Michael Maser: Machines can’t ‘personalize’ education, only people can
Michael Maser is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University. In this piece he brings together work of three education thinkers to consider the question of how to resolve the tension between technology and true individualizing of education. It’s not a new problem.
One key concern when considering both online learning and the tech platforms teachers may rely on in classrooms is a long-standing issue of how education should accommodate student individuality. For at least 150 years, education in the western world has been conflicted over this issue.
This conflict remains central to education debates unfolding today. For example, while some proponents of remote learning argue teachers can still offer personalized learning online, there are also industries focused on the notion that AI can also “personalize” student experiences. But machines aren’t persons.
Emerging research shows wide variability in student experiencesacross technology-based approaches and platforms. Even when particular teachers’ are successful in delivering remote learning with students’ personal and holistic interests in mind, they are working in an educational context with increased marketing, uptake and profiting from educational technologies.
Technology surely has a role in education, but determining what it will be, and whose interests it will really serve, is a critical public debate.