Teaching the student instead of the subject, yes... that is exactly what computers enable

Posted at 11:19 am on 02/14/2018 by Rahul Razdan

Humans are natural learners and every human learns in a different way. However, as we have discussed in previous articles (HERE) or the Ted Talk (HERE), the current educational system largely views students as commodity vessels into which knowledge is poured in an industrial manufacturing process. The fundamental structure of the current model is driven by an economic imperative from the last century around the scarcity of the instructor and classroom, which is actually no longer true.

The consequences of the current model are that the different learning pace or styles of students are lost. This is especially important in STEM fields where accumulative knowledge is required to reach the next step. Also, the oracle model of teaching creates a largely one-way relationship between the student and teacher, which is good for neither. The students view the teachers as the conveyors of facts as opposed to building the tools to obtain knowledge themselves. For the teacher, it tends to create delusions of grandeur which are common in the oracle model.

How can technology address this issue?

Technology can offer on-demand access to instruction and assessment. Further, the instruction can be offered in a variety of learning styles (video, text, animation, audio, and more). Compelling presentations can be built and improved over time such that the student does not have to depend on the teacher’s performance of the day. Assessment can be automated in such a manner that the student can engage as often as necessary. This allows for the debugging of issues earlier and building of mastery with higher confidence.

Where does this leave the teacher?

Focused on the student not the subject. The most important role for the teacher is to engage at a human level with the student. In other words, the teacher moves to a role of oracle to coach. This is a very powerful role which involves true interaction with the student which shows them how to learn. Much like teaching some to fish, a well-coached student can obtain any knowledge they need.

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