I (Cathy) recently read a blog posted on the The Huffington Post. If you are not familiar with the Huffington Post, it is an American online news aggregator and blog, that has been public for 10 years. In 2012, The Huffington Post became the first commercially run United States digital media enterprise to win a Pulitzer Prize.
I qualify the source only because I am always suspect of individuals or groups that make claims or forecasts about education, yet know little about the systems. As I consider The Huffington Post a relatively reliable and informative source, I gave the claims made by Malkin Dare, a guest blogger who was the Former President for the Society for Quality Education a second look.
In this blog, Dare proposes that all education systems are cartels (an association of manufacturers or suppliers with the purpose of maintaining prices at a high level and restricting competition) and these cartels will be disrupted by the world of technology. Dare suggests:
A software company might put together a complete online curriculum, with built-in testing and reporting, that allows students to progress at their own speed using tablet computers. Already much of this software exists, although it is not yet well organized. Another (or the same) software company might make it possible for parents to access individuals, or groups of individuals, who are willing to coach a group of other people’s children, possibly in their own homes or in a community centre, for a reasonable fee. Part of the software company’s services could be to vet the coaches and ensure they pass health and safety checks.
Dare uses Uber and Airbnb as examples of disrupters to systems and claims educational systems are next. He goes on to say:
In fact, disruption is already taking place in the post-secondary sector — see UoPeople, the world’s first non-profit, near tuition-free, accredited online university. Currently, students can earn an undergraduate degree in business administration and computer science for $4,000 US, and more programs are being added.
I am fascinated by this blog for a number of reasons. First, Dare assumes that a young adults seeking to educate themselves are comparable to young child who are learning to read and learning to socialize. I have taught children to read (and socialize) and I simply do not think a computer can do it. There is a lot more to education than just text book learning! Secondly, Dare implies in the blog that teachers are oblivious to the affordances of technology and reject it for fear it will disrupt the “cartel” in which they participate. Every teacher I know (from K to HE) incorporates (in degrees) technology into the teaching and learning in their classroom. They are also aware that students can go online and teach themselves many things. They even encourage it. The Khan Academy was designed for such learning and is largely responsible for the premise of flipped classrooms which are very popular right now in Canadian colleges. I do not think technology will disrupt the educational system. I think it will just continue to enhance both teaching and learning. Technology and education will evolve together.
Lastly, Dare is completely oblivious to the most significant aspect of education – the relationship. Countless studies have suggested a caring, attentive teacher can do more for a student than any other factor. Personally, I just can’t see technology completely replacing a good teacher, especially in the education of the young. People simply need people.