Computers can help you get schooled for minimum wage jobs

Justin Reich said:

In the [past] forty years … educational technologists have made progress in teaching parts of the curriculum that can be most easily reduced to routines, but we have made very little progress in expanding the range of what these programs can do. During those same forty years, in nearly every other sector of society, computers have reduced the necessity of performing tasks that can be reduced to a routine. Computers, therefore, are best at assessing human performance in the sorts of tasks in which humans have already been replaced by computers.

Perhaps the most concerning part of these developments is that our technology for high-stakes testing mirrors our technology for intelligent tutors. We use machine learning in a limited way for grading essays on tests, but for the most part those tests are dominated by assessment methods – multiple choice and quantitative input – in which computers can quickly compare student responses to an answer bank. We’re pretty good at testing the kinds of things that intelligent tutors can teach, but we’re not nearly as good at testing the kinds of things that the labor market increasingly rewards. In ‘Dancing with Robots,’ an excellent paper on contemporary education, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane argue that the pressing challenge of the educational system is to ‘educate many more young people for the jobs computers cannot do.’ Schooling that trains students to efficiently conduct routine tasks is training students for jobs that pay minimum wage – or jobs that simply no longer exist.


One Response to “Computers can help you get schooled for minimum wage jobs”

  1. Interactive software that continuously assesses and addressees individual learning ‘preferences’ is able to keep kids interested/focused on the ‘lesson’, especially if it’s attempting to teach a skill where repetition/practice is critical to ‘progressing’. The ‘market’ undoubtedly ‘rewards’ professionals i.e. bankers, brokers, managers but no one can learn to think critically if they can’t read easily, with good comprehension. It seems obvious the basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic must be acquired early or our kids fall behind and never catch up. Our K-12 schools graduate millions of kids every year without the skills to succeed in school or in life. Well designed, automated systems can insure every child ‘masters’ the basic skill at grade level before they’re passed on to the next. Traditional classrooms have never been able to personalize learning. One-on-one is the answer and interactive software is on the cusp of giving us the ability to accommodate individual learning strengths and weaknesses as never before.

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