Will Technology Replace Professors?

July 20, 2016 Christopher Ruel

professor and students.jpgTechnology in the classroom is on the upswing. While this is a relatively new trend, the wave of innovation is rapidly changing the teaching and learning landscape from kindergarten to graduate school. What does this mean for how we teach—and even more importantly, what does this mean for the future of teaching?

Educators see technology’s potential to transform learning, and many have embraced it. But at the same time, budget woes at all levels have forced learning institutions to scale back, often reducing the payroll to cut costs. The technology revolution viewed through the lens of a teacher can be frightening as it inevitably leads to an existential question, “Am I needed?”

Nancy Mullins, a professor of Chemistry at Florida State University, exemplifies why teachers are—and will continue to be—irreplaceable:

After a particularly harrowing week, I took my sick, elderly dog to the veterinarian. While I was in the waiting room, a woman came to me with her teenage daughter. She introduced herself and then turned to her daughter and said, "Dr. Mullins is the reason that I am a nurse today.”

Looking at her more closely, I remembered her as the student who came to class and fell asleep almost as soon as she sat down. After about a week of class, I called her aside after class and asked her if I could help her. It seemed that she was being evaluated for severe sleep apnea and was horrified that she was sleeping so much. Solution? First, I referred her to another doctor to be re-evaluated. I implemented a few techniques to use in class, including standing up to take tests. I also gave her a few suggestions to help her stay focused at home. Within a couple of weeks, doctors found that her CPAP mask was not working for her, swapped it out, and then she could manage again. She later told me that it was her first semester in college and that she thought that she wasn't cut out for college if she couldn't stay awake!

Do you think professors can be replaced by technology? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments below. 

Image credit: Hero Images/Getty Images


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Senior Marketing Manager, Wiley //

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