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Technology has already started replacing teachers

Posted on: July 15, 2015

There is an unfounded fear that technology will replace teachers. I emphasize “will replace” as the pointless fear because the process has already begun.

I do not mean replacements like the examples STonline gave recently as the “future” of education.

“Interactive” white elephant boards, digital natives, and mannequin-like robots are more like fantasy fiction when you consider the reality of education now.

So-called interactive white boards and substitutive robots reek of the past instead of the future. Digital natives do not exist except in the minds of those who choose to divide and create fear. The future does not lie in vendors’ lies, pop culture fantasy, or misguided research.

The current landscape paints a more plausible future of education and perhaps schooling.

There are already large fountains of information like YouTube and Wikipedia. There are just-in-time (JIT) and just-for-me (JFM) learning opportunities thanks to Google and personal learning networks (PLNs).

Soon we might not need teachers to deliver content; they will need to curate it. After that we might not need human curation as artificial intelligence learns to provide personalized learning JIT and JFM.

Students can already take advantage auto-correcting and grading services for their written work or they can rely on the crowd to rate and/or critique other digital artefacts in DeviantArt, Edmodo, Google Apps, Instagram, SoundCloud, WordPress, YouTube, etc. They can also have their paths prescribed by analytics systems like the one in Khan Academy.

Soon we might relieve teachers of the drudgery of grading so that they might rise above, see patterns, and provide diagnostics instead.

These technological breakthroughs have happened and will happen in a few areas: The delivery of content, the processing of context, and the deciphering of nuance. The first of these areas is almost overrun by technology as fed by people. The second is now the playground of AI. The third is still a largely human domain.

These advances are not threats to teachers. These are opportunities for better efficiency and effectiveness in educating our children. They are only threats to teachers who do not wish to change; they are opportunities for those that unlearn and relearn.

Technology has already started replacing teachers. What are you doing about it?

3 Responses to "Technology has already started replacing teachers"

I agree, Ashley. Advances in technology are opportunities for teachers rather than threats, as I believe technology will never replace teachers, but rather will change their roles.

I believe this because regardless of our progress in AI and social and everything else, there will always be a place for expert (human) guidance.

That robot in China that you feature is an obvious example. While she can deliver information and repeat it upon request, she can’t discuss the topic – let alone explore its intricacies.

Crowd critiquing, however, is a less obvious example. While it sounds like a plausible idea on the surface, it can become a case of the blind leading the blind. I’ve witnessed this first hand in a couple of MOOCs that I’ve tried.

So while the teacher may no longer be the sage on the stage, he or she shouldn’t disappear, as they have much to offer in terms of facilitating learning.


Hey Ryan, nice to hear from you again!

The crowd method I had in mind was based on Surowiecki’s Wisdom of Crowds which I read some years back. There were at least four conditions ( that led to cleverness or wisdom instead of madness or blindness. Some might see overlaps with rhizomic and other emergent forms of technology-mediated learning.

Whatever the case, I see the role of technology in this socio-technical phenomenon growing in such importance that a near replacement almost seems inevitable.

But you are right. There is a place for us. Just as we invent technologies that change us, we reinvent ourselves. Some refuse the change, some go kicking and screaming, some jump with eyes wide open.

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