Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Most Intrusive Technology of All Time

S. Krashen

The Pearson Publishing Company has suggested that technology not only be used to teach content, as in competency-based programs, but should, at the same time, evaluate students' emotional states (Luckin et. al., p. 25). This is without question the most intrusive idea I have ever seen, not only in education but anywhere.

Pearson provides no details about what aspects of emotion will be monitored, except for these hints: "For example, AIEd (artificial intelligence in education) will enable learning analytics to identify changes in learner confidence and motivation while learning a foreign language, say, or a tricky equation" (page 35) and "AIEd analysis might also identify if and when a student is confused, bored, or frustrated, to help teachers understand and enhance a learner’s emotional readiness for learning."

Pearson has assured us that with their programs, students can go at their own pace and use alternative learning styles: Thus, confusion, boredom and frustration should be nearly non-existent. But what if students do not display what Pearson thinks is the proper "emotional readiness for learning"? If students insist of being bored despite the brave new programs, or if their minds occasionally wander (which could mean that new ideas and understandings are "incubating"), will stimulants be administered? If students are confused and frustrated despite programmers' efforts, will anti-anxiety medication be given?

This is quite possible. Educational "reformers" have already demonstrated that they will stop at nothing to boost test scores and already engage in child abuse in doing so, turning schools into dry test-preparation factories (Horn, 2016).

Horn, J. 2016. Work Hard, Be Hard: Journeys Through "No Excuses" Teaching. Rowman & Littlefield.

Luckin, R., Holmes, W., Griffiths, M. and Forcier, L. 2016. Intelligence Unleashed: An Argument for AI in Education. London: Pearson.


  1. This sounds like the perfect recipe for encouraging blurters; the kind of students who speak before they think and who very quickly annoy everybody else in the group. Does this technology have any way of knowing whether what you are saying is an original thought, something that is half baked and regurgitated, or total goobledygook?

  2. Showing interest in and engagement with the emotional state of others is described well in Daniel Goleman's book 'Emotional intelligence'. Attributing negative intent to the positive intent of others based on limited information is generally seen as a failure of emotional intelligence. There's some irony here:)