The Way of the Future: The Guide on the Side?

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Over at VoxEU, Lisa Barrow, Elizabeth Debraggio and Cecilia  Rouse present a random assignment study showing that computer aided math instruction led to significantly higher scores for participating students.

We need more research on this, but it seems to back the notion that the schools of tomorrow may look very different from those of today. I’ll wager that mixed models of technology delivered instruction, where a smaller number of highly skilled teachers serve as “guides on the side” rather than a “sage on the stage” ultimately becomes more prevalent.

Of course, that’s only a guess, but ultimately greater experimentation with different delivery methods will point new ways forward.

5 Responses to The Way of the Future: The Guide on the Side?

  1. pm says:

    An alternate photo (not from me)

    Arthur C. Clarke

  2. In the currennt teacher market, given union acceptance of pay differentials for shortage areas, schools would pay Math, Chemistry, Physics, and Electronics Shop teachers more than they pay History, English, and Biology teachers. The market for post-elementary teachers would collapse across the board if legislators required that schools grant credit by exam. Between the current institutional environment and the environment which universal credit by exam would create, instructional technology would have the largest impact on the demand for teachers in the shortage areas (Math and Physics). If you abandon the idea that students in History and English write essays and that teachers grade essays, ithe instructional technology which would reduce the demand for teachers in these areas already exists. Ken Burns is probably the most effective teacher of US History who ever lived.

  3. pm says:

    When my first son started school my wife and I decided to send him to a private pre-kindergarten school. This was really expensive ~$6000/year. At the end of the program he was still struggling with his ABC’s, which made us very disappointed. So my wife and I took matters into our own hands and he learned them in about 1 month. Knowing better, for our second son we bought a copy of Leap Frong’s Letter Factory DVD for $7. We played this every morning at breakfast. After a few showings he was asking us to watch it at other times during the day. At the end of the month he knew his ABC’s. He was just shy of 4 years old at the time. So at least for content that was a 1000 to 1 cost advantage. Of course the pre-k program did have the value of providing day care, but since there were better alternatives at a cheaper price for day care we took advantage of those for our second son.

  4. dcowart says:

    Technology has to play a bigger role in instruction. Math is the perfect content area for this because of the immediate feedback of whether something is right or wrong. Teachers can guide their students through a number of activities. My fear is that students would lose out on the social interaction, team building and cooperative learning that comes in the dynamic of classroom instruction. Students need to know how to work with others and to communicate their ideas. I think a computer is a great tool and I wish we used them better, but I think their is a lot to be said for good instructional practices.

  5. pm says:

    In the terms of Mortimer Adler, I’d say that technology is very well suited to didactic instruction, but is wanting when it comes to coaching and seminar instruction.

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