Could artificial intelligence liberate teachers?
Talk to any group of teachers about the downsides of their job and you would find widespread agreement. Endless paperwork and bureaucracy that keeps professionals from doing their job is a source of great frustration. Talented people enter the profession to change lives on the other side of the school desk, pass on knowledge and inspire the next generation. They don't go through a challenging period of training to spend a large proportion of their time box-ticking.
Could artificial intelligence be the answer? Not if science fiction is anything to go by. AI is usually portrayed as cold, super-human and intent on menace. Robots are rarely pictured quietly taking care of administrative tasks. But that's just the future envisioned by the government and the education technology sector. The Department of Education's; 'Realising the potential of technology in education' report sees automation as taking care of the frequently frustrating audit trail releasing more hours for teaching.
Another school of thought is that AI can help teachers to keep students engaged. Ned Sahin CEO of Brain Power explains below.
Whatever your view - It' not just the crystal ball gazers in the education department who think the future is automated. A recent study by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that 1.5 million jobs in England are at high risk that some of their duties will be automated in the future. Teaching is one of the areas believed to be likely to see some input from artificial intelligence. Unlike some routine and manual professions, AI is unlikely to put teachers out of work. Instead, it's predicted that teachers will find some of their workload could potentially be automated. This should free up teachers to focus on more engaged, empathetic and interpretive work.
Personalised learning - AI is also tipped to enable learning to become more personalised. In the traditional didactic, whole-class approach everyone is taught the same thing at the same time. This doesn't reflect the way in which students learn. Not everyone starts and ends at the same point. Using AI, particularly for assessment, will enable teachers to understand how learners are progressing. They can then tailor the pace and type of learning so that every individual is challenged. Decisions will still lie with the teacher, and strategies will be based on discussions between the human educator and the student, but AI will sort out admin and allocation tasks.
It might at present seem unlikely, but so did many classroom innovations over the past few decades. Like it or not, artificial intelligence will be a part of our future.