Does VGo revolutionize education?

This Will Revolutionize Education is a video by Veritasium that has recently gone viral.  Veritasium – a science video blog – explores “everything science.” This particular video features Derek Muller who explains that, despite constant claims that disruptive technologies are set to revolutionize education, we haven’t actually seen any digital education revolution since before the times of Thomas Edison. Rather, we have seen a gradual evolution. Muller also talks to the socialization of learning and how teachers guide the social process of learning.

It made me think of our technology that is used by students who, for a number of reasons, cannot go to school.  People everywhere tell us our technology is “amazing” and “revolutionary.”  But when you consider what we’re doing for homebound students, we’re not trying to revolutionize learning but rather we’re applying technology in an effort to get students back into the traditional learning environment.

Why go back instead of doing something completely new?  Derek Muller in his video concludes,Despite advances in technology such as videos, on-line learning etc, the foundation of education is still based on the social interaction between teachers and students.  For as transformative each new technology appears to be, what really matters is what happens inside the learner’s head.  And making a learner think, seems best achieved in a social environment with other leaners and a caring teacher”. 

Our telepresence robot allows home and hospital bound students to attend school with the freedom to independently “walk” to classes, participate in the science discussion at the table, and even join their friends in the hallways just as if they were there physically.  An online class or an audio/video call can delivery academic leaning, but it can’t recreate the social environment created by teachers and friends in the school.

This is confirmed over and over again by educators and parents and students who have tried other solutions.  As one mother said “it is not about the grades but the fact that my child can have a social experience at school.”  Michelle Harvey, a teacher with the Children’s Medical Center School Services department said “We find that this technology gives our children who would not be able to attend school, because of illness or treatments, the opportunity to have some control in their lives.”

Yes, technology has evolved education. Just look at the impact that the internet has had on every teacher and student. My teenagers’ papers are filled with content that I was unable to dig up in the library of my day.  So although our technology doesn’t revolutionize learning, it has revolutionized the ability of hundreds of thousands of homebound students to get the same education as their peers - the same education that has stood the test of time - delivered by a teacher and groups of friends and learners.