Why does everyone want to replace teachers?

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I just returned from a major educational technology entrepreneur’s conference at Arizona State University.  Three thousand people attended from a variety of new and existing educational companies.  I saw some amazing things and met some great people.

One thing that really struck me, though, was that many of these companies are building solutions that are really about replacing teachers.  They have a vision that technology lets schools put students in front of screens as a fundamental teaching method. 

In 1954, noted psychologist B.F. Skinner developed the “Teaching Machine,” the ancestor of much of today’s similar technology.  Skinner pioneered the theory of Operant Conditioning and believed that behaviors could be carefully studied in a “Skinner Box,” a closed system in which a laboratory animal received a reward for certain behaviors.  He applied this approach to his teaching machine and created the idea of programmed learning.

At Activate Learning, we believe in an approach that instead maintains the teacher’s key role, leading to deeper and richer learning experiences for students.  Our curricula help teachers create an exciting and stimulating classroom.  Our tagline is: Engaged Students, Passionate Teachers.  We build products that make this a reality.

The Interactive Digital Edition of IQWST, is a great example of this.  Students have all of IQWST’s deep learning resources available to them, but the system is designed to empower them within a classroom culture that is interesting and motivating.  The students read on digital devices, but their responses are instantly available to their teacher.  The teacher can send comments, feedback and encouragement in real time to individual students.  The digital device never replaces the teacher; it is a tool that both teacher and students use to learn science.

At Activate Learning, we are proud to focus on teachers and how they can involve kids in rich discussions and motivate them through hands-on learning.  Although the technology that I saw at the conference can do amazing things, I don’t think anything is as remarkable as engaged students and passionate teachers working together in a classroom.

Eric Johnson, CEO