tomorrow.  As One Planet, One People, it is paramount that we come together to build up cultures of learning through access to educational resources that build hope.

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Dad

My Dad Helped Me Build my Future

Thanks Dad.

It’s Father’s Day in the United States. For some this is a good day to Bar-B-Que or go out to dinner. For others, it is just another day or even a source of pain. For me, I can’t help but look back on my childhood and give thanks for the father that I had (and still have).

In no way am I claiming a perfect childhood. I have no rose colored glasses, I assure you. However, I do have a dad with an adventurous spirit and a love of education (and by default, educating). Together, with my mother, Dad created an educational whirlwind of a childhood and opened doors and opportunities that still help me today. So instead of talking about an article or some crazy technology innovation today, I’m going to share some memories and with them ideas that can help you build your child’s future.

Adventure.

It was not uncommon for my weekend to involve finishing Church services and my dad announcing when we hopped into the van that everyone needed to get inside, get changed and load up the car with beach chairs and towels. I’m sure a lot of kids in South Florida experienced that. Fewer experienced the three hour drive as we would go discover some new beach and the ham radio that we all had to be quiet so Dad could be on. My teenage self was not pleased with these Sundays because they prevented me from spending time with friends and watching TV. Looking back, I became an excellent navigator thanks to the multiple times we got lost in the pre GPS days. It’s a tool that I still use today. We also discovered isolated, beautiful beaches and had the chance to really explore them since they were not crawling with other families. So, pack a bag and take your kids on a local adventure today!

Interact.

Sometimes, instead of the ham radio in the car we would listen to him as he was sitting at his desk and talking to people around the world. He would often run mini contests when we had friends over, just to see how many contacts in how many countries we could make. When the twin towers were attacked, I didn’t need an explanation of where Afghanistan was and it wasn’t the first time I had heard about the Taliban. You see, one evening we were running a contest a few years earlier and we got to speak with a ham operating his illegal station from inside Afghanistan. I remember looking up the country and then the Taliban so I could understand why he couldn’t chat long. Had my father not been willing to interact with me or encourage me to do so with others, I never would have taken that time to learn.

Encourage.

There was never a dream that I had that my father didn’t say was possible. I went through a phase of wanting to be Scully from the X Files, and my dad told me I could absolutely do that. Even though that is nothing close to the career I have found myself in, I never doubted that I was capable. Encouragement to explore and discover who I am and where my interests were was a huge part of me being who I am today. There is no fear when I consider what I want to do in the future. Even now, when I tell my father I want to take on a new endeavor he talks me through the logistics and encourages me.

Educate.

I’m sure most of us have heard that we, as parents, are our children’s first teachers. A more accurate statement would be we are our children’s longest teachers. I’m still learning from my parents in my thirties and I can’t be the only one. I came close to a perfect score on the Vocabulary portion of the SAT. I’m sure part of the reason is that I have always been a voracious reader. However, a stronger part is likely my father. We would sit around the dinner table most evenings and enjoy a meal together as family. During that time there were many common topics and some not so common ones. Whatever the conversation landed on, we were each able to participate. Often, one of us would use a word that my father thought was inaccurate. At that point, we would be challenged to provide the definition of the word and if we did not know it, we would be required to get the dictionary and read the definition out loud. I love my expansive vocabulary and the only people who have offered a challenge in Scrabble in the past 15 years are my siblings.

 

We don’t have to do things the same way my father did, but we do need to consciously create and make available opportunities that encourage a love of learning. My father still does this with my children. While other kids are told to stop asking “Why?”, Dad is actively asking, “Do you know why?” It might drive you nuts but he is taking advantage of the sponges that children are. They absorb knowledge from all around them. So, today, go ask a child if they know why something happens. Listen to their answer and then help them discover what an adventure learning really is.

Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads out there and if you are an educational adventurer give yourself a pat on the back. You are a likely a big reason why your child LOVES to learn.

 

This post is dedicated to my father, a life long learner and adventurous educator. Happy Father’s Day. I love you.

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Lifelong Learning - The Quest for More

The Quest for More

The Quest for More

The Library of Alexandria housed an unfathomable amount of knowledge for the ancient world.  When books and resources were rare, this institution boasted the greatest collection of information ever assembled. It was the masterpiece of the Greek civilization led by Alexander’s lifelong quest to explore and conquer by learning all that was known in the world. His thirst for knowledge changed human history!

Knowledge and personal growth have always been prized as an avenue for success.  There is so much to learn, it is a process that could last a lifetime and never be exhausted.  So much more in this modern age of information where masses of data lay right at our fingertips.

 

What is Lifelong Learning?

Lifelong learning is defined as “the ‘ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated’ pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons. Therefore, it not only enhances social inclusion, active citizenship, and personal development, but also self-sustainability, as well as competitiveness and employability”

 

Learning is not confined to a school building, textbooks, or a certain number of years of life.  It is a process that stretches beyond place, time, and method. As the sayings go, “ignorance is bliss,” however, “knowledge is power!”

Extended learning is not only enriching for your life, but your mind.  An open mind is fertile ground for innovation.  The more you are exposed to new information and ideas, the more you will understand the world around you and evaluate your beliefs.

It’s not just your mind that might change, learning actually changes the physical makeup of your brain.  Just as exercise is beneficial and necessary for our muscles, bones and overall health, learning flexes and optimizes our brain.  A healthy brain is important, it is the powerhouse for your entire body.

 

Reasons To Be a Lifelong Learner:

  • Employability is one of the greatest motivators to continue studying. Learning new skills, earning a degree, delving deeper into your chosen field all make for more successful careers and higher pay.  In a word, it creates wealth. Learning also increases motivation.  Lifelong learners are self-starters and prosper in any economy.
  • Personal enrichment through learning makes for an interesting and active life no matter your age. Learning how to knit, play the piano, or do tae kwon do expand social opportunities.  Delving into a favorite subject such as the age of exploration allows your brain to get exercise which is just as important as exercise for your body.
  • Learning about another culture or how to speak another language opens doors in both your personal and professional life. As our world “shrinks” with globalization and the interconnectivity of the digital age, a second or third language is more important, not less.  Also, language learning develops the brain in amazing ways.
  • The self-sufficient lifestyle has gained popularity in recent years as people realize how many skills have been lost or forgotten and want to be able to do for themselves. Self-sufficiency requires knowledge and action.  While reading about gardening or woodworking is still good, both require hands on experience to master.  The practice of learned knowledge leads to deeper understanding, analysis, and ultimately new ideas and a deeper desire to learn more.  Pick up a skill when you don’t want to pick up a book.
  • Well informed citizens are better able to make good decisions, problem solve, choose representatives, and build sustainable communities. Learning about politics, government, laws, and local needs is the best way to serve your neighbors and country.

 

Are you motivated to start learning, again?  School may be out, but learning should never end.  Turn on an audiobook, crack open a novel, read the newspaper, sit down with a neighbor to knit, whatever you do, just exercise your gray matter. This is what Builds the Future. What do you want to learn today?

 

 

 

 

 

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We are all Life Long Educators

Think back to your education experience. Was there a teacher who inspired you? What were the qualities about this individual that caused inspiration? Likely, this educator’s love of learning and knowledge engaged you in ways that you had previously not been engaged and you were excited to learn more. You became a sponge for what this person was teaching. This is because our excitement sparks excitement in others. Our excitement about learning is a bridge to others’ excitement.

 

Why do our children often enjoy similar hobbies, music, books and other interests as we do? It is often because we are excited to share them. For instance, my daughter loves to watch documentaries. A large reason behind this is that when she was younger we would watch them together rather than other shows. How many 6 year-olds can identify the species of snake and inform you that it is not real because those are not “native to North America” when a prank was played? Her excitement about documentaries has continued and my son was thus engaged. Unless you want to be around for a while, please do not talk about Titanaboa. His interest, sparked by a documentary, has continued by reading everything available about this extinct apex predator.

 

In going about my daily life, I educate others and so do you. We are all Life Long Educators, because that is part of our shared human experience. We educate, we share our passions and from this we spark excitement in people around us. Who knows if the spark you ignite will be that individual’s “First Moment of Lasting Excitement”, a phrase coined by Dr. Terrence R. Redding, GLD Crew Member and President/CEO of OnLine Training Institute. I would suggest that we become purposeful about this part of ourselves.

 

Healther Wolpert-Gawron says in an Edutopia article that, “a good teacher continues to be a student.” As we teach those around us, knowingly or unknowingly, we should continue to be learning ourselves. We should encourage each other to soak up additional knowledge because it is only through each of our shared experiences that we can Build a Bridge to the Future via education.

 

Follow up… What are you most inspired to learn about today? Do you share your knowledge in an intentional way, or by happenstance? Who has inspired your educational journey?

 

Please consider inviting your inspirations to join us on Facebook and here for our Global Learn Day voyage!

 

We love to be shared!

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Questions to Ask College Students – helping them BUILD the FUTURE

“Some college, Undergraduate degree required/preferred”

If you have looked for a job within the past few years or so many will have something about a college education. But what does it mean? Why do companies place such emphasis on college education? As life long learners, we know that education, knowledge, and understanding are the foundation of our way of life. They are the foundation on which we build ourselves.

 

So what? We as a society have placed more value on the opportunity to go to college than we have spent teaching each other the benefits of education. It seems we take a check list approach to education… middle school- check high school-check college- check, masters-in progress. Are we instilling in ourselves and those around us that education matters? That college sets us up to be able to start (or continue) our life long learning process? As I see it the way American Society currently views college education, it doesn’t matter, but if we change the conversation it can matter. The next time you speak with a college student try asking these questions instead of “what’s your major?”

 

What Classes inspire you?

When you ask ‘What classes inspire you?’ you are asking a college student to think outside the textbook so to speak. This allows college students, and really all people, to open their minds and their imaginations. When people are inspired they not only learn BETTER but that inspiration can turn to passion. With passion comes the ability to move mountains with knowledge.

 

How has college changed you?

Every experience in life leaves us changed. You can’t unlearn something that you have learned. For example, when I was a young child there was a “traumatizing” episode of Sesame Street where when one of the characters left the water running, his fish friend started running out of water. At that point I learned that water is a limited resource, and I have to only use my “share”, so while brushing my teeth I HAD to make sure to turn the water off. That experience left me changed and that experience as I have gotten older has made me educate myself more on waste. College changes us too, and it is that constant change and education that allows for us to grow.

 

How do your studies affect us on a global level?

Okay, so maybe if you ask this question you might need to do some explaining, but it is actually quite interesting and loaded. We talked about how college changes us, but how do we take that and live it. This is the part that many people miss when they come out of college or even when they are still in college. How is it that you are going to use what you have learned to further the developing or even the developed world? How are you building a better future? A computer can take over any job that looks at data, or analyzes information. What a computer can’t do is allow that data to change its behavior. We need to not only be the life long learners of the world but we need to be the educators of the world too. We need to innovate and be the resources that you wish we could find. Inspire change in others, give all the knowledge that we can to those around us.

 

How do you change the world? How do you impact those around you? How do you inspire? Take your education and live it, expand on it.

Comment below with how you view a college education. And how you feel a college education fits in with today’s beliefs.

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