Artificial intelligence has taken the world by storm in recent years, revolutionizing global industries and making their operations much more efficient and effective. One area in which artificial intelligence has shown a great deal of potential is education. But with the use of AI in education being a novel application, some have wondered whether the benefits of the technology outweigh the risks.
Understandably, some are hesitant to use artificial intelligence in the classroom, believing that humanity is an essential part of the education system. And, to an extent, they are right.
However, artificial intelligence should not be considered a replacement teacher, but rather another valuable tool in a teacher’s arsenal alongside computers, the internet, smart boards, and other tools that make the teacher’s job easier. Once we re-approach this idea of artificial intelligence in the classroom — not as a replacement but as an aid — we will begin to understand the positive impact it could have on students.
The potential role of AI in the classroom
Implementing AI in the classroom allows students to have a more personalized educational experience. An artificial intelligence program can collect data on a student’s learning needs and preferences, which can then be used to adjust the pace and content of lessons to match their unique needs. As a result, students can become much more engaged with their lessons, which can help improve student retention and graduation rates.
Still, it is also important to note that the overuse of AI in education can contribute to learning gaps. Ensuring students have complete clarity in understanding how an AI came to a solution is vital in a personalized learning scenario. AI tools like chatbots can be extremely powerful for one to venture down a learning rabbit hole but without transparency built in, it can be a detriment.
Although the personalization of instruction has several significant benefits, adjusting the pace or content of a lesson by too much can also put a student significantly behind their peers. Certain standards must be met in education, and slowing a student’s pace down too far or changing the content too much could leave them unable to meet these standards. Keeping this in mind, artificial intelligence is best used as a supplemental tool to aid students in their learning process.
Indeed, as a supplemental tool, AI can automate certain tasks in education, freeing up teachers’ time for more critical tasks. Using AI for purposes like scheduling, communication, grading papers, and lesson planning allows teachers to dedicate more time to imparting the content to students. Artificial intelligence can also be used for exercises like review activities and examinations to reinforce learning and ensure students retain the information they need to succeed.
Challenges to adopting AI in the classroom
However, given that the public school system is already significantly underfunded, the cost of investing in artificial intelligence has proven a significant barrier to entry. Beyond the initial costs of the hardware and software, there are also costs to incorporate AI in education and other existing education systems, such as additional staff training and technological support, which present an extensive obstacle for many educational institutions.
Additionally, the AI resources that are currently used for student engagement were not explicitly designed for students — they were created more broadly and, today, are being leveraged mainly by the corporate world. Although these tools have some utility for students, it is essential to recognize that the needs of young learners are entirely different from the needs of adults learning in a job training environment. For many educational institutions, the costs of these tools can be frustrating when combined with the fact that they are not specifically designed for students.
Although some critics have feared that AI would replace educators in the classroom, the truth is that the technology has simply not reached a point where it is a perfect replacement for a human teacher or educator — and likely never will. Empathy is a crucial facet of teaching, which AI inherently does not exhibit. Although artificial intelligence can analyze data about student performance to maximize educational efficiency, there is little comparison to the understanding a teacher gets from visibly seeing their students’ reactions.
Using AI in education effectively
At this point, the step that needs to be taken is to inform educators of how to properly and responsibly implement and utilize AI in education. Rather than limiting the use of artificial intelligence in the classroom, empower teachers to use the tools to aid their students’ educational process.
Nearly every technological advancement in the educational field has been met with hesitance — even computers and the internet. AI is no different. Widespread adoption will just take time for educators to understand AI’s implications for improving the classroom experience.
In discussing the use of AI in education, it is important to move away from the idea of artificial intelligence as a replacement for teachers and move towards embracing it as something that can help improve the educational experience for students and teachers. As the technology continues to develop, we will see more ways that this technology can be used to benefit students and allow it to be embraced on a broader scale.