Robots Are Coming, but Humans (Still) Need Humans to Learn

Posted by on 19/07/2017

Education technology is amazing. Adaptive online assessments have become smart enough to pinpoint a child’s missing skills more quickly and precisely than a human.  As Artificial Intelligence advances, robots are predicted to recognize voice and even be able to teach children to read, learn a new language or identify learning disabilities.  So who needs a human teacher anymore?

At TwigaTutors we believe humans + education technology are the best formula for a student’s success. We see new online learning programs being developed and released each month.  Excellent personalized lessons and practice can be accessed with Khan Academy (Free) and inexpensive companies like IXL, Reading Eggs, and many more. But technology alone won’t cut it, here are two reasons why:

  1. Motivation – while online programs allow kids to earn points and game time along the way, there is nothing like having a human hold you up to task.  Think of a personal trainer.  Everyone can attest to the benefits of exercise, we can get a work out plan online, but still, having someone hold us accountable to our goals makes us more motivated to achieve them. If you’re cheating on those push ups, your human trainer will let you know but the instructor in the youtube video won’t.

We see this with our students.  If kids are clicking through the answers without reading the questions, they are more likely to focus again when they realize a human teacher is checking the assignments and holding them accountable.  Some (few) of us have tremendous self-discipline, but most of us need support and encouragement to stay focused. And someone (human) to revel in our accomplishments with us 🙂

2. Problem Solving – What do online software programs do when a child is stuck? Usually they replay the lesson and reassign the practice problems. But what happens when the student still doesn’t understand the concept after repeating the lesson over and over again?  A great tutor is able to look at the area the child is struggling with and provide new strategies or ways of thinking about the problem to help the student become comfortable with the material and come up with solutions. We know children learn in different ways and may, for example, need an activity outside, away from the computer or explore a new resource to have their ‘ah-ha’ moment. Good teachers also know when to assign a lesson that will build a foundation skill before reintroducing the troubling topic. For example, another look at place value before trying double-digit addition again.  At TwigaTutors our teachers also create tailored ‘Projects‘ so kids can do experiments, research and other fun, interactive activities to get kids to learn the material in new ways.  Education technology is getting smarter, but human tutors are still better at providing support that is based on the learning needs of the student.

Don’t get us wrong, technology is not all bad. When used effectively it is a very helpful tool for both the student and the teacher. For example, we use MobyMax to pinpoint each child’s missing skills making our tutoring more personalized, so kids don’t waste time practicing skills they already know.  Technology platforms also reduce the tutor’s ‘busywork’ associated with correcting assignments, writing reports to parents and organizing student data, so tutors spend more time on the important stuff: student Motivation and Problem Solving (above).  This also makes our model more affordable because we do more in less time.

What do you think of our model? What blended ways of teaching and learning have you found effective?

 

 

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