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The Gates vision of technology

"This may be the biggest untold story of education technology: When used properly, technology can amplify the human element in education. 

“Every year, millions of people take an introductory course in algebra. Until now, that has meant that thousands of teachers had to present introductory lectures in algebra. But technology is changing that.

“I like to compare it to the change that took place in the world of music. Before recorded music, everybody listened to the best singers in their neighborhood or in their city. Over time, the record industry found great singers, put a budget behind them to help them get even better, and recorded their performances so we can now listen to the world’s best singers in our homes.

“The same thing is happening in the world of academic lectures. We don’t have to have 20 different people in a large urban area all giving a lecture in the same introductory course. We can get the greatest lecturers in the English-speaking world, every student can listen to them, and the instructors who used to spend their time preparing and delivering lectures can become 21st-century community college instructors.

“These instructors are gifted at relating to students, running small group learning sessions, and matching up students with the best resources available—the best lectures, the best problem sets, the best assessments. They have more time to get to know the students, explain difficult concepts and troubleshoot when students aren’t thriving.
They are the architects and motivators of learning.

“The smart use of technology doesn’t replace faculty—it redeploys them, to the benefit of the students.”

Bill Gates, addressing the Association
of Community College Trustees, Oct. 2, 2013

Reprinted from the Winter 2013-14 issue of On Campus.