Will Technology Replace Teachers? (You Be the Judge)

Will Technology Make Teachers Obsolete?

There’s a lot of discussion about automation and what it will mean for routine jobs in fast food, factories and trucking companies. Are we really facing a future of robot workers and self-driving trucks? Will Technology Replace Teachers? (You Be the Judge) will shine a little light on the discussion.

Are Virtual Teachers Next?

As teachers, you’re probably aware of the push for technical solutions to your classroom problems. Virtual classrooms already exist for online colleges, but they are still managed by human teachers. Virtual teachers might be part of our future if these trends continue.

Technology In the Classroom: Will It Make Teachers Obsolete?

As a new installment of the Terminator movies hits the big screen, maybe you’re thinking about androids or robots working as teachers. If businesses can use robots to work in factories, at cash registers or to drive big rigs, are schools far behind?

Technology Does Have LimitsWill Technology Replace Teachers? (You Be the Judge)

It might be too soon to worry. Technology can help with some parts of teaching, but it’s still missing the human element.

Electronic learning and other tools can help teachers deal with the mundane, routine parts of teaching. Many teachers have embraced these solutions to keeping classroom lists, scoring tests and other regular activities.

Shared Experiences

This type of learning has its limits, however. According to a 2018 article in Forbes magazine, shared, life experiences are integral to learning:

“Students naturally learn from one another while solving problems and working collaboratively in a traditional classroom. They’re validated and encouraged by face-to-face time with a teacher that doesn’t come from a recorded video.

E-learning has yet to find a way to truly imitate that.”

The Dark Side of Technology

It’s no secret that technology is present in classrooms everywhere. In earlier articles, we looked at schools who are moving away from using computers or any type of technology in the classroom.

Dangers of DevicesWiFi Free Zone

We also looked at the growing trend of affluent Silicon Valley professionals who refuse to allow their children to use electronic devices at home.

It’s clear that many people don’t think technology should be central in our lives or in our schools. At the same time, more schools are adopting technology and requiring teachers to use it.

Are Schools Relying on Technology Too Much?

The organization FairTest is a harsh critic of most new teaching technology. FairTest has been instrumental in calling out the problems of standardized testing. The organization sees several problems with the push for new technology that goes by the euphemism “personalized learning.”

According to FairTest, these programs:

  • Perpetuate standardized, test-driven teaching.
  • Remove personal autonomy from teachers and students by selecting materials and coursework for them.
  • Collect huge amounts of personal data from students who use them.
  • Create new hurdles for parents who don’t want their children using them.

Negative Impact

Worst of all, FairTest notes, “After several decades, researchers have seen little positive impact from educational technology. Meanwhile, researchers warn of a range of negative consequences from overexposure to technology and screen time. These include damage to intellectual, physical and emotional development, threats to privacy and, ironically, increased standardization.”

Will Teachers Just Become Facilitators?

In a 2017 article for the Atlantic Monthly, Kentucky teacher Paul Barnwell detailed his long history of using technology as a type of classroom assistant. At first skeptical about its usefulness, he eventually came to accept that a technical program called Reading Plus could help him personalize lesson plans for students who needed extra help.

Doing What Teachers Can’t

He describes having to design reading plans for 27 students who are either not native speakers or otherwise need to catch up on their reading levels. It was a relief to be able to let the Reading Plus program do this.

“I’ve earned an undergraduate degree in American literature, a master’s in teaching and a master’s in English literature,” Barnwell writes. “These credentials haven’t equipped me with the necessary background or skills to significantly improve my students’ reading ability. I’m not trained as a reading specialist. Even if I were, how could I possibly create 27 customized lessons? Maybe Reading Plus can do some of what I can’t.”

Teachers Can Interact In Ways a Screen Can’tWill Technology Replace Teachers? (You Be the Judge)

At the same time, Barnwell writes, it’s important to not let technology take over completely. The human dynamics are still necessary for good teaching.

“I can still do my best to impart a love of writing, attempt to spark passions, encourage curiosity, foster discussions, smile, laugh and interact with the students in ways a screen can’t,” he concludes.

Teachers Must Adapt Like Other Professionals

The future may not be that bleak for teachers. There is something irreplaceable about the human connection teachers bring to their students and classrooms.

Teacher Larry Strauss writes in the Huffington Post about watching his father and uncle face obsolescence in their chosen careers. He describes how both men had to learn to adapt to survive. Teachers, he notes, need to learn a similar lesson.

“Some children, at various times in their lives, may actually learn better from a well-programmed computer than a person,” Strauss writes. “We ought to recognize that and use whatever resources we have available to help every child we can. On the other hand, we all, teachers and everyone else who cares about them, vehemently oppose the false idea that all children can learn better from computers and other technology. Those devices are tools for educators. They do not replace human teachers, and I sure as hell hope they never do.”

The Human Element Is Still Key

Sal Khan, a developer who created the technology-based Khan Academy, wrote in Fast Company recently that, “If given the choice between a great teacher and the world’s most advanced education technology, I’d pick the teacher any day for my own children. Fortunately, we don’t have to choose between teachers and technology. Technology is you used when it empowers teachers and students to create personalized, accessible, creative learning experiences. We just have to be careful to view it as a means to this end rather than an end unto itself.”

Teachers: Are You Prepared for the New Technology?

If you’re a teacher, are you worried about being displaced by technology? How much technology is your school system using? Let us know what the upsides and downsides are in your experience.

Maybe you’ve decided it’s time to move your teaching to a whole new technological level. Maybe you’re ready to offer your own courses on a website of your own?

Teachers Pay Teachers and Senor Wooly are two great examples. The call for online learning continues to grow at an amazing rate. Why not investigate it for yourself? This link will take you to my article focused just for teachers.

Learn How to Make Money by Proofreading Content

18 thoughts on “Will Technology Replace Teachers? (You Be the Judge)”

  1. Hey thank you for the awesome yet scary post!  I also worry about this.  The Catholic School I send my kids to recently got new Ipads and Laptops for all the kids there for different class activities.  I find it really odd, and I’m sure it is putting a strain on some of the teachers there.

    • Thank you!  I’m glad you enjoyed the article.  I’m really sad to hear Catholic schools are giving in to the technology push.  Sometimes paper and pencil really is better. 

      Thanks for joining the conversation; I appreciate it!

  2. There are so many online learning resources available that are either free or low-cost, I think that the internet is on its way towards making teachers and schools obsolete. I’ve earned a bachelor’s degree the old-fashioned way, but have been regularly using free online materials for the past several years. I feel as though I’m learning more with these resources than I ever did in a classroom. However, it is hard to get recognized certification for this learning. Once there are more options to earn it, traditional schools will start to go the way of the horse and buggy.  

    • I agree that it is just a matter of time before the online certifications become just as acceptable as the ones earned the “old fashioned way.”  I’m already wondering what the universities that have spent so much money on expanding their campuses will do in a few years.  I too believe they will become an unnecessary relic of the past.  It will be interesting to watch.

      Thanks for joining the conversation; I appreciate it!

  3. Hi Nancy,

    This is a really interesting topic. Personally, I think that there will always be a need for teachers. This is because kids need to ask questions and teachers can adapt their style to get the message across to different kids and groups. Also, there is a big enough problem with screen time impacting on kid’s personal skills right now. A totally automated classroom will make that worse. However, technology is a huge part of our lives, so kids need to be able to understand it so they can use it and develop it further.

    • I’m sure technology is going to continue to move into more and more aspects of our lives.  I can’t imagine how that will happen in the classroom, but I’m sure that it will.  I hope it’s a friendly, helpful change for us humans!  

      Thanks for joining the conversation; I appreciate it!

  4. If there is any place that technology cannot overshadow humans I would really have to say that it is the job of school teachers. That human element is really very important when it comes to teaching. Robots I believe are being designed to adapt to situations but I believe they can never adapt to the stage whereby they would replace teachers. 

    I for one cannot encourage my kids to be taught by a robot. What if the robot decides to malfunction or go rogue. I have watched iRobot afterall. Technology would help assist teachers in the classroom and make their work easier but I don’t think that it can replace teachers.

    • I have a hard time imagining a complete replacement of teachers by robots.  However, I also watched iRobot, and having a robot assistance in the room is probably more likely than we want to admit.  It’s definitely a brave new world!

      Thanks for joining the conversation; I appreciate it!

  5. As a language teacher, I am obliged to agree that technology is beginning to take over. Technology is giving people so much power to do things on their own. Sometime later, people will do things all on their own and we will not be able to define our social lives. In education it is gradually becoming a norm. People take classes from apps for example, if you go online to check for online apps to teach languages, you’ll have a ton of options. I agree with you that sometimes, the human element is very much there and we need to understand that there is a need for an authority. Nice discourse.

    • Thanks for the kind words.  You’re in a perfect position to see the “writing on the wall” regarding this topic.  I’m not sure it’s a bad thing, but it will definitely be very different from what we know today.

      Thanks for joining the conversation; I appreciate it!

  6. Online learning and technology is something that is coming whether people like it or not. There are numerous benefits but also there are negative effects. Technology has let education be accessible to more people than ever before. A reliance on tech though has several terrible effects. It will have to be a delicate balancing act. Also though there are many teachers that are terrible and children could probably learn better from a computer. I think that it is also important that children learn how to use tech since it is becoming even more prevalent in the world today. It’s hard to say what the right answer is.  

    • I am in complete agreement with you.  It is very hard to know the right answer when considering technology in the classroom.  I did a lot of my own coursework online.  It allowed me to work, which I needed to do, and go to school, which I wanted to do.  The secret is to not let the technology get away from us.  That’s difficult because we’ve never traveled this road before.  It will definitely keep life interesting!

      Thanks for joining the conversation; I appreciate it!

  7. This topic has being for some time now, and I love the way you break every thing down here. Absolutely. technology can really help teachers to reach out to more students and reduce physical strain and also save time for both of them. To me, I think there is no way technology can replace teachers ever.


    • Thanks for the kind words.  It’s true that technology has made some teaching jobs, such as grading, less time consuming.  However, it has also taken a lot of the human element out of the paper or test being graded.  If a human is grading a paper, there is some room to give credit for partially correct responses.  With a grading program, the answer is either right or wrong.  That bothers me.

      Thanks for joining the conversation; I appreciate it!

  8. Thank you for this informative article. My personal opinion is that technology will never be able to replace teachers. Technology may create and have created a virtual teachers that will have limited number of potential answers, but still human mind is needed in the first place – to fill in all of those questions and answers.

    Love your website by the way.

    • Thank you for the kind words.  My concern is that we’ve gotten very clever with the things we can invent, but give very little thought to how the inventions will impact the humans using them.  I hope the results are good for everyone involved.

      Thanks for joining the conversation; I appreciate it!

  9.  I can not agree more with your assessment! There have been several times when my daughters would come home and complain that the teacher refused to help and kept referring them to the computer. 

    This was especially true with my oldest daughter in her Graphics Design class. Every day, the kids would sit in front of the computer and learn a new lesson, without any input from the teacher. She would sit there and not even walk around to see if any of the kids needed help. Now, if they did ask for help, she would refer them to look over the computer lesson again. 

    I believe that there is a fine line when it comes to technology and students. Don’t you think that they should learn the basics before relying on the internet/ technology? 

    • I definitely agree students should learn the basics first.  I have a grandson who is taking an algebra class this semester.  The district has mandated that students use calculators extensively for this class.  When my grandson told the teacher he wanted to learn to work the problems with paper and pencil, she tried to put him off.  When he persisted, she just told him she preferred to use the calculator.  She has a class full of students who have no idea what’s going on.  We got a tutor for my grandson, and he’s helping fellow students now.  

      f you’re unhappy with what’s going on in the school, talk to the principal.  If you aren’t satisfied with his or her response, go to the district.  Sometimes it helps.  At the very least, make your displeasure known.

      Thanks for joining the conversation; I appreciate it! 


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