Computers will revolutionize education?
06 Aug 2008

Computers will revolutionize education?

Dick Pelletier wrote a fun piece on

06 Aug 2008


Dick Pelletier wrote a fun piece on the near future of education, built from computer-based technologies most people are already familiar with.  He writes:

These sophisticated new computers will understand ordinary everyday spoken words in English, Spanish, Chinese, or any major language, and will use avatars – on-screen images that could appear as Einstein, Columbus, or even a local classroom teacher – to communicate on a personal level with each student.

The place for these computers, he writes, is in schools –which I believe is a dangerous assumption about the future.  I mentioned this before, but perhaps I should put out the question again:  Does the future need schools? Also, we need to consider, given the large number of computers in schools already, why hasn’t there been a revolution in education, yet?

That said, the piece is actually good.  So, please read it at Future Blogger, and post your thoughts there.

Leave a comment
More Posts
Comments
  1. Toby August 6th, 2008 9:02AM

    “Does the future need schools?” – No.

    Does the future need computers? – No.

    🙂

  2. C. Tschofen August 6th, 2008 12:10PM

    One theme I keep hearing in floating the “we won’t/don’t need schools” proposition is the fear, among many others, of unleashing or not addressing what people see as the otherwise (arguably) contained social ills our current educational settings are called upon to “solve.” It’s easy to get impatient with the “babysitting” function of schools in light of all the current and future potential for meaningful education, but I have to wonder if the education futures discussion has to have a more concrete response to these concerns in order to realize its full, leapfroggy potential… and I sure don’t have one. And I’m not the first to posit that the reason computers in schools haven’t caused an education revolution is that a.) they’re in schools 🙂 and b.) computers do not equal education– they’re tools/elements in a system, albeit potentially revolutionarily enabling tools/elements. Entrenched/unexamined worldviews on the process, goals and even definition of education, with or without technology, seem to be more the issue.

  3. John Moravec August 6th, 2008 12:33PM

    I agree with Carmen on why computers haven’t worked in education. I feel that the problem is that little consideration has been given to the purposive use of computers in education. In fact, perhaps we should forget about “education” altogether, and refocus on using technologies for human capital development. With this change of focus, what new purposes might computing technologies serve?

  4. C. Tschofen August 6th, 2008 12:10PM

    One theme I keep hearing in floating the “we won’t/don’t need schools” proposition is the fear, among many others, of unleashing or not addressing what people see as the otherwise (arguably) contained social ills our current educational settings are called upon to “solve.” It’s easy to get impatient with the “babysitting” function of schools in light of all the current and future potential for meaningful education, but I have to wonder if the education futures discussion has to have a more concrete response to these concerns in order to realize its full, leapfroggy potential… and I sure don’t have one. And I’m not the first to posit that the reason computers in schools haven’t caused an education revolution is that a.) they’re in schools 🙂 and b.) computers do not equal education– they’re tools/elements in a system, albeit potentially revolutionarily enabling tools/elements. Entrenched/unexamined worldviews on the process, goals and even definition of education, with or without technology, seem to be more the issue.

  5. John Moravec August 6th, 2008 12:33PM

    I agree with Carmen on why computers haven’t worked in education. I feel that the problem is that little consideration has been given to the purposive use of computers in education. In fact, perhaps we should forget about “education” altogether, and refocus on using technologies for human capital development. With this change of focus, what new purposes might computing technologies serve?

  6. Brynja Gudjonsson August 6th, 2008 1:27PM

    I have frequently interacted with teachers in schools and found that their personal technological knowledge is limited, so how can the computer be a tool when the classroom leader cannot operate the tool? Teachers have talked about how they limit the use of internet as a research tool and I have yet to encounter a highschool teacher that teaches the students how to use Write and Excel programs or how to distinguish a good internet source from a bad one. Teachers often lament the fact that Word keeps the students from learning how to spell words, yet I have learned how to spell words more accurately because of the spell check.
    The fault does not lie with the technology, since as is mentioned above technology is a tool, but with the inability of schools and education to keep up with the time. Really who can fault teachers who spend endless hours reporting on student progress, to administrations, to parents and students, who can now access their scores, grades and whatnot from their phones if they like. Where do teachers find the time to learn about and implement technology in the classroom.
    Even at the higher ed level, where I provide ed tech support I spend hours convincing people that technology can be useful, not too much work and beneficial to their teaching.
    Another thought is that students most likely know a great deal more about computers, internet and other technology tools than the teacher, so who would want to put him or herself in a position of the learner when faced with a room full of children or teens.

    I agree with the babysitting notion and wonder how much worse it will get before it gets better for students and teachers?

  7. Brynja Gudjonsson August 6th, 2008 1:29PM

    P.S. Love the pic of the Commodores.

  8. C. Tschofen August 9th, 2008 10:31AM

    I’ve seen what Brynja’s seen, and that raises questions about the definition of “teaching,” which is often a teacher-centric, rather than student-centric activity, in spite of desires and rhetoric to the contrary. The role of teachers as information delivery systems is really ingrained, and even those trying to overcome this get whacked down with the “accountablilty” and “standards” rhetoric.

    The idea that students know more than teachers about technology– yes and no. The critical use and assessment of technology resources and connectivist processes are still pretty nebulous skills for most folks.

    In terms of embedded worldview, there’s a parallel/convergent mood on Clay Burell’s site:

    “I feel a pull to pull back from the tools, and gravitate more toward meaning … I’m really much more interested in thinking critically about cultural factors that retard education than I am about tools that, used retardedly, enable us to learn conventional unwisdoms more efficiently. In other words, I want to fight the idols of the mind that we worship instead of question.”

    And as to human capital development… haven’t had enough coffee yet 🙂 But there’s something mulling about how the techno-centric driver for this question means that I can’t quite embrace it without at least some humanistic boilerplate. 🙂

  9. John Moravec August 12th, 2008 11:24AM

    Who says technology can’t be humanistic?

Comment