The answer is, “no”. In a recent EdSurge op-ed, digital learning expert George Siemens argues that educational technology is not becoming more human, but rather that it’s making the human a technology.

But what does this mean? Siemens explains emerging technology today is focused on becoming more human and capable of judgments, what we once thought was our domain. Take for example AI and machine learning. Yet he discusses that with education, the opposite is true.

Many of today’s ed-tech solutions require the human to become a technology, or rather a component within their software system. This “sit and click” automated way of doing something takes away from the learning experience that it was once intended to support. Rather than learning, users seem to be simply consuming.

The education technology solutions that are truly invested in improving learning and teaching today are those that are empowering for learners and reflective of a human and creative-oriented future. Siemens’ framework for such technologies includes five elements:

  • Does the technology foster creativity and personal expression?
  • Does the technology develop the learner and contribute to her formation as a person?
  • Is the technology fun and engaging?
  • Does the technology have the human teacher and/or peer learners at the center?
  • Does the technology consider the whole learner?

Over the past several years Siemens’ grants and research interests have reflected these elements, saying “adios” to technosolutionism, including the dLRN grant with Smart Sparrow which “focuses on multiple dimension of learning success where the teacher remains central in the learning experience.”

You might’ve heard us say this before, and we won’t get tired of repeating it, keeping the experiences of instructors at the center of our work has been a guiding principle for Smart Sparrow, and as such we believe in designing tools that support great teaching.

Our instructional design platform empowers—not replaces—faculty. It allows them to create amazingly engaging, adaptive and active learning experiences, such as those that include rich simulations, enabling them to teach as well online as they do in the classroom.

Going back to Siemens’ question, “Is technology losing its humanity?” “The answer is no” says Dror. The future of technology enabled learning is a future in which technology humanizes rather than reduces people to algorithmic and mechanical practices and we believe teachers should play a more central role in designing technology that allows them to teach smarter.