I’ve been working through a presentation I gave at university called ‘Are we robot-proof?’ Within this presentation, I based my reflections on a few academic texts but mainly “Robot-Proof: Higher Education in the age of artificial intelligence” by Aoun 2017.
In the previous blog posts, I have discussed the current situation with respect to technology and learning and how change is important and can be embraced.
Having established that new learning is required to embrace the future, the question remains what will this look like?
What will this new learning look like?
Although we are unsure about what the future will actually look like, it is assumed that it will be technologically rich. Authors such as Selwyn (2017) do elude to what education might include with respect to technology but include a caveat that environmental disasters could possibly prevent us from actually reaching it.
As we look towards the future we have the same options as we have when looking at change which have been discussed already in this series of blog posts. Hide away from it, and hope it passes, complain bitterly about it with an air of nostalgia or embrace it recognising it as a series of possibilities and innovations. I’m not sure where you are with this decision, but I am looking for the possibilities.
Since it is accepted that we will not be able to compete with technology, the solution for the future is to leave the aspects of learning which technology can do well to the robots and focus our attention to the creative, problem solving and mental flexibility of what Aoun names ‘Humanics’
More than just the transmission of knowledge
Learning should be changing. I say should, because I doubt that it is across all institutions of learning. We don’t want learners to be hoarders of knowledge, we want them to creators of new knowledge and, in order to achieve this they need certain skills. The days of the expert being at the front of the class utilising a didactic approach to share what they know and what their learners to know should be a thing of the past. We want learners to challenge existing concepts, ponder over new solutions and really become curious and critical about everything that they hear or see.
These skills actual put us in a different arena of learning than the robots and should be skills that we want to actively encourage and promote. So how do we support the development of these skills?
What I am about to type here is nothing new. Project-based learning forms the important foundation for all learning. Being presented with a problem or issue which needs to be addressed, enables learners to acknowledge purpose and meaning. Solving problems links learning with the real world and allows learners to work collaboratively towards a joint aim/product. This moves away from the ringed fence approach of tutors dictating what will be taught and what has importance to a paddock when it is the responsibility of the academic to argue the importance of the theory or viewpoint, to have it challenged and if it happens through the debate, concede and adjust their own views and schemas.
Although many us like and feel safe and secure within the existing disciplines, it is important that these boundaries are removed and learning allowed to seep or gush between existing silos. In my own research, I often find that I start of firmly placed within technology but then drift across to psychology only to return back to technology via the diverted route through research methodology and often philosophy. Learning should not be established and kept within strict boundaries. It should be allowed to be fluid and take the learner through and across a range of disciplines. Only by doing this are connections seen and understood.
A long way to go...
I never write these blogs to be confrontational. I use them as a form of self reflection in order to clarify my thoughts and understanding. Academia is a very noble structure which many see as a building with smooth and often difficult to climb outer walls. But sometimes it is that noble building itself, with its lofty heights, which makes it difficult to see the changes that are happening or should be happening at its base. The ground which used to surround the towers are changing and with them the concept of learning. If we are not careful, then that change itself could cause some buildings to topple quite dramatically.
In order to finish this series of blog posts it is important that we return to the initial questions which started both these posts and my initial presentation at university. Are we robot-proof?
The answer for me is not at the moment, but we could be. In stead of competing with technology in a large scale fray which are bound to lose, I propose that we give ground and pride and work alongside technology rather than against it. Move away for the rigid approach which we have placed on learning to a more fluid approach which puts the learner and the development of skills firmly at the tiller. And, with a re-emphasis of the purpose of learning and a re-focus on what needs to be experienced, it would be possible that we can and will be robot proof flourish in a learning environment which is shared with technology rather than being opposed by it.
As always, if you have any comments or thoughts about what you have read in these posts then please do take the plunge and share them in the comments below. It is always beneficial to engage with different points of views and that is another reason why I blog and put by thoughts out there.