Comment on The role of communities of practice in a digital age by Tony Bates

October 13, 2014 Tony Bates

Yes, really. I think you missed the point I am making. Basically, computers manage quite well some very low-level, time-consuming teaching activities, such as delivering content and assessing student’s comprehension or memory of facts, principles, or procedures. But this is not where teachers should be focusing. They should be focusing on developing critical thinking skills, good communication skills, creative thinking, social behaviour, ethics, evaluating qualitative student activities, etc., etc., all the things that computers are useless in doing. Thus if a teacher can be replaced by a computer, it will be because they are not doing the things that human teachers should be focusing on.
Will computers (or more likely, networks of computers) in the future be able to do these high level activities better than a human teacher? I very much doubt it – they are no way close at the moment.
I agree with you that we need to have a more general conversation about the role of people in work – all kinds – and the need fo redistribution of financial reward through the use of automation of work activities by the major high tech companies, but despite all the hype around MOOCs and AI in education, they are currently useless for developing the knowledge and skills and values needed in a modern society. We need teachers even more than ever. But let’s focus on what really matters and leave computers to do the rest.

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