Clever thoughts on the future of education

Recent innovations in education, whether using a smart board or tablet computer, is largely people doing the same old things “just with more shiny”, says says the amazingly talented C.P.G. Grey. But the Internet can change that dynamic and really, fundamentally change the way education functions. We can envision a near future where each child has a digital Aristotle, their own personal electronic tutor.

We’re not there yet. Youtube and others reduce, to almost nothing, the cost of getting a good teacher’s materials out to an enormous audience. Individuals have access to world-class teachers and to information like never before. But it remains just a library of materials.

The next step is a digital tutor – so the student gets one-to-one attention and feedback tailored specifically to their needs. The future Grey describes is one where a digital Aristotle understands a student’s needs and delivers learning as fast and effectively as they need. It is a bright future for students.

Grey does point out that it is not such a bright future for teachers as, bluntly, far fewer will be needed and they’ll do far less. Sadly in many ways it is just this point which makes me think that Grey’s future will come to pass. Not because it will radically change the face of education for the better; not because we are sitting on the tipping point of access to powerful enough technology; no, just because governments will jump on this as a way to save money.

This isn’t science-fiction. It’s one of those moments when you see the future so clearly.

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