Reflections on “Robot-Proofing” My Classes
I read a lot of science fiction (especially lately works by Liu Cixin and Ken Liu) and find it more and more difficult to discriminate between science fiction and science fact. I am especially interested in the fictional portrayal of artificial intelligence.
Last week I finished reading Joseph E. Aoun’s book Robot-Proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence. Many of the author’s key ideas were earlier shared by a colleague task force from the College of Arts and Sciences at the beginning of this semester. Below are two videos in the author’s own words.
I found his book (and our faculty discussions) thought-provoking but I reject the ideas that we must all emulate Northeastern University, cater our curriculum to what employers want, or necessarily embrace his “new learning model” of ‘humanics.’
Among the ideas in Aoun’s book and videos I find compelling are the following:
- Universities (and I would argue, the corporate world) need to teach, encourage, and provide opportunities life-long self-directed learning. This is a message which visionary and international thought leader Jane Hart, Director of the Centre for Modern Workplace Learning, has been preaching and teaching for the past decade.
- We need to educate people in ways that (presently!) cannot be imitated by networks of machines.
- There is a need for – and a place for technological literacy, data literacy, human literacy, critical thinking, systems thinking, entrepreneurship, and cultural agility in higher education – AND in the workplace,
- Experiential learning adds value to in-class learning experiences by encouraging going beyond acquisition and integration of skills and knowledge through application to novel, dynamic real-world situations (increasing the likelihood of ‘far transfer’).
- Universities need carefully to (re)consider ways in which alumni stay connected, develop loyalties, and define themselves as alumni.
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