What Is AI And It’s Impact On Schools

Is Artificial Intelligence in classrooms really a threat to the teachers?

Technology has always played an important role in improving the role of education across the globe. Although a major chunk of the education sector still relies on the basic curriculum based teachings and limited resources, technology has offered a high feasibility, agility and customization that were otherwise not possible in this particular sector. It is the intervention of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the field of education.

With the evolution of technology, conventional classes are now turning into smart classes with mini projectors, digital boards and smart conference rooms. This has enabled the students to grasp the knowledge being shared, even by sitting diversely. With new learning pedagogies and methods AI is believed to remediate the students from monotonous classroom learning sessions. With sophisticated tools being used to teach and practice new learning methods, AI is simply taking a shift from boring classrooms to smart class rooms with modern aids such as mini projectors, wearable devices and seamlessly connected conference rooms.

Intervention of AI

This intervention of AI has infused a panic among some teachers as they fear that they might end up in a position where their jobs are endangered due to these smart technologies.

Although it is true that post the implementation of AI, the roles of teachers may change but leveraging the full benefits of the technology might also positively transform the education process which would require reimagining the roles they are currently playing in their areas of expertise.

Effective AI usage would instead free up the educators from doing their monotonous function of ambiguity dealing, judgement and abstract thinking. Currently AI offers help to explore, collect and analyse the big data available, and is being utilized to assist its human counterpart in decision making and automation of tasks.

As AI is becoming omnipresent, certain misconceptions regarding its capability is also pouring in i.e. regarding its role in the future of the planet and mankind. Currently it is being leveraged across a myriad of industries ranging from eLearning, healthcare, and agriculture to engineering, civil and defence. These verticals are constantly competing against each other to harness the power of this technology to liquefy their ethical limitations and challenges. Education is just a newcomer and has recently started responding to the opportunities and challenges posed by this revolutionary technology.

The teachers need to realize the potential of AI as it offers a lot of opportunities and possibilities of strengthening the backbone of educational infrastructure. It thus becomes necessary for teachers to build a concrete understanding of the concepts offered by the technology, the characteristics, its legal implications and its impact in the field of education.

Defining Artificial Intelligence

It is simply the umbrella term that refers to any machine or computer based application that utilizes a human-like thinking approach to fulfil a requirement. The requirement may include planning, learning, recognition of patterns, logical reasoning, understanding and problem solving techniques. At times, the definition can also be relaxed to imagination and creativity. So, every time a machine or a program displays similar traits, we can consider them as a part of the AI technology, which also means that the current definition has the potential to change with respect to our understanding regarding human intelligence and thinking approaches. So, in order to glide through its impacts on education let’s look at some of the ways in which Artificial Intelligence would be helping the modern day classrooms:

#1 Intelligent tutoring systems

ITS or Intelligent Tutoring Systems are simulations for home tutoring. It is considered as an effective form of knowledge sharing through technology. These systems are assumed to possess deep knowledge of the domain they are being implemented and work with effective tutoring strategies.

These tutors are expected to resolve their students’ issues by personalizing and delivering learning activities to fulfil the requirements of the students and match their needs. It offers immediate help to students who are stuck at various problem-solving levels.

Several researches done across the globe show that often students fail to utilize their human tutors as they rarely ask a question or raise a concern. In some cases, human tutors were found to be incompetent at diagnosing the students, about clarifying their concepts or personalizing their learning sessions. With intelligent systems on the move new learning pedagogies and strategies are coming into effect, which are engaging the students with an improved approach and helping them to build their skills. The ITS are characterized by the following: 

    • A model where unique pedagogical models are stored
    • An expert system where deep domain knowledge is kept.
    • A learning interface to communicate with the user at a personal level through written language or NLP (Natural Language Processing)

#2 Smart learning environments, classrooms & schools

With the rapid evolution of internet and technology, we are all connected by the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT), a term that describes the boundless connectivity and increasing capacity of everyday items to connect to the internet and other similar ‘things’ (devices). The IoT ranges from wearable products, kindles and smart home systems to smart travel options, smart cities, smart learning environments and more such entities that offer digital quality assurance and seamless connectivity.

This rise in the connectivity of smartphones with other omnipresent computer devices has given birth to smart classrooms and schools, which have effectively leveraged the essence of IoT. Logically speaking, the rise of smart schools has paved the way for IoT sensors and technologies to evolve further and make significant progress through its development. The data that is being tracked, captured, analysed and transmitted through these devices is now used to provide concrete inputs to the AI based systems.

#3 Improved collaboration between Teachers & Systems

AI based systems would never be able to replace teachers from the classrooms be it online courses or even eLearning sessions. It’s imperative that even online classes are heavily dependent on the experience of the guide who is supervising the class. Instead, AI has proved to be a more valuable tool for such sessions. The machines are now being leveraged by the teachers to offer deeper insights related to subjects and lesson plans. They are also utilizing the AI systems to plan which students need personalized attention and execute their administrative tasks easily.

AI also has the capability to detect the voice tone of the child and then alerts the concerned teacher that whether that particular child is frustrated, angry or is in a state of fear. It thus provides direct insights related to the emotional state of the children and informs the concerned authority to take appropriate steps, thus helping them to respond timely and accurately.

The Impact of AI on teaching

We are not saying that the technology is perfect, instead with the current popularity its several components are being tested to ensure proper functioning as required. For e.g. before integrating AI with eLearning applications, authorities make sure that the apps are gruelled through a comprehensive eLearning testing suite, which authenticates the functioning of the app as expected.

Also, when we think of the impact that AI will create on education and classroom teaching we only think of it in its current educational context, as how easily we would be able to automate the tasks that used to be cumbersome in the past. Instead, we should be more concerned about the implications and the changes that it can bring with reference to the future of learning, education and teaching.

The current batch of applications available in the industry are only utilizing machine learning and the real-time data integration which is resulting in big-data. But is that the only effectiveness that AI is offering? No, instead we should be more focussed on the broader aspects of the technology such as utilizing practical intelligence to build a strong emotional connection that really drives the students’ performance in a positive direction.

It is thus obvious that AI would never be able to replace the teachers from the classrooms, instead, those who opt-in for a collaboration would benefit multi-directionally. Until then, this reactive technology based platform will continue to respond seamlessly to students, not only due to their performance but also for their emotional state, confidence and much more. The technology will continue to co-exist with its human counterpart.

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