How Technology Can Make Classrooms More Human: Letting students choose what they learn


As technology gets better at doing jobs humans used to do, it’s important to revisit the role of humans in the classroom. I’ll be writing a series of articles exploring this topic.

First: By freeing up time for teachers.

Second: Letting students choose what they learn*.

Why is it that most schools don’t let children choose what they want to learn? Is it because students are not smart enough to choose? Because they’re not sure of what they want to pursue in life?

I don’t think so. I think schools don’t let them because it can quickly become an administrative nightmare.

Think of how you, as a teacher or school owner, can keep track of what 10, 25, 100, or a 1000 students are learning.

If they’re all learning the same subjects at the same time, standardized testing can help you get an estimation. But what if you have 1000 students learning different subjects? What would you do?

A decade ago this problem would have been very hard to solve at a reasonable cost. Now, we can use technology to keep track of each student’s learning goals, and alert a teacher if someone is getting behind. This is what EdTech companies like Khan Academy and Duolingo are doing.

This way, students can choose what they want to learn, and get help or encouragement when they most need it.

This way, 1,000 students can be learning 1,000 different subjects, and have computers take care of the paperwork.

In fact, I believe the costs of this model can be so low, that a school with personalized learning can be cheaper than a traditional classroom.

So, why wouldn’t we embrace this?

Let’s replace bureaucracy with software.

Let’s create a world where we embrace learning autonomy. Where children are free to choose. Where they can get together with others who share their dreams, and work hard to achieve them.

*If you’d like to read more, here are other ways in which technology can make classrooms more human:

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