Humans are natural learners and every human learns in a different way. However, as we have discussed in previous articles (HERE) or the TED Talk (HERE), the current educational system largely views students as commodities into which knowledge is poured -- similar to an industrial manufacturing process. The fundamental structure of the current model is driven by an economic imperative from the last century based on the scarcity of the instructor and classroom, which is no longer true today.
The consequences of the current model are that the different learning paces or styles of students are lost. This is especially important in STEM fields where accumulative knowledge is required to reach the next step in the learning process. Also, the oracle model of teaching creates a largely one-way relationship between the student and teacher, which benefits neither participant. The students view the teachers as merely conveying facts, as opposed to instilling the tools to obtain the knowledge themselves. For the teacher, it tends to create delusions of grandeur, which are common in the oracle model.
How can technology address this issue?
Technology can offer on-demand access to instruction and assessment. Further, the instruction can be offered in a variety of learning styles (e.g. video, text, animation, audio, etc.) Compelling presentations can be built and improved over time so that the student does not have to depend on the teacher’s performance of the day. Assessment can be automated in such a manner that the student can engage as often as necessary. This allows for the identifying and addressing learning issues earlier and the building of mastery with higher confidence.
Where does this leave the teacher?
Focused on the student -- not the subject. The most important role for the teacher is to engage at a human level with the student. In other words, the teacher moves from the role of oracle to coach. This is a very powerful role which involves true interaction with the student and shows them how to learn. Much like teaching someone how to fish, a well-coached student can obtain any knowledge they need.