Monday, February 14, 2011
Marginal Rate of Substitution in Education
Will computers replace teachers in the classroom? I think that as computers develop computers will be substituted for teachers to the point where the marginal rate of substitution is 1.
At first, when there are lots of teachers and few computers, a school district might give up 5 teachers to obtain 1 computer as shown in the graph. As teachers become scarce, a school might only be willing to give up 3 computers to obtain one more computer. So the rate of substitution is diminishing.
I can't believe that all teachers are the same as the model assumes, but in our school district, computers are substituted for textbooks, CDs and DVDs, and YouTube and iTunes U are used for instruction. I "teach" an online class in logistics where all I do is facilitate instruction. I understand the Phoenix University is the largest in the United States. Here is a list of the top 10 online universities. Of course, MIT and Yale offer many of their classes for free in open course ware.
As more and more instruction is digitized, computer instruction will replace teachers until the balance is 1. Is it any wonder why students do not want to enter the teaching field any more?