When I was in Grade 1, the teacher asked my mother to come in for a meeting with her, telling my mom I was spelling my name backward, (i.e., “YUG”). Together with a left-hand writing hook, this led to me taking special lessons from a one-armed teacher. The point of this article is many of us learn differently, and it’s time to create a new learning system.
I Was Lucky
My parents had resources, the teacher recognized my learning difficulty, and I was the lucky recipient of special teaching and attention. Many aren’t.
When I begin to tell others about different ways of learning, I’m always taken back to a friend’s daughter, who we drove to school with our kids, every day, many years ago. She learned best by smell. The existing school system wasn’t able to understand her abilities, create an individualized education plan for her, and cost-effectively deliver it. Thus, she had to learn differently.
I was a good student. However, looking back, I recall many of my former classmates who didn’t easily learn by books or watching/listening to a teacher at the front. They, in turn, were labeled by us kids as dummies, slow learners, etc. I suspect it scarred them for their lives.
It Also Typically Didn’t Work For “Smart” Kids
Kids who have high IQs also tend to struggle. They’re bored in classrooms, etc. These kids either act out, drop out, or a few get lucky, falling into challenge programs.
My Point: It’s Time To Rethink Learning Programs
Several years ago, I went out for a coffee with the retired superintendent of our school district. I told him we had failed. He looked at me like I was a dummy, stating the numerous projects we had successfully worked on, asking me why I would say such a thing?
I told him about my first day of school. My mom walked me to school, where I was in a class with about 25 other kids, with a teacher I didn’t know. More importantly, she didn’t know about me. Right from the get-go, the system begins to process students without understanding them. Many succeed, while others fall off the conveyor belt wagon based on time.
He asked me what I was thinking? I told him before a student ever walks into any classroom, they need to go through an in-depth assessment. This includes motor skills, sight, hearing, speech, hand-eye coordination, ability to learn, ability to work with others, aptitudes, etc. From this, an individualized education plan would be created for each student.
At the time, I couldn’t yet see how all this would work. I told my friend I’d keep working on identity since any new learning system would require this.
Fast Forward To Today
Earlier this year, while doing research for a thought paper “Digital Twins/Virtual Selves, Identity, Security & Death,” I learned about the work being done in Europe to create medical digital twins. The light bulb went off in my head, realizing the technology is just emerging to model a person’s learning.
If you wade through the paper, you’ll see me proposing the creation of a “digital learning twin.” You’ll also see me referencing a academic paper from the 90’s about modeling students.
Bots In The Classroom, Students, Identities, Et Al
This led me to write a series of LinkedIn posts about my ideas:
- Digital Identities, Students & Privacy 
- Bots in the Classroom 
- Using AI/Digital Learning Twins in Assessment & Education 
- Bots in the Classroom & Home – Security, Identity, Consent, and Privacy 
Break It Down Into Small Chunks
I’m a practical, strategic/tactical, old guy (pun intended), who likes to take large complex projects and successfully assemble teams to deliver them. Thus, as stated in the “Using AI”/Digital Learning Twins in Assessment & Education,” rather than try to slay the digital twin learning with lots of computing, my approach is to do it in small chunks.
The starting point is the initial assessment. The post lays out how by incrementally working our way to this, we can automate this and deploy it in child care centers when the student is an infant. Then, work toward leveraging both physical and virtual bots in the home, changing the learning system.
I’ve since prepared high-level staff budgets to do this. I need help from other experts in determining the computing costs, which will be large, and developing bots to meet the requirements.
Poor People On The Planet
I’ve had an intuitive idea that won’t leave me. It’s telling me to first focus on doing the above in places on the planet where people are very poor, don’t have resources, lack of teachers, etc. There are many, many challenges in realizing this in places where there’s a lack of electricity, internet access, clean conditions, etc.
So, when I think of this, part of me is saying “Guy, this is VERY challenging to do,” while the other part is saying, “Put it out there and find like-minded souls who want to incrementally work on this with me.”
Which Is Why I Wrote This Article
If what I’ve stated above resonates within you, then here’s my simple request to you. Please pass along this article to others who you think might be interested.
With humble thanks, YUG (Guy Huntington)