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Ed-Tech, WTF

A Hack Education Project

Predicting the Future of Education Technologies


“Books will soon be obsolete in schools” — Thomas Edison (1913)

“If, by a miracle of mechanical ingenuity, a book could be so arranged that only to him who had done what was directed on page one would page two become visible, and so on, much that now requires personal instruction could be managed by print.” — Edward Thorndike (1912)

“In 50 years, there will be only 10 institutions in the world delivering higher education and Udacity has a shot at being one of them.” – Sebastian Thrun (2012)

“In 15 years from now, half of US universities may be in bankruptcy. In the end I’m excited to see that happen. So pray for Harvard Business School if you wouldn’t mind.” - Clayton Christensen (2013)

“I propose to consider the question, 'Can machines think?'” — Alan Turing (1950)

“The data we are collecting is unprecedented in education. We see every mouse click and keystroke. We know if a user clicks one answer and then selects another, or fast-forwards through part of a video.” — Andrew Ng (2013)

“The central and dominant aim of education by radio is to bring the world to the classroom, to make universally available the services of the finest teachers, the inspiration of the greatest leaders … and unfolding events which through the radio may come as a vibrant and challenging textbook of the air.” — Benjamin Darrow (1932)

“For millennia teaching methods have remained relatively unchanged: a lone lecturer stands in front of students, working with chalk and slate to illustrate ideas.” - Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee (2014)

“As in other industries, the technology is being deployed by management primarily to discipline, deskill, and displace labor.” — David Noble (1998)

“With or without aversive contingencies, it is easy to ‘lose our pigeon’ and the student never becomes a reader” – B. F. Skinner (1968)

“This robot tutor can essentially read your mind.” – Jose Ferreira (2015)

“Any teacher that can be replaced by a machine should be!” – Arthur C. Clarke (1980)

“MOOCs make education borderless, gender-blind, race-blind, class-blind and bank account-blind.” – Anant Agarwal (2013)

“One might say the computer is being used to program the child. In my vision, the child programs the computer, and in doing so, both acquires a sense of mastery over a piece of the most modern and powerful technology and establishes an intense contact with some of the deepest ideas from science, from mathematics, and from the art of intellectual model building.” — Seymour Papert (1980)

“Education no longer has any humanist end or any value in itself; it has only one god, to create technicians.” — Jacques Ellul (1964)

“Teachers need more time and better outcomes and they need a magic pill that’s going to make that happen. That’s what we’re trying to give them.” – Jose Ferreira (2015)

“In most contemporary educational situations where children come into contact with computers the computer is used to put children through their paces, to provide exercises of an appropriate level of difficulty, to provide feedback, and to dispense information. The computer programming the child.” — Seymour Papert (1980)

“Despite the claims of technology promotors that computers can transform teaching and learning, the teachers we studied adapted computers to sustain, rather than transform, their philosophy that the whole child develops best when both work and play are cultivated and ‘developmentally appropriate’ tasks and activities are offered.” — Larry Cuban (2001)

“We are entering a new phase in world history—one in which fewer and fewer workers will be needed to produce the goods and services for the global population.” — Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee (2011)

“Will machines replace teachers? On the contrary, they are capital equipment to be used by teachers to save time and labor. In assigning certain mechanizable functions to machines, the teacher emerges in his proper role as an indispensable human being. He may teach more students than heretofore—this is probably inevitable if the world-wide demand for education is to be satisfied—but he will do so in fewer hours and with fewer burdensome chores. In return for his greater productivity he can ask society to improve his economic condition.” — B. F. Skinner (1958)

“I believe that the motion picture is destined to revolutionize our educational system and that in a few years it will supplant largely, if not entirely, the use of textbooks. …I should say that on the average we get about two percent efficiency out of schoolbooks as they are written today. The education of the future, as I see it, will be conducted through the medium of the motion picture… where it should be possible to obtain one hundred percent efficiency.” — Thomas Edison (1922)

“Holy shit. I know Kung Fu!” — Keanu Reeves (1999)

“Comparable results have been obtained with pigeons, rats, dogs, monkeys, human children… and psychotic subjects. In spite of great phylogenetic differences, all these organisms show amazingly similar properties of the learning process. It should be emphasized that this has been achieved by analyzing the effects of reinforcement and by designing techniques that manipulate reinforcement with considerable precision. Only in this way can the behavior of the individual be brought under such precise control.” – B. F. Skinner (1954)

“Education is the one major activity in this country which is still in the crude handicraft stage.” — Sidney Pressey (1932)

“At our universities we will take the people who are the faculty leaders in research or in teaching. We are not going to ask them to give the same lectures over and over each year from their curriculum cards, finding themselves confronted with another roomful of people and asking themselves, ‘What was it I said last year?’ This is a routine which deadens the faculty member. We are going to select instead the people who are authorities on various subjects — the people who are most respected within their respective departments and fields. They will give their basic lecture course just once to a group of human beings, including both the experts of their own subject and bright children and adults without special training in their field. These lectures will be recorded as Southern Illinois University did my last lecture series of fifty-two hours in October 1960. They will make moving-picture footage of the lectures as well as hi-fi tape recording. Then the professors and and their faculty associates will listen to the recordings time and again” — R. Buckminster Fuller (1962)

“This is the role of humanities — a supplement to STEM and the professions.” — Vinod Khosla (2016)

“Do not bend, spindle, fold or mutilate.” — UC Berkeley students (1965)

“The machine itself, of course, does not teach. It simply brings the student into contact with the person who composed the material it presents. It is a laborsaving device because it can bring one programmer into contact with an indefinite number of students. This may suggest mass production, but the effect upon each student is surprisingly like that of a private tutor.” — B. F. Skinner (1958)

“Those who live by electronics, die by electronics. Sic semper tyrannis.” — Kurt Vonnegut (1952)

Image credits: Bryan Mathers. Suggest an image or a quotation