In part 2, let's take a look at how schools can not just maintain but increase their impact on the lives of students by "doing work that computers cannot do faster."
There are two key aspects to this idea for schools that I want to discuss.
- Identify the work that the school does (or the value provided) that cannot be provided by a computer.
- Effectively putting computers to work in schools.
An essential question that I find helpful is, "What is the human element of education and how do we maximize that part?" This is a tough question because for quite some time the human element included (to a larger degree) content expertise and knowledge. Today, things have changed largely due to computers - content is available 24/7/365 over the Internet. This fact alone has forced educators to examine what the role of a modern teacher needs to become.
I am reminded of something a professor said in my first education course:
When you feel as if you do not have as firm a grasp on the content as you want, remember that you still know more about it than the students.Sadly, that advice is no longer applicable. Good teachers, and therefore good schools, must be better at "doing the work" that computers cannot do. This work includes synthesizing various information to create options unseen by pure analysis, empathizing with students and families, and celebrate successes. This developing paradigm for schools certainly does not ignore the value of content experts or strong analytical thinkers. What is does demand is a greater emphasis on balancing these different approaches. Schools are better of having scientists teach science. I am not implying that anyone can teach anything because the content is available. What I am suggesting is that those same content minded teachers need to also provide the "human element" to their classes in an obvious way.
In other words, teachers who teach STUDENTS first rather than SUBJECT first are usually in a better position to do the work that computers cannot do.
Effectively putting computers to work in schools
Currently, I believe that technology's place in education is basically a tool that helps students and teachers with a list of "...tions" which I suggest are key components to the essential process of learning in the modern world.
Computers are great tools for enhancing the educational experience. The availability of information, ease of communication, ability to make connections, and speed of analysis are unmatched. Schools that have relied on being the keepers of secret knowledge are finding (or have probably already found) that role is no longer sufficient.
Providing an educational experience that is also focused on the work computers cannot do, the human element, is more important today than ever before. Employing computers to work for us to support motivation, collaboration, communication, production, investigation, and information is a key piece to your school remaining relevant in a technology enhanced world.