This is the end?

The conference “Shaping the Future 4” organized by our colleagues from Mindcet in Tel Aviv provided stimulating thoughts on the future of education.

Could we envisage the future of education without teachers? Rose Luckin raised the conflictive issue of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in education. Will AI eventually substitute teachers? Is this the end of education?

Her latest publication ”Intelligence Unleashed” cowritten with Wayne Holmes identifies instead several scenarios under which teachers’ expertise will be strengthened thanks to AI. In a nutshell, AI should help “developing teacher expertise, addressing teacher retention, and providing respite where teacher shortages are acute”. Even more importantly, AI should help understand the learners better.

Rose and Wayne address a crucial topic: teachers’ time. Time shortage comes always as the first item to explain teachers’ resistance to change. AI could help overcome time shortage by for instance reducing time needed for grading or time needed to identify the adequate learning resources. More time should enable teachers to teach better, pay more individual attention to learners. AI could help freeing up teachers from daily bureaucratic constraints to help them concentrate on teaching. When writing this piece, I realize how absurd it may seem to think of teachers doing anything else than teaching… But this is the reality!

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Freeing up the teachers is only part of the debate on innovation in education. Turning education into a continuous conversation is even more challenging.

David Weinberger insists on the growing role of knowledge networks. In a recent MOOC he reminded us of the importance of conversation as an innovative learning model. The network model enables learner to engage fruitfully in network conversation, instead for instance of learning together as part of a collaborative model. As networks question the meaning of knowledge, learners are challenged to acquire new skills of problem solving and critical thinking.

Learning will therefore experiment a drastic change departing the private sphere towards the public one and resulting in a gigantic network where we are all learners and teachers.

Opening up the classroom will mean for all teachers and students joining public conversations that will ultimately make everyone smarter.

Is this the end of education or a new beginning?

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