There is no doubt that computers and technology play a large role in today’s educational landscape. One cannot enter a classroom these days without seeing various forms of tech being used. From laptops, to tablets, to smartphones, these devices are used daily in classrooms across the country in all subject areas.
But that often begs the question of whether or not computers can completely replace teachers? This is a question that many, especially those in the education and technology fields, ponder when it comes to the future of our modern world. We are going to examine the pros and cons of replacing teachers with computers and what it may look like in the future moving forward.
There are definitely some Pros when it comes to the concept of using computers to replace traditional teachers. While it isn’t clear of this is a completely viable option, there is some room for experimentation when it comes to this concept.
The idea of a Flipped Classroom has emerged in recent years as a way to change the traditional classroom setting. Using this structure, students receive information and practice skills in a way that is much different that the traditional setting. In a Flipped Classroom, students review lecture material before coming to class, usually via computer or another device, and then when they are in class, they have the chance to practice new skills, usually with the assistance of the teacher, if need be.
Now it is important to note that the teacher still has a presence and purpose within the classroom, even though technology is being used. However, one could argue that the teacher could be replaced with a dedicated Help page on whatever platform the students are using, eliminating the need for a physical teacher if the course were to be held online only.
Another positive to the idea of teachers being replaced by computers is that technology and online resources can provide students with instant help and feedback. In the traditional method, students struggling with a math problem, for example, would need to wait until the next school day to ask the teacher for help, whereas with an online classroom, they could get help quickly with the usage of technology. This would make the learning process more streamlined and a faster overall process.
There are platforms such as Class Messenger that allow this type of communication to occur safely between students, teachers, and parents. So this could be an option for not replacing teachers, but using technology effectively as a tool for communication.
Listed above are a few of the Pros when it comes to replacing teachers with computers and other technology, but of course like with most topics, there are some Cons as well.
One major con of replacing teachers with computers or robots is the loss of the ability to build relationships that will promote and enhance learning.
There are studies that show how children learn better from someone that they both like and trust, and this type of close-knit relationship just isn’t possible with a student and their computer. According to Lindsay (2011) “A computer cannot develop personal distinction between students. It cannot develop creative or innovative ideas for teaching materials in the new way.”
What this means is that computers cannot tell one student from another, as it sees them all the same in terms of their personalities. Whereas a teacher can get to know their students and tailor assignments and activities to their skill level and their personal interests. This makes a strong case for opting not to replace teachers with computers.
One aspect that of course must be mentioned, is the cost of replacing teachers with computers or even robots. Many school districts across the country are struggling with their budgets, and many cannot afford basic items for their students and classrooms. If that is the case, it is not likely that they will be able to provide the expensive technology that would be able to replace teachers. If schools are having issues with paying their staff and teachers, it is same to assume that they would not have the funds to buy enough computers or robots for the entire school to use.
Besides the cost itself, the school must have the infrastructure to support online learning. This means that the fastest internet and WiFi networks must be used in order to ensure that the whole school can be online at all times and ready to learn. This can be quite an expensive endeavor, especially for schools that don’t have wiFi and are starting from zero.
It is clear that the question of whether or not teachers can be replaced by computers is one that is challenging to answer due to the complex nature of what is involved. There are, as expected, both pros and cons to both sides of the issue, depending on the way that you look at it. On the one hand, flipped classrooms and instant help can for sure assist students in the learning process. But on the other hand, the impersonalized learning and high cost of technology can make it less effective for most schools across the country. This is clearly a topic that has many experts and educators divided.