For many years, the American public thought of artificial intelligence, or AI, as some big, incredibly complex computer program that would one day achieve sentience and turn on humanity like a James Cameron conceived summer blockbuster.
While movie franchises starring angry AI creations turning on their creators continue to do well at the box office, artificial intelligence has made its way into the modern American household.
From algorithms on Amazon that suggest what we might want to read next to Siri and Alexa answering our questions to cars that understand traffic patterns and very soon might be driving us to work, artificial intelligence is rapidly disrupting industries. Education is no different.
While there has been a great fear for a number of years that robots will replace workers across industries, this has largely not been born out. While robots powered by AI can often replace workers at some of the most menial, automated tasks in a factory, workers are often needed in more specialized capacities to repair, maintain, and respond to alarms that these robotic workers generate.
Teachers and the education industry as a whole seem to look at artificial intelligence with the same wary eye. In fact, the ways in which artificial intelligence can, and already is, disrupting education has the potential to remove menial, tiresome tasks from a teacher’s plate, and allow them to return to the creative tasks that brought them into the field in the first place.
These are just a few of the ways that AI is making a difference in the educational sphere.
1. Tutoring based on specific needs and patterns
Many students benefit from tutoring at certain points in their educational career, but tutoring is often expensive, or provided by peers. This can make it inaccessible to those who need it most.
Artificial intelligence programs can use patterns, strategies, and algorithms to identify where the student’s understanding is breaking down and identify strategies and learning methods that work best for them.
This helps teachers know how to target tutoring or additional instruction to get the student up to speed. This can take the form of both tutoring for classes in school and assistance in studying for state and national testing, such as what is provided by USATestprep.
2. Grading and record keeping
One of the most menial and time consuming tasks for teachers is grading and record keeping. This is an area where artificial intelligence shines. Simple homework can be easily assessed and recorded, and basic record keeping can be managed to help teachers get back into the classroom.
AI can also provide feedback to both students and teachers if a student has a particular pattern of missing work or tardiness in the classroom. This can provide targeted strategies to help the student improve, or identify problems that might otherwise be missed.
3. Moderating group projects
Teachers generally agree that well moderated group projects can be hugely beneficial to students, adding collaboration and shared work ethic to their learning experience while increasing the level of project or presentation that can be compiled.
Moderating these projects, however, can be very complicated. By moving group projects online and then using AI to moderate and even participate in group discussions, teachers can assign and observe many more collaborative projects than they could otherwise do.
4. Determine quality of online lessons
With the demands of modern living and the cost of education, more and more learners are turning to online programs to help them get an education and improve their financial well being while also meeting the demands of being a parent or holding down a job or two. Night classes or classes while their children are in school aren’t always possible, but online courses can fill in those gaps.
Not all online programs, however, are created equal. Assessing the quality of online education, or even a single online course within a college program, is incredibly difficult without being a student in the program.
AI, however, has the potential to change entire industries, providing good information both to the overall school and to regulatory bodies to make sure that students are getting their money’s worth. With increasing focus on higher education and its funding, being able to demonstrate that students get a benefit from a school can be key to the school’s survival.
Artificial intelligence is a part of the modern world, and will continue to disrupt technologies as it expands and becomes both less expensive and easier for less experienced IT staff to interpret and use. Industries will see the effects of AI on their organizations and institutions, so adjusting to artificial intelligence is less a matter of if, and more a question of when. Education is not, and will not be, exempt from these disruptions.