Teachers vs technology: Can machines replace educators?

New Delhi (India): With the advent of technology, gadgets have crept into all aspects of our lives. We sleep to technology and wake up to it too, every simple task throughout the day includes the press of a button or the intervention of internet. In such a scenario, teaching is no exception as various e-learning platforms which have come up in the recent past are now giving tough competition to our good old gurus.

Many parents, however, still have apprehensions about e-learning when it comes to providing the right kind of education to their children.

Faisal Siddiqui, a banker by profession, is not in favour of e-learning. These online learning apps cannot develop a child’s capability to assess his own work, feels Faisal.

“Apart from learning at school, I have assigned a tutor at home for my child who keeps a track of whether my daughter is studying or not. These online apps cannot solve certain queries whereas a teacher can. Today if my child is facing problems in certain subjects then it will be a teacher who will easily help her even before a day of the examination rather than a computer which has fixed programming,” the banker explained his preference.

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With machine learning spreading its wings and teaching techniques expanding from projectors to smart boards, there still seems to be a lacuna when compared to the work of a teacher. Rekha Pachauri, assistant professor at Amity University, believes that no online app can replace a teacher. Online course material can be a blessing but a student still needs a teacher to grasp that material well, Pachauri feels.

“A conversation with teacher improves the understanding of the students not only about the topic but he is also able to find out the areas of improvement to focus upon. Also, there is no check on how much they are absorbing while listening to it,” Rekha said.

“Online apps conduct tests but again there is no check on students. Immediate doubts remain unclear and there is no one to give another perspective on the given topic. In this digital age, the online material is a blessing but it could be used for study material, a person needs a teacher for better understanding of the study material,” she opined.

With giant computer screens waiting to replace teachers, many educators are being bombarded with questions from parents who are worried about their child’s future in this era of rapid innovations. While technology has certainly proven to be a boon in many areas, counselor Shreyas Khanna detailed the negatives of it.

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Khanna, a senior education counselor who works with a learning app, and has catered to more than 300 sessions with parents says that it is a tedious task to convince parents as they feel that online learning can never judge a student’s performance better than a teacher at school.

“They feel that teaching online in classrooms or through apps is a waste of time as they are just pre-recorded lectures. They are way too fast and the child might get bored, whereas a human teacher can know when the child is paying attention and when he is not,” Khanna said.

The counselor also explained that many parents feel laptops and mobile phones are a big source of distraction for children.

Well, it turns out that teachers are irreplaceable when it comes to learning! And what better day than Teacher’s Day to come face-to-face with how important are those who teach us the lessons of life.

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