Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I knew a teacher years ago who was working on developing Computer Assisted Instruction modules. He felt that eventually machines would replace teachers. Initially, he had me convinced. Then I worked through some of his modules and wasn't overly impressed. I've worked with some other products over the years and always felt they were inferior to "live" instruction. Good for drill. An additional tool for teachers. But no replacement. I have very self-righteously stated on more than one occasion that "machines can never completely replace a teacher."

I'm not so sure anymore. I haven't seen a killer program that changed my mind. But, I've been watching the steady progress in computers and programing over the past twenty years. It may not be that teachers are replaced but that education and learning change so much that they don't fill the same role anymore.

Today I read a post by Kevin Kelly on The Technium that discusses the number of professional skills that have been Turing'd . This term refers to the Turing Test, proposed by Alan Turing back in the fifties. The test involves a human judge communicating with a computer and a human. If he can't tell the difference, then the machine has passed the Turing Test. If a skill or occupation has been Turing'd, it means a machine is able to do it as well or better than a human.

Kelly's main point is that professionals that have been Turing'd are more willing to accept new technologies. Teachers as of yet, haven't been successfully Turing'd. Using his line of reasoning, this helps to explain why we educators as a whole are slow to adapt to some of these new technologies.

How long do we have before we get Turing'd?

[Image: Robot asimo: Photo en Creative Common importé sur le site Flickr par l'utilisateur xcaballe. adresse de la page :]

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