The Algorithmic Future of Education: The History of the Future of Education
I find the history of both computer science and education fascinating, so this keynote by Audrey Watters is particularly interesting for me because it’s on both. The most often highlighted line in the article is this one:
Education technology is, despite many of our hopes for something else, for something truly transformational, often a tool designed to meet administrative goals.
Audrey shows how educational technology has been used to mechanize our theoretical understanding of what’s the best kind of education.
Now some of these strengths of tutors may be supposition or stereotype. Nonetheless, the case for tutoring was greatly reinforced by education psychologist Benjamin Bloom who, in 1984, published his article “The Two Sigma Problem” that found that “the average student under tutoring was about 2 standard deviations above the average of the control class,” a conventional classroom with one teacher and 30 students. Tutoring is, Bloom argued, “the best learning conditions we can devise.”But here’s the challenge that Bloom identified: one-to-one tutoring is “too costly for most societies to bear on a large scale.” It might work for the elite, but one tutor for every student simply won’t work for public education. Enter the computer — and a rekindling of interesting in building “robot tutors.”
But as she points out, what we end up losing when we mechanize education is the part that is most important. The best part of a good educational experience is the most human part, which is the part which we cannot put into the computer. I recommend the whole article.