Q&A with Professor Rose Luckin

Q&A  with Professor Rose Luckin

Q&A with Professor Rose Luckin

Professor Rose Luckin / Chair of Learner-Centered Design at the University College London Knowledge Lab.

Can you tell us about your general approach to learning and the thinking behind it?

I’ve become increasingly fascinated with the different ways we can use technology to support learning.

I struggled at school. I wasn’t a particularly successful learner despite being a professor now. I learned how to do well, but it wasn’t a smooth or easy ride. I went through some really tough times. This is what motivates me to help learners who struggle, to help them get recognition for the skills they have. I had a lot of resilience in overcoming problems, but there was no way to recognize that resilience; it’s not something you can be tested for on an exam.

Today, I use artificial intelligence mechanisms, techniques and tools to try to unlock the black box. I try to find ways for learners to show their unique skills, knowledge and abilities. This allows us to support them more effectively. Most importantly, given the way the work place is changing, it allows us to help them understand what they’re good at, what they need help with, where they’re excelling. Then, we can help them show people what they’re good at in ways we couldn’t do in the past.

I’m on a mission to do more of that, to open up what’s going on with learners so we can show the breadth of skills, experience and knowledge that every learner has.

When we are building a new learning environment, what are the most essential elements that should be there?

I think the most essential thing is to understand what the learning environment is trying to achieve. I work in artificial intelligence (AI), and a lot of people, when they think about AI, they immediately think about robots or deep learning or a particular sort of technology. But actually, the most important part of AI is identifying the problem that you are trying to solve and then unpicking and working out the solution. This happens before you even start thinking about the technology you might use.

I think the most important thing is to identify what we want from an education space. What kind of experience are we trying to create? Do we want to train people in a particular way? Do we want to open young minds to understand more about the world and how they can best interact with it? Once we’ve decided what we want to achieve, the next step is to work out the infrastructure for the data we’re going to collect as people learn. This is the core of using smart algorithms — to analyze the data and show people what they’re achieving.

The next step is to decide on the technologies we want to use in the data-capture process. We consider the kinds of engagements we can gain by augmented reality, virtual reality or haptic technologies. It’s important to keep in mind what we want to achieve, the data we must capture to show we’re achieving it. and to show people how they’re performing – teachers, learners and parents. At that point, we start thinking about the technologies we should start putting in place.

You mentioned three important stakeholders; can you expand on this?

Learners, teachers and parents are important, particularly parents with younger children. When children are teenaged, perhaps they don’t want their parents to be so engaged, but the parents are still an important influence. We need to think less in terms of a simple learner-teacher relationship, and more about learning spaces as ecologists of resources that include teachers, parents and students.  We need to use technology to bring the right people together at the right time.

A teacher with multiple learners in a class might be supported by an AI assistant.  I don’t mean a robot, it could be something invisible like Siri or Alexa — something in the background that helps support the teacher by highlighting what’s happening with particular learners as they are learning. For example, it might highlight whether there’s a dip in the positive emotions in the class, to remind a teacher about a child who’s having a particularly difficult time at home so the teacher can create a communication link with other stakeholders in that particularly individual’s life such as parents.

I don’t see a particular learner- teacher role, I see a group of resources that are available to solve the problem of educating individual students and helping them help themselves to continue their education, to continue learning throughout their lifetime.

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