Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Education

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What is AI in education?

You may have heard of Artificial Intelligence, or more specifically, Machine Learning. If not, it's basically the ability of computers to think, learn, and perform otherwise human tasks. What a lot of people don’t realize though is the impact it’s having on K12 classrooms as well as in Higher Education.  

Some people fear that AI might replace teachers and the need for people to instruct and teach children. However, many scientists envision a future where human instruction and AI technology work together to enhance children’s learning experiences and their educational environments. 

How is AI being used in education?

Right now, it seems that educators are just beginning to dip their toes into everything that AI offers. This was mostly made possible by the transition to at-home learning during the COVID pandemic. For example, some seniors that were graduating in Japan were able to participate in their graduation ceremony through an AI robot that was used to represent them. Additionally, some students have utilized virtual tutors who don’t just share information, or test knowledge, but adapts to the students’ style of learning. The truth is that not everyone learns the same way and oftentimes students are expected to learn and retain material the same way within a classroom setting.  

Microsoft HoloLens is a prime example of altering the ways that STEM skills are taught. This 3D reality program fully immerses students in the subject rather than just expecting students to learn information. Language is also a great opportunity for people to dive into AI-induced learning. For example, Ponddy, a San-Jose based start-up, personalizes language learning by teaching students' groups of similar words at the same time. This is done over a longer period to improve context and memory. They feel this is more efficient than jam-packed curriculums that use traditional tactics like breaking down vocabulary, grammar, and language structure. 

Another useful tool is ProJo. This two-foot- tall robot acts more like a class partner than a teacher.  ProJo makes similar math errors to students, essentially mirroring their common mistakes. Through this method, the robot works closely with students to help them identify and fix their own mistakes. 

Additionally, an AI-powered Presentation Coach in PowerPoint had been launched by Microsoft. This program records students while they present slides, offering immediate feedback on how presentations can be improved, by making suggestions on word usage and pacing. 

AI has also been implemented on various college campuses. One example is Voice recognition software, like Amazon Alexa. In 2017, Arizona State University gave 1,500 engineering freshmen living on campus an Amazon Echo Dot. With it, they could learn about services at school and sign up for courses. 

How AI is helpful to teachers

Aside from developing lesson plans and teaching students, there is so much more that goes into a teacher’s day-to-day tasks. Fortunately, AI platforms like Bakpax can help with duties like grading papers, reviewing homework, etc. This program in particular keeps tabs on students’ performance and offers immediate feedback and grades. This is a win-win because teachers save time and students get their grades back quicker than they normally would, allowing for faster adaptation.  

Artificial Intelligence can also assist teachers in implementing effective curriculums, as well as saving them additional time. It can also assist with assessing a student’s literacy, along with recognizing behavioral patterns and performance.

Concerns about AI in education

The subject of Artificial Intelligence sparks several concerns beyond just whether robots will replace teachers, leaving them unemployed. As we stated above, this doesn’t need to be the case. Robots and AI don’t necessarily seek to replace teachers, but instead can assist people in these professions, save them time, and assist with guiding students on the path to more effective learning. 

Other common concerns are design and ethical conflicts, such as ease of use, inclusivity, and data usage. Everyone involved will need to learn how to adequately correct algorithm issues, programs will need to be sensitive to local demographics, and power dynamics between teachers, AI agents, and students will need to be considered. Furthermore, some parents and students worry about what types of information will be gathered about students and whether this could be invasive and unsafe. 

Artificial Intelligence has already made its way into the classroom and on college campuses but it’s evident that the possibilities for Artificial Intelligence in Education haven’t quite been exhausted yet. It’s likely that AI-Inspired tweaks to learning will continue to make their way to classrooms worldwide.  

We hope this article helped you to better understand how artificial intelligence in the classroom can benefit students and teachers, as well as what some of the common concerns regarding this trend are. 

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