What Human Teachers Bring to the Table

As has been my mode lately, I was watching the most recent video from the Connected Courses project in Vialogues (Thanks, Terry) with Michael Wesch, Randy Bass and Cathy Davidson with my ear towards ideas that I might use in a comic. Of course, when you have smart people like that, interesting ideas float around like butterflies.

But something Cathy articulated resonated with me. She was talking about the growth of online learning spaces, and the tension between technology opening up new platforms for learning and the value (or not) of the “teacher in the room” as opposed to a screen at your desk.

Her comment about whether teachers can be replaced had me thinking. I know she was being provocative.

#ccourses Screen TeacherI could not resist poking fun at Pearson and its far reach into so many educational circles.

Later, after I tweeted the comic out, Cathy graciously replied that she liked the comic and then forwarded me her blog post in which she unpacks this very comment in a very thorough and thoughtful way. Go read it. (not being bossy; I think it is worth your time)

I made the comment back to her that I took her point to mean that we teachers (humans form) have to take advantage of what we bring to the table, live and in person. If we don’t and if we are just replicating the droning Q/A of a computer program or the distant teacher with no personal connections to their students, then why not just automate learning? I don’t believe this, although I see the value of online collaborative learning initiatives, but I do believe that we teachers – at whatever level you teach — have to take advantage of those learners in your space and work your butt off to make it worthwhile for them to be there with you.

Otherwise, the robot overlords will arrive …
Robot Overlords and Education


Peace (in connections),


  1. Great comic responses. I laughed out loud at your first one – we are using Google classroom in many of our classrooms and when students gets banned from computer use (not a rarity due to where I work), there is an immediate loud frustrated sigh by teachers. How shall we get the work to them?

    Love the monsters, too.

  2. Another thoughtful piece, Kevin–and one that sent me back to that (at this point) two-year-old posting to pick up the conversation where Cathy and others left off. Something for all of us to consider: is it necessary to focus on the computer screen as a replacement for learning facilitators, or is it possible to view the screens as tools used by great learning facilitators to effectively serve learners? My own experience as a trainer-teacher-learner is that ed-tech is evolving in magnificent ways, and I’ve had wonderfully engaging and rewarding learning experiences through the use of live as well as asynchronous online interactions–and continue to enjoy equally engaging and rewarding learning experiences onsite.

    • Paul
      I am hopeful too of the way tech and design are moving in a very interactive direction, and remain hopeful (with a skeptical eye towards corporations aiming to co-opt education and our students’ eyeballs)

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