Asimov and Aoun on the future of learning

 

In this interesting excerpt Asimov anticipates that the rise of machines and a democratised access to a continuous stream of data would enable a one to one relationship between source of information and recipient. If on one side this social revolution challenges the humanitarian essence of learning as suggested by the interlocutor, it also offers new opportunities that could redefine the role of teaching. With tutors/lecturers as facilitators and moderators perhaps to counteract the limits this conformation of learning . Asimov possibly fails to assess two major issues that comes with solitary learning, driven perhaps by his enthusiasm for progress but also because challenged by the occurrence of unexpected developments of modern societies. First, “expert” learning. Maybe targeted or expert learning is not longer relevant in a very complex and robotised world where machines can deliver superior accuracy in specific and targeted tasks. Perhaps focus in teaching should be put mainly on students ability to collaborate and develop solutions with others. Ability to relate and engage very quickly with individuals with different cultural, social and professional background. Learn different things, more quickly, contextually and efficiently rather than focusing too much on the perfect grasp of a specific subject.

I totally agree with Asimov and other scholars such Joseph Aoun for example, that modern teachers should put all efforts to equip pupils with just-in-time learning processes which equip them with mind set that enables them to read information and data always actively. Such mindset helps pupils to  integrate what they are learning in group focused activities and respond with the generation of ideas prototypes and solutions, leaving the technical nitty gritty to machines. Secondly, inaccurate and biased information. Asimov fails to foresee and address human dubious integrity and morality which can be applied to any technological advancement. With the recent rise of fake news and manipulated data as tools of political warfare, programs are also obliged to equip students with analytical and critical skills to filter out and question narratives behind sources of information and data.

And that’s probably where the need of Aoun’s humanics demonstrate its full potential. Asimov suggests that given the uninterrupted flowing nature of acquisition of knowledge through machines, people would be able transfer their interest or expertise from one subject to another. I believe that should be a methodology to be nourished in learning environments rather than an omen. Using contexts and pertinence. These are opportunities that make role of tutors less marginal if not central to the learning abilities of students. Mass education was a necessary response to the advent of the first industrial revolution and the advent of mass production. What type of learner this new world needs? Perhaps a perpetual learner which offers tutor the opportunity of being a teacher of learning skills.
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