Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Teach to One: Technology that Kills Learning Relationships

Teach to One Math is an exciting idea. What if computers could help students get a truly personalized learning experience? Their supporters include an amazing list of educational organizations for which I have great admiration and respect, including Gates, Chan Zuckerberg, New Profit, and Oak.

Slate published an interesting article a few years ago Automated Learning: What happens when computers, not teachers, pick what students learn?

Last year Open Culture published Trainwreck: The Teach to One Math Experiment in Mountain View, CA Is a Cautionary Tale About the Perils of Digital Math Education and more people took notice of the downside of Teach to One.

Around the time the Trainwreck article came out, I spoke with a teacher from a Teach to One school, and her comment was that she felt...
"... cut out of the process and overwhelmed at the same time."
I'm sure that computer-driven adaptivity has its place, but when those algorithms get in the way of effective teacher-student relationships, we have a problem. Teachers matter. Collaboration matters. Learning relationships matter. When technology hinders these relationships, its place needs to be re-thought.

Personalized learning can be great, and when done well can strengthen learning relationships. When technology is placed at the center at the expense of good educational practices, the role of technology needs to be re-thought.

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