UCLA Philosophy Professor Offers Viewpoint on Computer Tech in Colleges

UCLA Professor Pamela Hieronymi

In her article Don’t Confuse Technology With College Teaching, Pamela Hieronymi, a professor in UCLA’s philosophy department, issues her concerns about technology gaining dominance over traditional pedagogy in colleges and universities. Computer technology may quickly find a place in the higher education of the future, but she argues it must never interfere with the valuable lessons learned from student-teacher interaction.

“Education is not the transmission of information or ideas. Education is the training needed to make use of information and ideas. As information breaks loose from bookstores and libraries and floods onto computers and mobile devices, that training becomes more important, not less.”

When acknowledging the capacities of computers in education, she writes,

“These capacities should be celebrated. But they should not be confused with the training provided by one mind interacting with another—when, for example, a teacher discerns what is on a student’s mind (even though the thought may be novel and half-formed).”

In my discussion-based courses at college, this kind of student-teacher interaction occurred regularly. When a student voices a thought but can’t quite explain it as well as they’d like, the teacher offers the right encouragement and pushes the student to greater understanding which then in turn benefits the entire class. A computer can’t necessarily replicate this golden moment, or the social experience of learning with in-person class discussion.

Head over to The Chronicle of Higher Education to read Hieronymi’s excellent commentary.