Covid has led a number of school districts and states to move to an on-line “virtual learning” environment. In this model the students do NOT go to school physically. Instead they stay at home and use a computer and internet access to be a member of a “virtual classroom”. Teachers can see the students and the students can see the teacher. Lessons and tests are done on-line. Depending on the school district, students may attend daily or several times a week for period ranging up to 2-3 hours. This starts to mimic other on-line learning sources that have been in place for a number of years (We have shared two articles you may want to review: https://swweducation.org?p=6453 and https://swweducation.org?p=6495 and https://swweducation.org?p=6512 )
You may find one of our earlier articles about robot teachers interesting: https://swweducation.org?p=3149
Given that public schools have joined the on-line trend what makes one any better than another? Why should taxes ONLY go to public schools and not to other learning platforms? Why can’t parents choose which learning option to use for their child? Lots and lots of questions which we can’t answer today. However…we would like to hypothesize the next step in the evolution of education…The Virtual Teacher. Join us in exploring this future.
Let’s pull out our crystal ball and see what the future of education may look like…
- Students do best when the ratio of teacher to student is lower rather than higher. The optimum ratio being 1:1 (1 student to 1 teacher). Challenge? Too expensive. Too little room in schools.
- Students do best when the curriculum and materials are custom tailored to their personal needs. Having the materials delivered at the right speed and with approaches that appeal to the specific students learning style (verbal? visual? tactile?) improves the learning and retention and understanding. Since students learn at different paces being able to move at the right pace enhances learning.
- Students respond to personal attention.
What do we see?
- Parents go to a website. On that website they register their child and complete a questionnaire:
- Sex; Age; Nationality; Religious preference and similar information useful in defining who the student is
- Parents cite any specific requirements; areas of study and goals
- Students login and complete a set of tests to establish a base learning/knowledge base
- Based on the information and testing a “Virtual Teacher” is created for the student. This teacher will embody the values and characteristics best suited to that student. This “virtual teacher” will be the most receptive and designed to connect with the student. This includes any racial, religious and other features. The voice of the virtual teacher will use any language(s) appropriate including tonal; male/female and other vocal features to ensure student comfort.
- The “virtual teacher” will have a name and become “real” to the student. This teacher can stay with the student year to year if desired or can evolve. The teacher can age and change to reflect time if desired.
- Once the “virtual teacher” is established it begins to learn. The teacher delivers curriculum at a speed and with details best suited to the students needs. The faster the student learns the more rapidly they advance. This can be done by subject. Testing is less formal and part of the education process since it’s used. This teacher adjusts delivery and content in a way designed to optimize learning while making it fun and interesting.
- Education funding is supplied by the State from taxes. The parent chooses the education delivery vehicle.
- Students would spend less time in formal learning (more time for real-world interactions and play)
- Students could travel without loss of education interaction (so long as there is internet access)
- What about students that don’t have a computer or internet access? Special arrangements would need to be made. However, studies and polls of parents indicate that ~95% of the population has access to computers and internet access.
- Personnel costs would be reduced dramatically potentially leading to a reduction in taxes
- Learning fits the individual and in so doing is targeted, focused and maximized
- Students could still get together in physical locations for activities and events on an organized or informal basis
- Given that public schools have embraced on-line education as acceptable they then must compete with other on-line sources. Whoever can deliver the best content at the most competitive price wins a larger share of the education pool.
- Days of the week or times of the day to attend classes becomes moot. The student can attend whenever, from wherever and for varying amounts of time. They could spend hours at a time or sessions as little as…30 min? Attention span could be dealt with as the virtual teacher learned about the student.
In the end public education as we know it would change dramatically. Would we need teachers? Their roles would certainly change. Teachers could be hired to oversee and monitor the education plans of students and interact with the “virtual teacher” as/if needed. Perhaps more of an oversight? Perhaps using human teachers in totally different ways? Would we need all the administration? (Likely not). We wouldn’t need the physical facilities and schools as they currently exist…we would likely need something different.
Interested in learning more about the incomes of people working in the K-12 system in Washington State? http://fiscal.wa.gov/DVK12Salaries.aspx When “virtual teachers” become the norm the personnel costs will drop dramatically.
Your thoughts on Education 2.0: Virtual Teachers?
Take our poll: