What would a transhuman education look like? #edcmooc

This week (week 4) the Sydney edcmooc study group has decided to reflect on one of the questions Jeremy posed in his introductory video – what would a transhuman education look like?

The obvious thing that springs to mind for me is some kind of memory implant for students – a la the Matrix ‘I know kung fu’. A quick google search shows that this idea is not as far-fetched as it seems, with scientists already working on memory restoration, and another saying to ‘check back in a couple of hundred years’ for the full Matrix learning experience.

And what kind of brain implants or enhancements might an educator want? How about some kind of vision that allows them to see students’ thought processes, and difficulties with the topic? (I once saw a video ‘abstract’ of a paper on this – not an implant, but some kind of visualisation tool for educators, but of course I can’t find it now). And what of the ethical issues associated with this?

If I was able to select one type of ‘brain implant’ for myself, it would be something that helps remind me of people’s names 🙂

5 thoughts on “What would a transhuman education look like? #edcmooc

  1. Sue

    I agree Amani. I would particularly like to have vocab implanted for foreign languages so that I only had to learn the syntax and grammatical structures.

    Enhancements to help deal with the increasing amounts of information would be very welcome.

    A transhuman education might enable us to load subject content into our memories more quickly and retain it for longer so that we can get to work on the problem-solving, synthesis and combining into new knowledge more quickly. That would be amazing as sometimes I look at all the books I have read and wonder what I have retained. In truth I have retained concepts and developed skills but it would be wonderful to be able to easily recall the facts and references to back up my ideas.

    Knowing body skills like Kung Fu or playing a musical instrument is in another realm altogether because the muscle memory and conditioning is built up over years.


  2. Noelle

    Interesting post, Amani. I was at a presentation a while ago that showed us how Google Glass could be used in the classroom, to help the teacher “see” which students were having trouble on their iPad-based multiple choice questions. He could see the students, as always, but through the Glass each student either had a green check or a red x above him or her. Fascinating. Slightly creepy. Possibly efficient.


    1. amanibell Post author

      Thanks Noelle, I think that’s that one I was referring to. Yes it is indeed slightly creepy. What’s next, educators monitoring students’ brain activity?

      Sue, I’m loving your suggested enhancements. The vocab one would be fantastic!


  3. Jo Lockwood

    The book I’m currently reading, David Brin’s ‘Existence’, has given me some great insights into where we can go as tech enhanced humans – and it’s really quite exciting.
    He employs the concept of a ‘smart mob’ where anyone can draw on a massive group for assistance. Thousands of people/experts etc. work together to solve problems, move on social issues etc. They use virtual glasses (or implants if they have gone that far) to draw on all available knowledge as well as their own expertise, then communicate facts, opinions on the situation to the mob. All the comments, information etc. being fed into the discussion are then collated and a running ‘consensus’ informs the human who has initiated the query. One example in the book is where a journalist is in a blimp that is about to explode and she draws on the group’s knowledge to save the situation.

    Now, that’s collaborative learning on authentic tasks! As ‘transhumans’ we will be able to draw easily on knowledge bases so we won’t need to spend too much time on accumulating the basics. Learning will have to shift to critical analysis, synthesis and all the higher order learning activities. And, it won’t be good enough to just grab bits of information or even ideas from the net as the students are doing in ‘The bridge’. Those students need to deconstruct each part of the puzzle to discover how why it works before they apply it creatively to a new situation. Teachers will need to be very creative in their lesson designs to guide students through the learning process, support the knowledge deconstruction, provide samples at all skill levels.

    In ‘Existence’ Brin often mentions that humans are still smarter than the ais due to their fuzzy logic capabilities – to be creative, make unpredictable connections etc. Hopefully, the classrooms of the future will focus time and energy on maximising human potential and move away from spoon-feeding facts.


    1. Sue

      I can feel some science fiction reading approaching during the summer holidays!

      Jo, the smart mob is an interesting utopian vision and not such a leap from the way we are currently using social media platforms like Twitter – just a greatly enhanced version. I guess the dystopian counterpart is Star Trek’s Borg where individuals have ceased to make autonomous ethical decisions but follow the dictates of the mob (ultimately controlled by the political apex).

      Your idea about being sure about the knowledge foundations when solving problems was exactly what I was alluding to in my earlier post in this thread. It would be wonderful to be able to quickly take the argument / solution / synthesis being proposed back to its premises to check those.

      Can you imagine the fallout when humans discover that AIs are equal to them when fuzzy logic gets incorporated? It will be similar to humans finding out that Earth was not at the centre of the heavenly spheres!!



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