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Will teachers be the next dinosaurs?

Will the teachers become obsolete? This question was never more relevant than today.

Technology is redefining educational space in a major way. It has changed the teaching learning
environment in some fundamental ways. Technology, for example, has decentralized the knowledge in
the sense that it does not emanate from the twin sources - textbook or teachers, anymore. Rather,
knowledge is accessible to anyone and everyone who has the technology. This has implications on the
process of knowledge transfer. The internet revolution has brought the world of knowledge on
everyone’s finger tips. If one wants to know something they don't go searching a teacher or a
knowledgeable people. Google knows it all, everyone believes. The delivery mediums and platforms
including computers, laptops, tabs brought about many more interesting ways of learning. A teacher
may tell one way, here they have a variety of them in the form of multimedia audio visual, animation,
simulations and others.

The coming of mobile and particularly the Artificial Intelligence (AI) makes it possible to do a number of
routine educational chores much more efficiently than a teacher can ever do. In fact, some of the
learning algorithms that AI has come up with, is humanly impossible to replicate. The deep learning
allows us to discern learning patterns in students and offer adaptive learning solutions in a personalized
manner. Learning was never as engaging and teacher is no longer indispensable. In nut shell, technology
seems to be poised to make teachers really toil hard to justify their existence. The logic of edu-tech
seems to be heading to a teacher less classroom. Or, we are told to believe so.

Let us try to dig a bit deeper. The crux of the argument is that technology is going to play a crucial role in
education. Sure. A 21st century teacher has to adjust and refine his / her teaching skills to the emerging
technology and use these tech tools such that students achieve learning outcomes more effectively. But
to assume that the tool is going to replace the user needs to be examined in a context.

Considering a generalized and universal application of so called cutting edge technology does not cut
uniform ice in a world that presents a variegated reality. The technology needs to be considered against
the socio-economic and cultural context of a society.

Let me illustrate this with an example. In a remote village of Arunachal Pradesh the IL&FS Education
team was giving a demonstration of K-Class package which is a unique and comprehensive K to 12
solutions to make teaching learning engaging and meaningful. This village school did not have regular
electricity supply and tech gadgets are mostly run on generators or inverters.

Our team started a K-Class demo which comes bundled with K-Yan, a versatile knowledge vehicle
presenting a combination of various educational resources and tools. It has K-Class solutions including
videos for K to 12 classes; It can transform any smooth wall into an interactive space; it has an in built
sound system; it works as a community computer and even local server and so on. So, our facilitators
chose the available classroom wall to use it as projector and interactive screen. As the K-Yan came to life
by a simple press of a button it turned the class wall into a curious place. Students from nearby areas got
to know and came running, and sat on the window to see the wonder being created in front of them by
the interactive videos.

As the demo sessions ended and K-Yan was shut down, some students got up and went to the wall
where the video was projected and started feeling it. This wall had opened a world of enriching lesson in
video just a few seconds away. Where had that magic vanished? Their mesmerised eyes seemed to be
asking while their hands moved on the wall to get a faint touch of the characters who were live a few
seconds back. The teacher took over from here and started demystifying the 'magic', into learning.

Any talk of AI or cutting edge technology for this village school and teachers is nothing more than a fairy
tale. And, so long such schools will exist we will need a teacher who knows how to use an appropriate
technology for creating an engaging activity in the classroom and ignite the tender minds to explore the
world of knowledge.

Yes, those teachers who would wish away technology and resist it, will face an extinction to join the ilk
of dinosaurs.