Will Technology Take the Place of Face-to-Face Instruction? Let’s Hope Not!

As we all know, technology is opening a lot of doors by allowing learners to get additional training and an education that in the past was not even remotely possible.  While this is definitely a positive step in the right direction, there have also been some controversial viewpoints regarding technology in training and education.  One of the biggest is that human instructors will become obsolete.  While technology can provide learning experiences in ways that a single instructor within a confined classroom of four walls cannot, there are many things a human instructor can provide that learners will never get from a machine. 

I have always and will always believe that learning institutions, schools, and corporate training centers will still need live, face-to-face instruction. Computers and technology may be a means of instruction but it isn’t the end all, be all. We aren’t robots, we are humans, and we still need humans to help facilitate class. Maybe our roles as instructors will change, how we train may change, but as long as we have human beings who need to learn we will need human instructors.

Computers are lifeless machines. They can’t be there to truly motivate learners when they need to be motivated just like my human teachers did when I was in school. Computers may be able to detect student work if it is correct or incorrect and provide clues as to the correct answer or give the correct answer but it can’t provide a teachable moment like a human instructor can. In my own classroom I have guided students who didn’t quite have the answer and led them to the correct answer or solution by asking them questions and probing for more information, why they were thinking in that manner, etc. and they ended up having an “a-ha moment”. It was my gentle, yet persevering guidance that led them to their own discovery, a discovery that they will never forget. A computer can’t watch the eyes or faces of learners and see them in despair if they don’t understand and make adjustments to the lesson or find better ways to teach so they understand. A computer can’t immediately answer questions and personalize the answers based on the learner’s level of understanding.  A computer can’t praise and motivate learners to success and help them cope when they fail or don’t get their way.  A computer or technology can’t teach certain on-the-job skills. There needs to be an intermediary, an instructor, to help guide and ensure learners’ success and to help guide them to become productive in the workplace.  Technology is an invaluable tool and I support elearning 100% but it is not meant to completely replace the human factor. 
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