The Human Element: Necessary or an Add-On?

In Humanizing Education’s Algorithms, Mubeen (2016) begins by relating an instance where he analyzed a student’s academic performance patterns, based upon a computer program (algorithm) designed for just that purpose.  What the algorithm did not take into account was the human element.  This caused the analysis to be way off mark.  The student’s excellent marks, especially in math, belied the fact he was homeless and had access to a computer at the local library only twice a week.

Further, what has technology relegated teachers to become?  Are we lecturers and dispensers of information only, or do we still have the mandate to give our students the human touch, that element of community not created by machines or apps?  Mubeen goes on the say, “An algorithmic approach is not sufficient to serve our students. Joshua has met with success because his teachers are active agents in his learning journey.” (Mubeen 2016).  The article’s impetus is that while programs and such are fine and perhaps necessary, they alone are not enough to create and maintain an environment of learning whereby students may become, and remain, successful.  The teacher is there and must be aware of contingencies that computers and programs are not able to handle from a purely subjective point of view.

Basically, and to be guilty of re-stating, the thrust of this article is that we can only really make sense of the learning process if we take into consideration the human element.  Algorithms are wonderful tools for what they do, but can an algorithm insert the human quality?  We have discussed this before during our time studying AI and robots, etc.  The process, or the machine, can mimic performance, but can it mimic intent? Apathy? Motivation?  this are questions that educators must address beyond the technological tools available.

Mubeen, J. (2016) Humanizing Education’s Algorithms. EdsurgeNewsJune 10, 2016


Week 7 Summary Revised

As James noted, my Week 7 Summary really did not address the themes of the week.  I realized this when I wrote the previous Summary, but wanted to present what took some of my time during the week.  On reflection I could have simply made a different entry and title but I didn’t so . . .

As for the theme of Block2: Community, looking back again at the midpoint posting by James, I see how the themes of the prior weeks are moving, or have moved, together.  We started off the course trying to figure out this crazy thing called IFTTT, which some are still having issues with.  Then we moved into space, presence, and community.  A good portion of the feedback received this past week from James was focused on my use of apps or tools to make my presence more pronounced not only in my blog but on the net overall.  James encouraged me to use other forms of media and programs in order to expand my opportunities to connect with others.  I see the value in this and I have been working to get more apps and platforms set up for that purpose.

So far, the tools I have used have been Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Lino, Instagram, Tumblr, and YouTube.  New apps I have looked at are Bitly, Padlet, Flickr and Reddit.  I am sure there will be more but for now I am trying to get how IFTTT fits them all together so they work correctly into my Lifestream.  One aspect I have to incorporate is the use of video in my Lifestream feeds.  So far, I have inserted pictures, images, and some vide from YouTube.  I will have to work on using other forms of media in order to fully experience the connection in community our themes have explored.