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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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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