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Is Artificial Intelligence the Future of Education?

By Matthew Lynch — August 21, 2017 2 min read

The role of artificial intelligence in education is always a hot topic. While some fear that artificial intelligence will take over education to the detriment of students and teachers, others claim that artificial intelligence will revolutionize and improve education.

While we’re far from seeing robots in the classroom, artificial intelligence is making its way into education. Certain tasks can be made easier through the use of artificial intelligence. Grading, for example, can be done quickly and easily using artificial intelligence.

In the future, we can expect to see even more artificial intelligence in the classroom. Artificial intelligence could be used to personalize the education experience for students. Programs that use artificial intelligence can act as tutors for students by determining what each student is struggling with and delivering personalized interventions, just as a teacher would. Robots could someday provide one-on-one tutoring or coaching sessions to bring struggling students up to speed.

This kind of artificial intelligence isn’t science fiction, either. Artificial intelligence is already in some classrooms. Scientists in Spain have begun testing robotic tutors that can identify students’ cognitive state and redirect them accordingly. In the United States, EdTech company Knewton recently released a program that measures students’ prior knowledge and assigns lessons based on its findings. Each activity is specially tailored to the skill level of the specific student.

All of this is good news for teachers. Rather than spending hours differentiating instruction for every student, teachers will soon be able to rely on artificial intelligence to determine the specific needs of each student and deliver needed interventions or enrichment.

But what will the role of teachers be in this robotic classroom of the future? Many teachers worry that artificial intelligence will either take their jobs or reduce teachers to mere robots themselves. Educators need not worry about robots taking over schools anytime soon. While artificial intelligence can teach students skills or reinforce difficult concepts for struggling students, it can’t replace a human teacher.

Human teachers will always be needed to manage the classroom environment and to give students the encouragement they need. A large part of education for children is teaching them social-emotional skills. While artificial intelligence programs have proven, they can teach students to read or do math, teaching social and emotional skills is more complex. That kind of learning needs the human touch that only teachers can provide.

How has your school used artificial intelligence? Do you think artificial intelligence is the future of education?

The opinions expressed in Education Futures: Emerging Trends in K-12 are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.