Can We Teach Computers to Teach?


E. Mazur. 1991. “Can We Teach Computers to Teach?” In Computers in Physics, 5: Pp. 31–38. Publisher's Version


The computer has become a mandatory tool in academia and business. A walk around a university campus is likely to show that there are as many computers as there are students, faculty and staff. Outside the campus many of our daily activities have to do with computers: banking, reservations, check-out registers at supermarkets, not to mention all the computer-generated mail we receive every day.Surprisingly, in education the computer is still not a very much appreciated newcomer. One reason for this is that until not so long ago computers were text-oriented, accepting only commands in the forms of words. Such "educational" software usually emulated multiple-choice exams. Naturally, such programs could not keep anyone's attention very long. Another reason for the small inroads computers have made in education is that computers usually excel at doing routine tasks while education normally is all but routine. I don't think computers will replace teachers, but I am confident, however, that computers will play an important role in improving teaching. To illustrate this I will discuss several projects pertaining to computers in education in which I am involved, which, naturally, are in my own discipline, physics.
Last updated on 07/24/2019