ESL technology is a tool – the student is human – what will be the FUTURE relationship?


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Taking a step back in time with the first invention of any tool, the man picked up the sharp stone and realised that it could be used for cutting something, and then came with it a craft, and from that craft came further inventions and also artistic pursuits. All this that we know today in our everyday life has been all put down the human relationship between the person and the tool.

Today we have technology as a tool. The question is how will that relationship between student and technology change over time and create just as the cave man with the rock, a future we have not seen yet.

Right now we can understand that learning for any student can be done online, on their phone, or through blended learning with a teacher and a student and a piece of technology, but in terms of our future, we are only in ‘caveman’ times in terms of what this will do for us.

The relationship will definitely be far more complex than today, it will be far more artistic than today and far more human than we can know. The question is how far will we be prepared to go in learning alternatively and at what cost.

I do believe that there will always be a need for a great human teacher, and in the flesh not just online, and that as we become increasingly ‘technology-ised’, the total quality human package of learning will be come incredibly expensive and niche. So for those teachers out there who think they will be out of a job, my answer is always – if a piece of technology can replace your job, then it should – meaning, you need to become indispensable in a human way in teaching to make sure you secure your place in the classroom. If you are only a technician delivering a textbook, you may be out of a job.

But this post is not about the value of a real live teacher. This post is asking the question of ‘what’s the future and how can we be ready for it’?

We know already that we have these new forms of technology emerging:

  1. 3-D printing
  2. Deep learning
  3. Virtual reality
  4. Holographic transference
  5. Convergence of the ‘internet of everything’

What I’d like to hear from you is – what you think each of these may do for the relationship between student and learning, and even better, if you know of other types of technology already used by learners and how it has transformed their relationship.


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