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U. S. economist, local tycoon cross swords over education

2012/05/31 11:14:41

Taipei, May 31 (CNA) A visiting economist from the United States and a local tycoon, both of whom attended a forum organized by the Taipei-based magazine Global Views Monthly, crossed swords Wednesday over the relationship between education and technology.

Lawrence Summers, a former U.S. treasury secretary, said that the development of technology is beneficial to promoting education.

"Things change less by something old being changed than by something new coming along," he said.

Students can post problems and get answers on the Internet, as well as carry out customized drilling and rote memorization via their tablet computers, according to Summers.

With advanced technology, education can become more effective and efficient, as people can learn at lower cost and on a bigger scale, he said.

"We can have much more cooperation in thinking about the world's educational technology in strengthening education everywhere," he went on.

However, Morris Chang, chairman and CEO of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., contended that people should not put too much faith in technology in education.

"The two most important technologies of education were invented many years ago, and they were chalk and the blackboard," said Chang.

Reading the New York Times via tablets and e-books is no more efficient than reading the hard copies, according to Chang.

Online open courses can help to an extent, but the basic problems are not in technology, Chang said, adding that technology plays a role in education, but does not help education itself.

Meanwhile, Nelson Chang, chairman of the Taipei-based Chia Hsin Cement Corp., said that technology does influence the way people look for answers.

He pointed out that when he asks people from the older generations a difficult question, they need to actually think, while the younger generations simply take out their smartphones and google the answer, he said.

(By James Lee)