08 Aug 2018

AI and Education

When first starting to think of the implications of large-scale Artificial Intelligence (AI), it is impossible to escape the conversation of ethics. Nearly 70 years ago, science fiction writers like Philip K. Dick and Isaac Asimov imagined worlds where AI was fully integrated within human society and, even in their tales of fantasy, they felt the need or desire to address ethical concerns.

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By Jeremy Shulman, Chief Editor of Subscriptions and Product at InterActive Pro.

Certainly, we’ll need to decide how much AI can and should assist us in blazing new frontiers, how far we should push forward in building self-learning machines, and to what degree we should control these processes and how to put those control measures in place. And, should any creation of our making gain true sentience, discussions surrounding the definition of slavery and AI rights must be held.
However, since we’re not quite there yet, let’s consider some of the more practical concerns of the moment within the realm of education.

AI and Differentiation

Where this falls most in line with current need is in terms of differentiation of instruction. AI has the capability to truly enhance online learning by learning about individual student. Through user profiles, progress can be tracked and programmes can adjust difficulty levels accordingly. Assuming the design of these programmes accounts for multiple tracks of learning based on performance, AI can easily find the best way to track students. And, looking further into the future, AI can design curricula for students based on their individual strengths, weaknesses, and assessed needs.


AI and Teaching

The fear amongst the teaching community is that technology might eventually replace people. That is, AI could make teachers obsolete. While we are not quite at this stage, it is clear that AI can likely do much of what teachers do, and on a more complex level than most. Accounting for a variety of learning styles, disabilities, and skill levels, AI could one day design and deliver lessons that are relevant to every student. In fact, aside of socialisation concerns, this level of instruction could be delivered separately instead of to whole classrooms. Though this may come later, right now AI can work in tandem with teachers to design and deliver lessons, informing instruction and further improving educational processes.


AI and Vocational Training

There has been a decrease in the number of skilled workers entering traditional vocational fields in the last decade or so. This has become noticeable because each year the gap between expected workers and actual apprenticeships is widening. However, what is somewhat clear is that automation and, in some cases, AI has taken over this work. Assembly lines now employ more machinery than ever and computers are now regularly able to execute complex tasks that require precision. Though, where AI will likely further influence these fields is in its use outside of manufacturing, to include building, plumbing, and a variety of other complex jobs. In fact, AI is already being utilised by people in these industries, so it might not be long until it is primed to replace these workers entirely.
What is interesting is the ways in which the tales of science fiction have, in part, been realised in our modern times. And, while the fear is a dystopian future in which AI eventually overruns the human race, what is more likely is that AI and humans can and will work hand-in-hand to improve our world and how we operate within the field of education.


About the Author

Jeremy Shulman is the Chief Editor of Subscriptions and Product at InterActive Pro. He manages the production of educational content for a variety of partners and programmes. Jeremy holds a Master’s Degree in Education from New York City's Lehman College. Additionally, he has 10 years of experience as a former high school teacher in the United States.



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