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Wait, This Is Education?

Photograph by Twenty20

The operative word in Silicon Valley is "disrupt." Educators, or at least those hoping to change the outcomes of American education, have started to like the way that sounds for schools too.

Writing in Tech Crunch, Amar Kumar outlines four signs that the U.S. is on the edge of huge, disruption-level changes in education and what they mean for kids moving through the system right now.

In Kumar's piece "How Education Will Be Smarter, Less Intrusive and Able to Respond to How You Feel," the writer claims a tide of innovation is ready and here's what it may do:

  • It will use technology to learn from learners.
  • It will use technology to adapt to how learners feel.
  • Assessments will be built in and less intrusive.
  • Classrooms will keep pace with technology.

Kumar believes these changes will give teachers the chance to "unleash" learning, since they'll be able to see how each student arrived at their answer (by basically checking their click history). In terms of delivering content, these histories will allow for algorithms to go in and "teach" content in a personalized way, similar to how what we click within Amazon presents more items we want to buy.

(Kumar doesn't concede or even acknowledge that, often, those things Amazon presents us are items we find laughable or don't want in the least. But shopping and learning are different, we hope.)

Similarly, tech will be able to tell when a student is bored or frustrated and offer up problems that engage, challenge or even simplify the tasks in order to develop the skills.

Tech has also made assessment ongoing, even invisible, so that not only can students move forward at their own pace, they aren't constantly (and arbitrarily) interrupted to take tests. This in itself is likely a win for all—learners, teachers, administration burdened with policy-makers' endless demands for accountability.

Kumar assures that even the best technology can't cut out the teacher. But we're not turning back on tech in almost every area of life. Schools aren't—or according to him, shouldn't—be left out.

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