Jack Uldrich
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Unlearning Learning

Posted in Culture, Education, Games, History, Jump the Curve, Robotics, Software, Virtual reality, Web 2.0

Robotteacher_5When contemplating the future, people need to keep a very open mind about what might be possible. Consider this article which describes how researchers at UC San Diego are developing facial recognition technology that can recognize if a person is having trouble understanding an educational lesson—say in mathematics or biology.

As the technology continues to improve, one possible implication is that smart devices and robots will become better and more effective teachers because they will be able to pace lesson plans to an individual student’s ability to comprehend the information which is being presented.

Longer term, it is possible that robots and other smart devices will become more effective teachers than even human teachers because the machines will understand each student’s learning idiosyncrasies and then present material in a manner which is optimized for that individual student’s learning style.

Now, I understand how discomforting the idea that a robot might be a better teacher than your old favorite third grade teacher, Mrs. Hubbard, ever was; but, as that wise American philosopher Yoggi Berra once said, “The future ain’t what it used to be.”

For a more contemporary look at how technology is transforming education, I’d invite you to read this article which explains how Nintendo DS is helping Japanese students learn the English language, or this article which explains how video games are actually helping students learn such topics as history and world affairs.

In each case, advances in technology may result in parents, teachers and administrators having to unlearn some long-held assumptions — such as the idea that teachers are the only ones who can teach, or that video games impede students ability to learn.

P.S. For opposing view on why robots might never make good teachers, I’d invite you to read this review of a recent article which appeared in the New Yorker.


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