Have we seen the emerging "teacher-killer" app?

in Microsoft’s “Project Natal“?

Yesterday, I suggested to my students (and Facebook friends) that just as the first phonographs suggested the end of the dance-hall band, the first ATM machines betokened the end of bank buildings, the first “self-service” gas stations suggested the end of the “service station attendant” career, and the first telephones the end of telegraphy’s popularity, so applications based on the interactive “Natal” technology suggest the end of the teacher as necessary fundament to high-quality public education.

Some of my Facebook friends thought that question was over-dramatic. My friend Glenda said, “This is a tool, not a replacement for anything. I think your job is safe, Drew,” which I appreciate, but I’m not seeing total teacher-elimination from this. We can still find full-service stations (and only these in New Jersey), dance-hall bands, and telegraphers today, but the numbers are drastically reduced to their historical prime. My point was that if only half of the direct instruction that goes on in schools were substituted for by interactive, “artificially intelligent” programs such as Natal, the public would realize a huge cost savings. Just think of the money no more costly health insurance benefits or six-digit salaries would make possible.

Some of my students saw that, yes, Natal-based programs could be beneficial to them and their younger siblings and prospective children. There is indeed no reason that an individual student’s skill level can not be personally addressed in a school through such as program. If you could get the course credit in three months instead of nine, why not do so and learn more besides? Some of them had personal anecdotes of siblings in college or parents who were “re-educating themselves” via web-based learning modalities. They averred that yes, more conveniently and consistently than humans, a good teaching program could:
  • recognize and adapt to the particular strengths and weaknesses of the learner–meaning rigor and pace would be customized to each student
  • draw from a research-based set of interventions that would implement curriculum in a way that was truly “teacher-proofed”
  • be available 24/7 for a student to learn with
On the other hand, some students brought up the spector of a Fahrenheit 451 world, in which everyone stays indoors coming from the Natal ed apps, or a Terminator world, in which the machines begin punishing and otherwise mis-educating the huans who co

me to rely on the Natal based machines. In other words, yes, this could be the start of something new, but it would not ultimately help mankind.

More than one student was actually worried about the many jobs that Natal based ed apps would cost our economy. What to do with all those unemployed teachers? Though I assured them that I could always make a living being a rock superstar or janitor, and although another student reminded her classmates of the all-powerful teachers unions, which would certainly quash the nascent Natal technology, their concern persisted.

They ended the discussion by-and-large apprehensive for the way that Natal ed apps could disrupt the educational landscape with which they were familiar.

Considering the economic AND educational benefits of such programs, their teacher remains hopeful that they can be brought online in American public schools, although not so swiftly that excessive amounts of educators cannot be sufficiently re-trained for useful work in our economy.

image courtesy of blueraymedia

2 responses to “Have we seen the emerging "teacher-killer" app?”

  1. I like this blog and now you share very useful detail with us I am very excited about this one it is really nice r4i firmware


  2. Σας ευχαριστώ, Nevin. Δεν έχω ακούσει από έναν άνδρα από την “κλασική” γη πριν από εσάς. Ίσως μπορείτε να μιλήσετε με ελληνική συμπατριώτες σας. Ίσως μπορούμε να κάνουμε μια συνεργασία για τους φοιτητές; “Andrewps. “follow” this blog, if you like it!


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