It’s hard to think of an industry that hasn’t been disrupted by artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML). From our governments to our workplaces, the increased use of AI demonstrates just how integrated these technologies have become in our daily lives.
While a classroom may not seem an obvious candidate to implement these technologies, in the last few years we’ve seen a steady increase in the use of AI/ML by both educators and students alike – especially with the rise of hybrid and remote learning. The widespread adoption of AI in the classroom has proven to be a powerful resource for educators to leverage in their teaching practice.
There is a unique opportunity now to leverage these learnings to create a more meaningful and equitable learning experience for all.. Here’s how:
AI’s supporting role in the classroom
Whether it’s managing student data or grading assignments, administrative tasks are time consuming. However, through AI and ML, these slow, manual and labour-intensive tasks can be automated, giving educators more time to focus on facilitating student success.
The emergence of chatbots in education is an excellent example of how AI can relieve educators while being seamlessly integrated into a student’s learning experience. AI technology has become so sophisticated that chatbots are able to answer commonly asked questions from students, and can even tutor them on simple concepts. While the use of chatbots in lieu of educators may seem jarring, as digital natives, the student population has become accustomed to these AI technologies, resulting in a seamless adoption of this administrative solution. Naturally, we expect the educator to interface directly with the student in more complex scenarios, but the use of the AI chatbot will free up the educator’s time to support these more meaningful interactions.
AI also presents the opportunity to create a more equitable classroom. For students who may have English or French as a second language, collaboration tools like Webex use AI to create a more inclusive learning environment through accessibility tools such as live language translations and closed captions. These AI tools have proven to be extremely beneficial when it comes to keeping students fully engaged, supporting their understanding of course content and ensuring that no student is left behind.
Feedback and grading from tests and assignments can also leverage the power of AI to identify trends in student performance, providing valuable insights that are generally hard to detect in traditional ways. For example, aggregate student performance data can show whether a class is struggling with a particular concept, but excelling in others, indicating areas where a greater focus from the educator is needed. The real-time insights gained from AI gives educators the opportunity to adapt their teaching style to best address individual as well as collective student needs.
Looking ahead, educators will be able to leverage video analytics to conduct sentiment analysis, to better understand how students are engaging with course materials. The data from this analysis is a powerful tool that can be used to assess the success of course delivery, including performance of the educator, conditions of the classroom, quality of teaching materials, and more – all of this provides schools and teachers the data they need to adapt when necessary. This data can also be used by educators to discover areas of self-improvement, creating a meaningful professional development environment for themselves.
A more intimate learning experience
More than ever, technology, and in particular AI and ML, is becoming an integral part ofeducation. As a result, we are seeing new and powerful ways to gather information and improve the student experience. This data provides a rich source of intel that allows for more intimate and personalized learning. With these tools providing a more tailored and personal education experience, we are seeing a significant shift in the ability to improve student outcomes, all while supporting educators in their goals.
However, with these exciting possibilities comes an important responsibility. Biases in AI do exist and can taint the outcomes, so educators must be conscious of what data sets are being used and they must carefully evaluate the resulting insights.
Finally, as educators, an irreplaceable part of the job is the human relationships that develop between educators and students. AI-enabled technology can provide insights and support, but it can never fully replace human relationships.
At Cisco, we are committed to building technology that seamlessly connects educators and students to create the best learning experiences possible, no matter where they are, or how they are delivered. Learn more about Cisco’s education tools here.
Rob Barton is the CTO for Cisco Canada.