Post Academic

Hot for Robot Teacher?

Posted in Absurdities by Caroline Roberts on February 14, 2011
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Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionOn Valentine’s Day, what could be better than a story about an unusual love … for online teaching? Randall Strauss of the NYT launched an article with a rather provocative comment: “When colleges and universities finally decide to make full use of the Internet, most professors will lose their jobs.”

Strauss goes on to list all the online course options that people can access, such as Academic Earth. Such online course offerings are amazing, and they can work well for those who are extraordinarily tech-savvy and self-motivated. Who can resist learning on a flexible schedule in which we are all taught by R2D2? Dude, break out the ring because someone is proposing to Robot Teacher!

But this romance is going to be rockier than it looks, and Strauss admits as much later in the article. I don’t think robots will take over for professors anytime soon, and not for the reasons you might think. Many anti-robot instructors argue for the importance of human connection when teaching. I’m not entirely convinced of that because I often had my biggest “ah-ha!” moments when reading books in my spare time.

So, what’s the one thing keeping robots from taking professorial jobs? Well … have you seen how most people interact with technology? Think about it. All I need to do is say one word: “Blackboard.” And pop on over to College Misery sometime. Many of their posts involve mishaps that unfold when students attempt to engage with technology.

Image of a 2-XL electronic robot toy by the Mego Corporation by PantheraLeo from Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.