Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The future of schooling? Holograms, robots and “the algorithm” …

There’s not much of a future in making predictions. According to Greek mythology the prophetess Cassandra was cursed by Apollo so that no-one would believe her predictions - despite their unfailing accuracy. For mere mortals without her gift of foresight making predictions is a haphazard business indeed. Hence, I am not making a prediction; I am merely speculating on some apparently unrelated snippets from the recent web.

Item one. A crowd of concert goers in Japan attend a live performance by Miku Hatsune. So?
Miku Hatsune doesn’t exist - “she” is actually a hologram, although her backing band is real and performing on stage. People are going to a concert to see an artist that does not exist perform “live” in front of them. Judging from the concert footage they seem to be enjoying it.

Item two. A South Korean school is trialling the use of a robot teacher aide to teach students English. The article claims that the cost is one half the cost of employing a real life teacher.

Item 3. In America a boy with a severe illness now attends school via robot. This gives him some much needed “social” interaction as well as access to an education.

Item 4. In New York the “School of One” has significantly redesigned education - largely by using technology to take over the planning of student work. “The algorithm”, aka a computer, assesses student performance each day, discerns the extent of their progress and then creates a unique learning program for the following day - complete with access to off-site subject expert tutors and computer assisted learning. This video of the principal of the school, Dominick D’Angelo, giving a speech includes interview footage with teachers and students from the school.

It is undeniably fascinating material.

My question is simply - what happens if (when?) these items combine?

What might a school of the future look like once these technologies become commonplace?

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