Could Artificial Intelligence Be The Saving Grace Of Teachers?
Education is a traditional industry. Apart from the inclusion of ICT lessons and PowerPoint presentations replacing chalkboards, it has largely remained unaffected by technological advancements.
Technology has been changing and evolving so many industries, and just because education has managed to avoid the technology takeover, it could still do with a bit of improvement. Could artificial Intelligence be utilised in schools to improve the current problems within the education system?
Oversubscribed classrooms with overworked teachers; a common problem in UK schools with an average ratio of 1:30 teacher to child. But what happens if a student needs extra support, but the teacher isn’t available to give it? The child sits at their desk struggling to understand the task without getting the help they need.
Picture an artificial intelligence bot similar to the Amazon Echo, on each table in the class, or even one per child. These learning assistants could be programmed to the student’s own personal strengths, weaknesses and learning style, it could support the student throughout their studies. A child wants to know how to spell a word, or to fact check a piece of writing, they simply ask their virtual assistant who will give them the answer. The bot could even have access to the lesson plan to know the context of the lessons.
Admittedly, many schools are already in deprivation and splashing out on technology is not at the forefront of many councils to do list, however, having that extra support from the virtual assistant might take a little bit of the load off the teacher, and stop many leaving the profession due to stress and being spread too thinly. Ipads in schools were heavily discussed and at first dismissed as a ‘waste of money’, but once schools invested in them, they have become a classroom staple for research or learning aid. Perhaps AI virtual assistants could do the same.
Another huge strain on teachers is workload. If you know a teacher, you will probably hear them talk about how they are up marking books till late every night, and most of their weekend. Automatic Essay Scoring could be a way to sort out the work-life balance. To combat this problem, innovators have been developing an artificial intelligence marking machine. By feeding a machine-learning algorithm thousands and thousands of essays, the AI system can provide feedback. With the advancement of this program, there are claims that it has achieved a 94% correlation on the same data as the human essay marker.
Obviously, some human marking will be needed, technology can’t take away every aspect of a teachers role, but being able to have the option for AI to mark even a small amount of the more unimportant work, it would free up some spare time for teachers.
So with the fear that AI might eventually steal our jobs, will it take over our education system too. My thoughts? Even if these technologies do come in to play, they won’t take over teachers jobs, they will only improve it. AI will free up the time to allow teachers to engage with pupils on a human level, which is something that technology can’t do, and what teachers themselves don’t have time to do at the minute.