Over the past few months, ISN’s computer science teacher, Fabien Duncan, with the help of Johann Soyez, has been working on developing a robotics club with a very enthusiastic group of students during the after-school activities. I know that quite a few of you have dropped by to see what they have been up to, and it is truly impressive.
In May, they will be competing for the first time in the Pobot Junior Cup in Valbonne. If you have not yet had a chance to see the exciting work that the club has been doing, take time to drop by after school on a Thursday afternoon to see what it is all about.
For those of you who think that education might soon be taken over by robots, think again. As Priya Lakhani, founder and CEO of CENTURY Tec, states, “There is no serious desire to replace human teachers, whose brilliance, empathy and understanding could never be even closely matched by an android. The human connection between pupil and teacher is irreplaceable, a view shared by governments, technologists, schools, parents and children alike” (https://consiliumeducation.com/itm/2019/03/25/robots-in-the-classroom). This affective side of education is why it is so important for ISN as a school to have the best prepared (and empathetic) teachers possible in the classroom, interacting with your children and helping them to enjoy the learning process.
At the same time, used properly, technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be a great asset to the learning process. For quite a few years now AI has been put to good use in computer-based adaptive testing, where the examination questions are adapted in real time according to the responses that each student gives on the computer. As Lakhani notes, “The AI knows if you’re guessing, hesitating or skipping, giving the teacher greater insights into how their students are performing and allowing them to intervene with precision.” For students who are learning English as an additional language, an example of how this is put to good use can be seen in the iPod and phone application English Grammar in Use, produced by Cambridge University Press. Based upon the users’ responses, the application will propose increasingly difficult questions, rather than wasting their time with things that they already know. Many of the examination boards, including the IB, are moving to online examinations, and it will not be too long before this will be the norm. The importance of the role of the teachers in the process, however, will nevertheless remain paramount.
As we begin the midterm break, I would like to wish all of you an enjoyable and relaxing time with family and friends. For the Grade 10 and 12 students preparing for your exams, hang in there and keep your concentration. The end of the tunnel is almost in sight!
All the best,
Mr. Johnson, ISN Director