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Screen Sharing Brings Tutors to the Inner City

Via Meadia has looked at how teleconference technology may save the planet. Can it also provide education to poor children in the inner city? According to a recent New York Times piece, it can. The Times reports that JPMorgan Chase has launched a new remote tutoring program in which volunteers tutor children in dangerous or remote parts of New York over the internet, rather than making the trek through the dodgy streets in person. While the program is not without its critics, it offers some obvious benefits, especially for children who would otherwise be fortunate to get any tutoring at all.

This is yet another heartening example of the potential for new technology to fundamentally change the way we educate our children. Using this technology to let skittish yuppies help poor kids without risking their Rolexes in sketchy neighborhoods is ultimately not the main point. Reducing the role of distance in education is a much bigger thing. For most potential tutors, it’s the commute rather than the danger that is the problem; add a 40 minute journey each way to the time of a tutoring session and your pool of tutors shrinks.

The abolition of distance will transform education in our lifetimes. Falling costs and rising quality in video transmission are part of a process that will change education more profoundly than did the invention of printing. We are still in the very early stages of these changes; sooner rather than later there will not be a student, a parent or a teacher in the United States whose life has not been touched by the Great Upgrade now taking shape.

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  • WigWag

    “Dangerous” or “sketchy” parts of New York; where would those be? New York City has the lowest crime rate of any significantly sized city in America. I can’t think of a single neighborhood in New York that I would be afraid to go, at least during daytime. Perhaps it’s because I dont own a Rolex.

  • a nissen

    This WRM find is a mirror image of gated communities—a more meaningful society proposed here:
    (Author’s Presentation: “Don’t Shoot”, David Kennedy 2011)

    TAI readers please advise: is the proposal blue or red?

  • thibaud

    Schools of the future will invert our current model of home and classroom-based work.

    Lessons will be delivered remotely, ie to the student’s home computer. Students will be able to scroll back and forth, link to other sources for deeper or alternate explorations, pick up where they left off, repeat difficult portions, and tap into collective wisdom through online Quora-style Q&A.

    What we call “homework” today will in future be done in the class: supervised exercises with immediate feedback from teachers who act more like tutors, hovering and floating from workstation to workstation to check on and correct students’ work in real time.

    The teaching profession will morph into two distinct roles, the star lecturers (who will be very few in number) and the tutors. Tutors will have to have deep subject knowledge and will specialize in a subject. They will have less need of skills in classroom management, psychology etc of the sort that the Education schools focus on imparting.

    Far more efficient and effective, and the teaching profession’s quality will improve significantly as well. No more need for bottom-quartile grads from third-rate schools.

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