Over the past decades, scientists, futurists and movie-makers have predicted the dramatic (and sometimes deadly) changes that will occur when widespread artificial intelligence becomes mainstream. AI has been quietly incorporated into many aspects our daily lives, but it hasn’t caused any major disruptions. Artificial intelligence comes in many forms, including the intelligent sensors that allow us to take amazing photos, the auto parking features in cars and the sometimes frustrating personal assistants found in smartphones.
We have yet to develop self-aware robots as popular as Star Wars and 2001: A Space Odyssey. However, we have made smart and often significant uses of AI technology in a variety of applications that, though not as amazing as androids and still impact our daily lives. Education is an area where artificial intelligence is poised for big changes. In some cases, it is already happening.
While it is unlikely that we will see humanoid robots as teachers in the near future, there are many projects using computer intelligence to enhance the educational experience. Here are just some of the many ways these tools, as well as those that will follow, will help shape the future educational experience.
1. Artificial intelligence can automate basic tasks such as grading
Grading assignments and tests in large lecture courses can be a frustrating task for college students, even if TAs share it. Even for lower grades, teachers may find that grading takes up significant time. That time could be used to communicate with students, prepare for class or work on professional growth.
While AI won’t ever replace human grading entirely, it is becoming closer. Teachers now have the ability to automate student writing grading and multiple-choice testing. While essay-grading software today is in its infancy and still not up to par, it will continue to improve over time, allowing teachers more time to engage students and teach them how to grade.
2. You can adapt educational software to suit student needs
The application of more personalized learning will be a key way that artificial intelligence will affect education from kindergarten through graduate school. This is possible through a growing number of adaptive learning software, games, or programs. These systems adapt to student needs by putting more emphasis on certain topics, repeating information that students don’t understand, and generally allowing students to work at whatever pace suits them.
This custom-tailored education may be a machine-assisted solution that allows students from different levels to work together in one class. Teachers will facilitate learning and provide support as needed. Adaptive learning already has a significant impact on education in the United States (especially with Khan Academy), and AI will continue to advance in the next decades.
3. It can indicate areas that need to be improved
Teachers may not always notice gaps in their educational materials and lectures, which can cause students to be confused about certain concepts. Artificial intelligence can help solve this problem. Coursera is an online massive course provider. If a large amount of students fail to answer a homework assignment correctly, the system alerts the teacher. It then sends future students a personalized message offering hints.
This system is designed to help students understand the concepts and fill in any gaps that might occur in their courses. Students don’t have to wait for feedback from professors. Instead, they get immediate feedback which helps them understand and retain the concepts.
4. AI tutors could offer additional support to students
Although there are certain things that humans can do for tutors, it is possible that more students will be tutored by tutors who can only exist in ones and zeros. Artificial intelligence is used in some tutoring programs, which can assist students in basic mathematics and writing. So students will not be forced to type “do my homework for money” no more, they will know how to do it themselves.
Although these programs may be able to teach basic concepts, they aren’t suited for helping students master high-order thinking skills and creativity. Real-world teachers will still be required to assist students with this. This doesn’t mean that AI tutors won’t be possible in the future. Advanced tutoring systems are not possible due to the rapid technological progress that has been made over the past decades.
5. AI-driven programs offer educators and students valuable feedback
AI can be used to help both students and teachers design courses that fit their needs. Additionally, it can provide feedback about the course’s success to both. AI systems are being used by some schools, especially online ones, to monitor student progress, and alert professors if thre is any concern with student performance.
These AI systems are used to support students and allow professors to pinpoint areas that can be improved to help students struggling with subject matter. These AI programs offer advice not only on specific courses but also general guidance. They are also working on systems that allow students to select majors based in part on their success and failures. The advice is not mandatory, but it could be a new way for students to choose college majors.
6. It is changing how we access and interact with information
AI systems can have a significant impact on the information we find every day. We don’t often notice them. Google displays results based on where you are located, Amazon recommends based off previous purchases, Siri adapts according to your needs, and most web ads are targeted at your shopping habits and interests.
These types of intelligent systems play an important role in our interactions with information in personal and professional life. However, they could also be used to change how information is found and used in schools and academic settings. AI-based systems, which have been around for decades, have radically altered how we interact with information. With newer, more integrated technology, students of the future could have drastically different experiences when researching facts and looking them up.
7. It could transform the role and responsibilities of teachers
While teachers will continue to be an important part of education, new technology such as intelligent computing systems may alter the nature and scope of that role. As we know, AI can be used to assist with tasks like grading. It can also help students learn better and could even replace tutoring in real life. AI could also be used in teaching. AI systems could provide expertise and be used to assist students in finding answers or information. AI will in most cases shift the role from that of teacher to one of facilitator.
Teachers will be able to supplement AI lessons, help students who are struggling, provide interaction with students and offer hands-on experiences. These changes are already being driven by technology in many ways in the classroom, especially for schools that use the online model or embrace the flipped classroom model.
8. AI can make trial-and-error learning less daunting
While trial and error is an essential part of learning, for many students the idea of failing or not knowing is frightening. Some students don’t enjoy being put in front their peers or other authority figures, such as teachers. Intelligent computer systems are designed to make learning easier for students. Artificial intelligence may allow students to experiment and learn in an environment that is relatively free from judgment, particularly when AI tutors can provide solutions. AI is an excellent format for this kind of learning as AI systems are often able to learn by trial and error.
9. AI powered data could change the way schools find, educate, and support their students
Smart data gathering powered by intelligent computer system is already changing how colleges interact and communicate with students. Intelligent computer systems help make college more tailored to student goals and needs.
Data mining systems play an important role in today’s higher education landscape. But artificial intelligence could make higher education more accessible. Some schools are already offering AI-guided training to students, which can make the transition easier between high school and college. The college selection process could end up looking a lot like Amazon, Netflix or Amazon Prime. It will recommend the best schools and programs to students based on their interests.
10. AI could revolutionize the ways students learn and who teaches them
Even though major changes might still be decades away, the truth is that artificial intelligence can radically alter almost everything we take for granted in education.
AI systems, software, support and education allow students to learn from anywhere in the globe at any given time. With these programs replacing certain classroom instruction, AI could soon replace teachers in some cases (for good or ill). AI-powered educational programs already help students to master basic skills. But, these programs will grow and become more accessible as developers learn more.