Giving Compass’ Take:
• Caroline Preston explains that educator hesitance, limited scale, and technological limitations make it unlikely that AI will fundamentally transform education.
• How can funders help districts and educators sort through the edtech options available to them?
• Read about prioritizing transformation over tech in education.
For all the talk about how artificial intelligence could transform what happens in the classroom, AI hasn’t yet lived up the hype.
AI involves creating computer systems that can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence. It’s already being experimented with to help automate grading, tailor lessons to students’ individual needs and assist English language learners.
We heard about a few promising ideas at a conference I attended last week on artificial intelligence hosted by Teachers College, Columbia University.
Shipeng Li, corporate vice president of iFLYTEK, talked about how the Chinese company is working to increase teachers’ efficiency by individualizing homework assignments. Class time can be spent on the problems that are tripping up the largest numbers of students, and young people can use their homework to focus on their particular weaknesses. Margaret Price, a principal design strategist with Microsoft, mentioned a PowerPoint plug-in that provides subtitles in students’ native languages – useful for a teacher leading a class filled with young people from many different places. Sandra Okita, an associate professor at Teachers College, talked about how AI could be used to detect over time why certain groups of learners are succeeding or failing.
But none of these artificial intelligence applications are particularly wide-reaching yet, the transformation of “every aspect of the traditional learning environment” which will “usher in a bold new era of human history” that promoters have imagined.
There is also plenty of reason to worry about what might happen as tech developers accelerate efforts to bring artificial intelligence into classrooms and onto campuses.
Paulo Blikstein, an associate professor at Teachers College, drew laughs by talking about Silicon Valley’s public relations coup in getting us so excited about technology’s promise that we happily parted with our private data, only to learn much later of the costs. A handful of tech CEOs “caused enormous harm to our society,” he said. “I don’t want that to happen in education yet again.”
Read the full article about AI and education by Caroline Preston at The Hechinger Report.
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