We've been seeing a lot of sci-fi ideas become a reality over the past few years, but this one might take the cake. Computers are now pitching in to help decide how best to teach children in some U.S. states.
Including the District of Columbia, four states have enlisted the help of teaching programs that test and build curriculums based on a computer's judgment. What's surprising is that kids are taking to this sci-fi concept much better than I expected.
David A. Boody (I.S. 228) is a school where five out of every six students qualify for free or reduced lunch. These are the kids that need education the most.
Nichole Dobo, a writer for the ed-tech blog Heschinger Report, visited the school. What she found was that the computer turned the students' math education into a well-oiled machine.
Dobo explains what happens when students prepare to start their math class:
The entrance to the math class at the David A. Boody looks a bit like a scene at an airport terminal. Three giant TV screens carry daily schedule updates for all students and teachers. The area is huge, yawning across a wide-open space created by demolishing the walls between classrooms.
This schedule is designed entirely around decision made by a computer program based on how the students have quizzed. It identifies spots where students are lagging behind, groups them together, and then assigns teachers to make sure that they're staying on track.
The kids love it. Dmitry Vlasov, an assistant teacher at David A. Boody, said that they treat their robot math teacher "like it as if it were a game."
While the kids at David A. Boody might like the new computer-managed system, the jury on whether it actually teaches them more effectively than a human being. Dobo explains:
The early research on Teach to One: Math shows schools that use the program have improved test scores, but could not conclude that Teach to One is the reason.
So what do you think? Would you want robots teaching your kids? Let's get this discussion started in the comment section.