Why Computers Can Never Replace Schools

Emerging Technologies and Edtech September 28, 2020

The evidence of dramatic change is all around us and it’s happening at an exponential speed. The Fourth Industrial Revolution with its ubiquitous, mobile supercomputing, self-learning software, and self-driving cars brings opportunities to imagine innovative leaps for humanity. Who will be leading these ideas? Those who are confident to use their imagination, to think outside of silos, and who want to improve society. 

This imaginative ability does not only belong to a handful of intelligent, brave and lucky women and men, capable of bringing new ideas to life. Everyone has this capability. Unfortunately, our education systems often don’t foster confidence in children to express their own thoughts and ideas. The system was designed 200 years ago against the backdrop of the First Industrial Revolution, as explained by Sir Ken Robinson in his famous TED Talk Do Schools Kill Creativity. The vast majority of students are still trapped in this outdated system.

All too often companies fall into the same trap and run eco-systems in which new ideas get judged the second they are expressed, and get labeled as “Too expensive”, “Customers don’t want this”, “We don’t have the supply system for that” or “It’s impossible”. This mindset causes companies, organizations, and humanity as a whole to forfeit valuable insights, while at the same time silencing the creativity and imagination of engaged people.

In turbulent times like these, it’s important to invest in long-term solutions, like creating safe environments where students can express their ideas and learn how to make them a reality. Because good schools are all about inspiring the power of possibility.

We are seeing some encouraging examples of Project-Based-Learning and Maker-Centered-Learning operating in schools. These solutions give students the opportunity to work on an idea from beginning to end. In the process, they learn that nothing comes easy and that any idea will require teamwork before it comes to fruition. They also learn to respect others’ talents, and to become resistant and resilient. Once students go through this process, they are more likely to grow in confidence and take these skills with them in their future professional lives.  

Therefore, computers can never replace schools. A part of the education process like knowledge transfer can sometimes take place online and remotely, and the use of (AI-powered) EdTech certainly has potential for personalized learning, but skills development, and social and emotional learning are equally important aspect of education. This includes bonding with your friends and peers, experiencing the magic of teamwork, sensing others’ ideas, fears, anxieties, and having fun while learning.

Today we hear many voices claiming online is where education has to be. But we hope that those in charge of our education systems will continue to safeguard the fundamental DNA of our schools: an inspiring learning eco-system, focused on human connections between educators and students, among students themselves, and with society at large; a supportive environment where all students can develop their whole being.