Most of our lives we learn specifically what we need to achieve our goals. As children we learn how to crawl, walk, and talk when we are physically ready to do so and when our brains are sufficiently developed to take on the task. Even so, we will only attempt something new, like the precarious act of walking, when we are motivated to do it. Babies start to crawl to get to something that they want, their mother and her milk, for example, a shiny toy, or perhaps something to explore. Similarly, we learn to talk to get what we want. We cry, for example, to express our desires, to complain about the temperature, or to signal that we need help!
Being the dependent creatures that we are, we look to mentors to help us develop new skills. Our mothers prevent us from swallowing the shiny trinket on the coffee table, or our fathers catch us just as we are about to tumble down the basement stairs. Having mentors to help us as we exercise our inquisitive minds is an integral part of the human experience. It allows us to test the world around us and to learn from our mistakes in relative safety. That is organic learning.
We learn organically throughout our lives, except for when we are in the formal industrial educational system that we call school. You’ve heard this before, that schools were designed to rapidly teach large groups of students to meet the demands of an industrial age. In school, all students are expected to learn the same content at a pace that is set by the system, whether or not they are ready for it. We are expected to learn according to a set deadline. It is difficult to learn this way, yet we have been practicing this form of education for centuries.
The prevalent system does not allow for time and nurturing to guide the learning process.
We measure students’ abilities according to this same industrial system. It’s an artificial way of measuring intellectual progress. We judge students on their abilities to excel within the system, even though it does not reflect the real world. We do not take into consideration their individual abilities to learn and to produce. Some people memorize content more slowly than others, yet excel at problem solving. Others lack creativity but have photographic memories. The prevalent system does not allow for time and nurturing to guide the learning process.
Members of the work force people need to maintain and expand their knowledge, often necessitating a return to the industrial education system. Whether in a physical classroom or online, the available educational entities use the same classroom model. With a 50% attrition rate, this model is clearly not working. Unless required for job certification, continuing education trails off. Even doctors do not consistently keep up with advances in their professions.
Learning is difficult. Those in the workforce have much less time to learn even if they are motivated to do so. The great expansion of lifelong programs and of online schools proves that there is a lifelong hunger for learning. Indeed those who stop learning have decidedly less enjoyable lives.
What makes learning difficult is that the prevalent model of simulating the classroom online is not ideal for learning in a world with the distractions of work, friends, and family. The current model places the classroom online and removes the classroom’s most important element – a teacher who can answer questions and find new ways to teach content when students do not understand.
A paradigm shift is in the works.
A paradigm shift is in the works. Imagine mentors guiding us in our day-to-day organic learning experiences, as when we were babies.
That is what artificial intelligence will deliver. Artificially Intelligent mentors will accompany us on our phones, tablets, and computers. A capable AI mentor will help you determine what you need to learn. It will display relevant videos and articles and serve up interactive experiences, such as virtual reality worlds. It will optimize learning by helping you identify and fill in knowledge gaps. They will be there when you need them, whether you are on the job, or at home, so that you can get exactly the information you need when you need it. AI will deliver personalized education in an economically viable package that will reshape education and put learning back in the hands of the student!
Emiliano De Laurentiis is the founder and CEO of Knowledge Avatars Incorporated. Knowledge Avatars™ is an Internet platform that allows anyone to create and monetize their own AI mentor.