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How Robots Will Change the Face of Education

March 29, 2010 1 comment

If you follow some popular tech blogs you will end up reading many articles on robots; how they are progressing, who is making them and how they can be used.  Even a few minutes on youtube.com will garner hundreds of videos featuring these machines.  For decades we have had robots in factories building cars, exploring martian planets and even some just for entertaining our children. We have robots who vacuum, help during surgery, and those that are crucial in bomb disposal.

But if you are anything like myself, often when you think of robots you imagine autonomous human like machines that frequent Hollywood films or Asimo, as featured in this honda PR commercial.

Just over a month ago it was revealed that a series of Korean schools will be using robots in their classrooms.  Robots will assist with monotonous tasks such as attendance, and allow parents to communicate with their children via the robots communications systems.  Robots will even be able to read stories to the students.  I’ve heard so called experts on education refer to these robots as revolutionary.  I’ve also read blogs that suggest someday these robots could take over for a teacher completely, but I’m not so sure about that.

I really don’t believe that these Korean robots will affect our education system.  I’m even skeptical that the relatively few classrooms in Korea that  get these robots will use them beyond the first few years of implementation.  The robots that I think will change the education system are the ones I listed at the beginning of this article.  The mechanical arm that assembles cars.  The rolling saucer that vacuums the floor.  And mostly, the humanoid developed by NASA and GM.  Robots will eventually become common place in many work settings, not just on assembly lines, and will take over the most mundane tasks that are required.

Our current students won’t find many jobs pushing a broom; a future Roomba will have that job.  Less room will be available for that family owned pool cleaning business, because many people will just own their own pool guy.  This will create the workplace culture you’ve been reading about and the pedagogy that education conferences have been touting. The jobs our students will find will be in developing products, in engineering, and in business.  As our future workforce is less required to perform mundane tasks, they will be more required to possess the skills that have turned into 21st century catchphrases.  They will be creative, and logical.  Specialized, yet adaptable.  Collaborative.  Curious.  And critical.

So while robots taking over the classroom may just be a pipe dream, they certainly do and will continue to affect society.  And as society changes, so does the role and need for education.  Ultimately, as robots develop and advance our jobs as teachers will do the same.  Hopefully voters and policy makers will come to see this sooner then later, and provide us with the tools and training necessary adapt.

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Hello world!

March 24, 2010 Leave a comment

I’ve been contemplating starting a blog for over a year now. I guess my biggest hesitation was rooted in my own uncertainty of what I would write about. My training is in Secondary Education, Physics and Math. During my undergrad studies I became very interested in issues surrounding assessment and feedback. After a few years my interest shifted towards technology in the classroom. My current position is technology consultant and I am attached to a district wide literacy initiative. I have been investigating pedagogy to promote literacy in the 21st Century. In sum, you may say that my experience is diverse.

Over the past few months I have come to realize that even with a varied background such as my own I can find some consistency. In each of my endeavours and each of my varied roles I have been focused very much on student learning. This is a focus I am sure you as a reader can relate to. I did not choose to become a teacher because I loved math and science. I didn’t explore assessment for learning because I was trying to fit in with the crowd or use the catch phrases. And I certainly did not implement technology in my lessons just to say I was achieving some ICT outcome.

Everything I’ve done as an educator is driven by the belief that student learning will improve. That critical thinking and collaboration are valuable competencies developed through the medium of our curriculum. And ultimately that through educational experiences students will develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes to become effective members of society.

Contemplating Education will be a place for me to comment on issues, initiatives, theories and practices in education. Please participate with me through this blog to discuss and share ideas in my quest to synthesize the common professional knowledge and understandings of educators around the world.

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