Does Technology Replace Trainers?

Original Blog Post:
by: M.S. Rao, Ph.D

Any training, any leadership development, if it is just relying on technology, and nothing about how, when you have somebody online, how you form communities offline, it is not going to work…If there is no offline interaction, mere online engagement is probably going to be a failure.” ― Former U.S. president Barack Obama

With increasing automation and artificial intelligence (AI), there is global apprehension that robots will replace humans and technology will replace teachers. With unprecedented growth in technology, there are drastic changes in teaching and training methodologies. Many passionate people learn in online courses. Does this indicate the end of classroom learning? Will educators be replaced by the internet?

Training involves critical thinking, knowledge and the ability to understand learners. Trainers observe the body language of learners and mold their teaching style accordingly, which cannot be emulated by robots. Robots can share information and knowledge. They cannot gauge human egos, emotions and feelings. At the most, learners can acquire knowledge online and become aware of basic concepts. The way human trainers offer human interaction, hands-on experiences and instant answers cannot be replicated by robotic instructors.

Hard Skills and Soft Skills

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” ― Martin Luther King, Jr.

Robotic tutors can teach hard skills but not soft skills. Automation can equip learners with tangible skills, not intangible skills like creativity, curiosity, critical thinking, empathy and emotional intelligence. How can robotic tutors impart soft skills to learners when human trainers find it challenging? Additionally, they cannot impart ethical values, such as compassion, gratitude, respect, fairness, generosity and fraternity. Robotic tutors can add value in few ways, but it is the human trainers who can add true value to society.

Teaching is Sanctum Sanctorum

It is trainers who can differentiate between information and knowledge. They can convert information into knowledge and show the right path to learners by walking their talk. Above all, training is the mother of all professions, and it continues to enjoy its sanctity as long as human civilization exists.

Technology Supplements, not Substitutes, Training

Engaged training is more effective than automated training. Learners want different strokes from time to time in the classroom, which is only possible through human trainers. At the same time, it is essential for trainers to wed technology with training to add value. They must reinvent their strategy with changing times and technologies to remain relevant. They must remember that what worked in the past may not work in the present, and what worked in the present may not work in the future. Hence, they must be adaptable, agile and active learners themselves.

When computers came, we feared they would replace blue-collar workers. Now that automation and AI have come, we fear they will replace white-collar workers. But there is no technology in the world that can replace the trainers.

September 16, 2018

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