There is much angst out there among educators about technology “taking over” the process of teaching, moving traditional teachers out of the way and replacing them with “something new”. Deja vu. Advances in technology have engendered apprehension since time out of mind!
- Plato tells us in Phaedrus that Socrates was upset over the increasing availability of books. He was concerned that reading and writing would compromise a student’s learning by decreasing their dependance upon their own memory as a learning tool!
- Another pivotal moment in education came when textbooks were first published in the late 19th century. That technology threatened some teachers because books contained the information that they had mastered and had prepared to convey to their charges. If students could learn in a “self-teaching” format from textbooks, it would decrease the need for instructors and displace their role in the classroom!
Although these objections sound astonishing and shortsighted now, current concerns about adaptive learning technology for personalized education may seem just as absurd in the future. Good educators have always personalized learning for their students, trying out different strategies to teach their students when the standard format wasn’t working for them. Advances in education technology, including adaptive learning methodologies, can help teachers provide personalized instruction. There is widespread acknowledgment that computer-enhanced learning is very effective for some types of learning, increasing student engagement and providing the “time-on-task” that equates with deliberate practice. Adaptive learning technology promises a more efficient and effective way to improve learning outcomes for individual students.
Much has been written about the role of the teacher as “a guide on the side”. That role will never be diminished as students use adaptive learning programs, circle back to check in with the mentor, making sure that they stay on track with their efforts. Students could collect their badges of accomplishment from this beloved guide, turning around to dive in again, with their approving teacher gazing in appreciation at the tool that has helped keep them on task.