Technology is rapidly becoming an integral part of the classroom and our children’s education. Kids are increasingly using tablets and other digital appliances, and coding is becoming part of the standard curriculum around the world.
As we speak, artificial intelligence and virtual reality are positively transforming education — not only regarding how children learn but also how teachers teach. As chess legend Garry Kasparov said in a recent TED talk, “Human plus machine isn’t the future, it’s the present.”
Technology can enhance educators’ work and ultimately ensure that all students have access to high-quality teaching. According to Thomas Arnett, senior research fellow at the education think tank Christensen Institute, technology will help nonexperts and expert teachers adapt to the demands of an increasingly digitized world and education system, as well as benefiting school leaders.
Experiential, or hands-on, learning has taken on a completely new meaning with the use of AI and VR. Students are no longer simply engaging or learning. Instead, they’re actually exploring, experiencing, becoming involved with, and participating in the educational experience. “We’re moving away from simply ‘learning’ a subject or topic to ‘feeling’ the content,” said Graham Lawrie, director of innovation and outreach at Sevenoaks School.
For example, Publisto is creating a student-teacher-expert collaboration platform called Stories of Tomorrow. The technology will use deep learning analytics to capture students’ visions of the future of space exploration. Platforms like this offer students full experiences of what they’re actually learning about and bring them into the subject’s world.
Software companies have realized the need for the digitization of education and have introduced various innovative tools. Content Technologies is leveraging deep learning to deliver customized books, turning decade-old textbooks into smart and relevant learning guides that aim to make study time more efficient. Meanwhile, programs like Oculus Rift and Google Expedition are enhancing traditional lessons with meaningful virtual reality experiences. Elsewhere, sites like Khan Academy and Coursera, and games like Story Chaser and Sumdog, allow students to strengthen their skills and learning.
Artificial intelligence is not just changing how children learn; it also brings innovative solutions for shortcomings in teaching. Carnegie Learning and Third Space Learning leverage big data and analytics to provide tutors with real-time feedback about their students’ strengths and weakness. This helps them assess the learning needs of their students. In a foreseeable future, time-consuming activities such as grading will be automated, saving educators significant amounts of time and energy.
High-quality curriculum and online learning resources can improve the educational outcomes produced by less effective teachers. Moreover, computers can take over much of the basic content and skills instruction and provide the teacher with better assessment data and learning resource recommendations, freeing up their time and energy to devote to their students. Innovations that commoditize teacher expertise allow teachers to focus on helping students develop deeper learning and noncognitive skills.
In other words, artificial intelligence in education (AIEd) will provide intelligent personal tutors for every learner and intelligent support for collaborative learning, while intelligent virtual reality will support learning in authentic environments. While AI develops and grows, AIEd will have to follow in order to help learners gain 21st century skills, contribute to the improvement of assessment, and embody insights from the learning sciences.