Personalizing, Self-supervising and Data-utilizing: How AI is Shaking Up the Classroom

Recently, we published an article focusing on how an intrinsic knowledge of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is critical to the technologically integrated world of tomorrow and aiming to help people understand what makes the technology special. However, what is talked of less is how this technology can be utilized to improve education within an often stagnated classroom environment: not simply furthering learning about AI, but furthering learning by applying AI.

Teaching Assistants

In an interview with Forbes, Edmentum’s executive Paul Johansen (whose company provides online learning programs for educators) spoke about how AI and automation can manage routine tasks to free up teachers’ limited time, as well as utilize data to help make more personalized educational recommendations for students, allowing teachers to individually cater to each pupil’s learning experience.

Employing AI could mean that teachers do not have to field every single question asked. Teachers and parents struggling to provide answers to inane questions regarding every element of life (such as my 8-year-old niece’s favorite attempt to perplex me ‘Why is the grass green?’) are already aided with voice assistant applications that can answer such queries. With these new, already available tools, rather than being held back by a sense of shyness regarding their knowledge, young students are free to ask as many questions as they wish without taking time and attention away from others in the class. In a similar way, AI is able to give reliable, efficient feedback on answers and exams far quicker than any teacher who may struggle when having to assess a classroom of potentially over 30 students.

AI therefore has the potential to remove enormous burdens from the shoulders of teachers and enable them to concentrate on providing more engaging and informative lesson plans and individual support at a human level.

Learning from One Another

Leaders in the field see the development of unsupervised learning as the next great frontier in the AI-aided learning revolution. Self-supervised AI is able to increase the personal attention that learning often requires: with the ability of unsupervised learning to adapt to the child’s needs, it can even set the lesson at a pace that suits the individual. This allows students the necessary time to grasp all elements of complex concepts, without a need to rush through elements in order to ensure a pre-planned lesson doesn’t stall. As we touched upon earlier, AI is able to give real-time feedback on various essays or tests, but with self-supervised learning incorporated, it can also deliver an individualized approach that is nearly impossible for a single teacher to provide to a class full of unique personalities with different styles of learning. AI is more perceptive in identifying gaps in knowledge and can gradually adapt to the specific needs of the individual student and become an integral part of their learning and development. This not only ensures the more rapid development of the class as a whole but also accelerates the development of each child by embracing what makes them special.

Technological and Societal Advancement

Perhaps most importantly of all, once ubiquitous, AI can help to bring a level of equality to education, which has been historically lacking. Before the advent of this technology, providing children with a resource that can be tailored to their individual learning needs could only be sought through private tutoring, which comes at a significant cost. Furthermore, state-provided ‘free’ schooling is often far more likely to feature overcrowded classrooms, meaning that teachers will have more questions to field, exams and essays to mark, and greater difficulty in providing lessons that can be equally engaging to all students. The ubiquitous equality brought forward by AI provides children with the personal attention that allows them to become the best version of themselves, rather than leaving the gift of education solely in the hands of increasingly overworked and underappreciated teaching staff.

AI’s inevitable rise across society is one that will help to streamline and enhance nearly every industry.  Bruce McLaren, President of the International Society for Artificial Intelligence in Education noted, “It’s the way the world is going and education will not be the exception to that”. A rising tide raises all ships, so while industry advances on the back of AI, the technology can equally bring about a revolution in how we nurture and grow human intelligence. 

Written by Stan Buckley, PR, Social Media Marketing and Marketing Communications intern at VIA and a Business Studies graduate from Lancaster University.

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