Can computers replace teachers?

aat comment

Modern technology is already complementing more traditional teaching methods thanks to AAT’s e-learning materials. But can computers replace teachers altogether? AAT Comment asks two experts with very different views


Neil Montgomery
AAT programme manager at Bridgwater College, Somerset

I hate the idea of teaching going purely online. I have a 100% pass rate on my course, and I put a large part of this down to the personal contact that my pupils receive.

Teaching is about a relationship; because these people are in front of me I can spot who is struggling and give them extra support.

I think it helps people to learn if they are coming into an environment where they are meeting likeminded people. Some might not feel confident when they start the course, but, as the class gets to know each other, they give each other support in their learning.

I have had students who, due to personal circumstances, have had to leave the course and teach themselves. They didn’t like it. You have to take a huge amount of responsibility for your own learning, which doesn’t suit everyone.

One of my lecturers is a great character and he manages to consistently engage and stimulate his pupils. If it is not the jokes you make as a teacher, then it is often the stories you can tell about your previous life as an accounting professional that will shed light on the wider picture – what the learning is actually leading to.


Prue Deane
Director of online training provider, Accountancy Learning

I don’t think there’s any need for classroom learning any more. Whether or not all education providers will eventually switch to computer-based learning, I don’t know, but I am sure there will continue to be a trend towards it.

Employers are more reluctant to let their staff out of the office – it can be expensive to let them go for a whole day, especially if they are out in the sticks and they are paying transport costs. This drop-off has been mirrored by a rise in learning from home via online programmes.

The fact that online materials are available at all times is crucial. With taught courses, everything revolves around the days you are in class, but online learning is flexible. It helps massively if you are fitting it around a job and find it difficult to get to a particular class at a particular time.

But we still believe that human contact is important. We have staff available four evenings a week to help those doing day jobs who get stuck during their evening learning. We keep records of our contact with students, and if we haven’t spoken to them for a while we contact them to make sure they are okay.

We let them tell us how often they want contact and we fit that in around their needs.

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This is an abridged version of a feature article from the latest issue of Accounting Technician, AAT’s membership magazine. You can view the full article online (AAT members only).

AAT Comment offers news and opinion on the world of business and finance from the Association of Accounting Technicians.

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