This Will Revolutionize Education

this-will-revolutionize-educationThis Will Revolutionize Education 

by TeachThought Staff

“The job of a teacher is not to deliver information. It is to guide the social process of learning. The job of a teacher is to inspire, to challenge, to excite their students to want to learn.”

To those at the forefront of progressive education–really, most teachers we’d think–this isn’t a new idea. But it’s starting to spread, evidenced by a recent video from science video blog and YouTube channel Veratasium.

The video (bravely?) takes on the big, stubborn field of education, specifically the sticky topic of ed reform. They were curious why, in lieu of better and better technology that continues to impact other fields, there is little improve in education. They didn’t think it was the inertia of the industry itself; not too little edtech, nor poverty, nor standards or standardized testing.

thomas-edison-motion-picture-revolutionize-educationThe Motion Picture, The CD, Tablets, MOOCS

Their conclusion?

Our focus is wrong.

While technology is useful, it’s only useful insofar as it promotes engagement with clear learning goals within a well-designed process. Animations, they explain, can be powerful, but aren’t inherently so. They’re only “better” than a static image or a conversation if their weaknesses (e.g., lack of text, inability to slow or stop the animation, unclear learning goals, etc.) are mitigated.

Their line of thinking is that education continues to focus on the wrong things–things outside of the learner’s heads rather than within them. We focus on replacing teachers instead of celebrating them, or training them for new roles. The result is redundancy, inefficiency, and mediocre performance.

“I think it is instructive that each new technology has appeared to be so transformative. You can imagine, for example, that motion pictures must have seemed like a revolutionary learning technology. After all they did revolutionize entertainment, yet failed to make significant inroads into the classroom. TV and video seem like a cheaper, scaled back film, but they too failed to live up to expectations. Now there is a glut of information and video on the internet so should we expect it to revolutionize education?

My view is that it won’t, for two reasons: 1. Technology is not inherently superior, animations over static graphics, videoed presentations over live lectures etc. and 2. Learning is inherently a social activity, motivated and encouraged by interactions with others.”

So what will actually, finally, without a doubt “revolutionize education”? They never really come to a single conclusion, which seems to be the point. There isn’t a single thing, technology or otherwise. Engaged students in a social setting under the care of an inspiring teacher seems to be their ultimate response.

You can see the video below.

9 Comments

  • Exactly! Education will never be transformed with a magic bullet approach. Education is an effort that involves learners and teachers, mentorees and mentors. It always has and it always will. Any type of technology is only a tool.

  • No, the technology itself will not revolutionize education. The tools we have today, different than the one way nature of the motion picture or TV, can help to engage the learner. “Learning is inherently a social activity, motivated and encouraged by interactions with others.” These interactions can happen without technology, among the students within the classroom, but many of today’s technologies make it easier to do this as well as to do it with students who are not necessarily in the same room or even in the same country. The ability of the students to be more responsible for their own learning and being able to answer their own questions is what makes technology today a valuable addition to the classroom. It’s all about access to information with an inspired teacher there to facilitate the question and answer process, the navigation and the connection making.

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