New ways of learning

Date posted: October 24, 2011

Everyone knows the importance of education in today’s global economy. Yet delivering educational information with a teacher in front of students has largely been the same for hundreds of years. With host Mary Walden, N.C. State University economist Mike Walden considers whether modern technology change this.

“Of course Mary, I know when you taught and when I’m still teaching now, we’ve seen the impact of technology — for example, rather than scribbling things on a blackboard or a white board, I make use of PowerPoint slides that are very clear and crisp and easy to see.

“But I think what … people that are looking at the impact of technology are talking about — and there’s really a quantum change or quantum leaps. And what some see in the future is the … greater use of distance learning … — where students can stay at home and learn. I think we will see more of that.

“And of course one impact of that would be saving money on … buildings, both at the K-12 level as well as the university level. But people also see the potential for using the best teachers in the world to … get … in your classroom from here in Raleigh, N.C., or anywhere in the country that is making use of this distance learning, where you’re going to tap into those … world-class experts to teach.

“And what some see happening is large lecture halls or students learning in their home, where they are being taught and led by these expert teachers who could come from anywhere in the world and then perhaps being coached locally by teacher assistants who are … experts in the field, but not at the level of that … master teacher if you will.

“So some see that as the future. Others say no, there still is a value — and a value that really exceeds what I just said of having — that close interaction in a traditional classroom between the teacher who is physically there and the students.

“So … there are a couple of ways that education in the future can go. My guess is we’ll use a mix of both and then, hopefully, evaluate which is the best tool.”

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