Reflecting on my time at ISTE this year, one thing stands out in my mind: Michio Kaku spoke of the future of education due to this rise of technology. He explored Moore’s law, and gave a picture of a future with robolawyers, robodoctors, and the like. He didn’t; however, claim that teachers would become roboteachers.
I call B.S. If doctors can become irrelevant, why should teachers be any different? His answer was that online classes have a low rate of fulfillment. That doesn’t negate the possibility in my eyes. Part of the problem is follow-through, and our innate ability to put off work for instant gratification. Once learning becomes downloadable, I see a true disconnect from needing a teacher. Holograms or roboteachers could easily bridge this gap. For example, as augmented and virtual reality become more advanced, game environments with holographic guides or facilitators could easily step in to guide the synthesization process.
That is just one projection of a possibility. As of this time, we can paint a million scenarios, but the future remains like a grainy picture, out-of-focus, and out of reach.
What can we do in the interim? We can admit that yesterday’s teaching methods no longer hold the attention of the students we have now! Fast paced, producer-centered activities must be facilitated without boundaries to create meaningful learning experiences for success in the unknown future. Today’s workforce needs minds with original thought. Today’s workforce craves creativity and the ability to see in ways that can’t be taught with a multiple-choice test. The answer will not be found. The questions have not been asked.
If; indeed, robots will take over most of what are now human roles, we must teach humanity. Ethical questions are a guiding light that separates man from machine.
The future; although unclear, is not to be found in the past. As long as data driven mandates promote high-stakes testing, we will experience a disconnect where students are confused as project-based learning is incorporated, and then stopped for drill and kill test preparation that harms more than helps our children.
Education cannot continue in this fragmented manner. We must be all or nothing. Unfortunately, effectiveness is still measured in 20th century terms. Until we let go, our students will continue to suffer the consequence of this disconnect.
The future is approaching: not on horseback, but via nanotechnology. Uncertain it is, but unavoidable it is not. We must do what we can now despite what may or may not be.