AI: Write Me An Article About Schools’ Use Of AI

By Andrew Timbrell

 

Is AI purely a force for good, or are there warning signs that we should be wary of? Andrew Timbrell explores the use of AI in schools.

 

Education is possibly staring into the face of the elephant in the room; a resource that has the potential to change how we teacher, forever.

It was recently announced by ministers, that all Australian schools will allow the use of artificial intelligence in the classroom as of this year. A pioneering moment for education it seems. Will education ministers around the world follow in similar footsteps when revising their national frameworks guiding use of new technology? This move to AI will surely incite all sorts of questions in the education sector. How will the teacher role change? Will teaching become de-personalised? In this article, we delve into the complex ways AI is being used in schools and the impact it may have on the education landscape.

Human vs robot

One of the most significant contributions of AI to education is the concept of personalised learning. Traditional classrooms often struggle to accommodate the diverse needs of students, due to a lack of staff and resourcing, but AI-powered platforms can create tailored lessons for pupils, as well as provide feedback aimed to academic development at an individual level. These systems analyse students’ strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles to deliver adapted lesson plans and resources. This ensures that each student progresses at their own pace, leading to enhanced engagement and academic performance.

Your assessment friend

Assessment tools powered by artificial intelligence are revolutionising the approach educators take to track and monitor student progress. By employing sophisticated data analytics and machine learning algorithms, these tools offer immediate feedback to both teachers and their students, crucially saving the teacher time along the way. By adjusting difficulty levels on-the-fly in response to individual performance, a challenging yet manageable learning pace can be maintained. This enables teachers to pinpoint specific areas requiring intervention as early as possible.

Back to (virtual) reality

The rise of AI-driven virtual teachers is gaining momentum in educational circles. With phones, laptops and tablets all offering users their own AI Assistant, it leaves one to believe that perhaps one day, pupils will have their very own teaching assistant in the form of AI. These virtual companions offer instant support to students by addressing queries, clarifying concepts, and even evaluating assignments. Operating round the clock, they ensure learning is within reach at any hour, catering particularly to students requiring extra help or facing challenges in conventional classroom environments.

An admin’s best friend!

As AI develops rapidly, its ability to simplify administrative duties within educational settings, lights up the eyes of school business departments. Chatbots and virtual assistants competently manage routine inquiries from students, parents, and staff, liberating human resources for more intricate assignments. AI-powered systems can also aid schools in scheduling, resource allocation, and optimising budgetary planning to efficiently support one of a school’s most precarious challenges in the current economic climate.

VIP access!
Think of it as a VIP pass, a jump ahead cutting out the complexities of checking books or waiting for a student to communicate a particular challenge. This technology’s ability to recognise students who might be at risk of academic setbacks is pivotal for timely intervention. AI has the capability to scrutinise student data and trends, identifying early indicators like decreasing grades or frequent absences. This empowers teachers to intervene swiftly, offering tailored support and resources to help struggling students before they face significant academic challenges further down the line.

The ethical hurdle

Despite its potential to transform education, AI presents certain challenges and ethical dilemmas. These include worries about safeguarding data privacy, the risk of bias in AI algorithms, and the necessity for responsible AI governance in educational settings. Recently, Danish ministers have expressed concerns regarding students employing AI to plagiarize and fabricate essays. Monitoring such occurrences in schools will require careful procedures, particularly focusing on students’ ability to demonstrate their own editing and drafting skills. Schools and policymakers must navigate these issues diligently to ensure that AI benefits all students fairly, without aggravating existing inequalities. The peril schools confront is the risk of falling behind by failing to keep pace with AI advancements. Seeing AI solely as a threat will widen the gap schools must bridge, whereas embracing and integrating it harmoniously could drive progress. There’s also a concern that schools might adopt AI without thorough evaluation of its impact or appropriateness. For instance, relying solely on AI for assessment or grading, devoid of human oversight, is could be an irresponsible approach. As with any technology, a balanced approach is essential.

AI in schools around the world

In China, the government has invested heavily in AI tools, such as the adaptive tutoring platform Squirrel AI, which relies on camera surveillance and large-scale data sets. These tools focus profoundly on improving performance on standardised tests, therefore families who can afford such resources, benefit. It is important to note that in countries like China, ethics, impartial access and privacy are not categorised as high priorities.

In India, ed tech company Embibe uses AI to clarify complex math and science concepts. Students can use their smartphone to scan a passage from a book, and the app uses 3D imagery to help with visualisation. AI is also being used in India to make early predictions on student attainment.

Singapore recently announced a national initiative to build AI literacy among students and teachers to support teacher and student understanding of the risks and benefits of such technology. By 2026, training on AI in education will be offered to all teachers, including trainees.

Case study

Century Tech is an educational technology company known for its innovative AI-powered learning platform designed to personalise education for students. This case study delves into the implementation of Century Tech’s platform in a school setting, examining its impact on student engagement, academic performance, and teacher efficiency.

One notable case study is the integration of Century Tech’s platform in a school in London facing challenges with student engagement and attainment in mathematics. The school adopted Century to support its mathematics curriculum. Through personalised learning pathways and adaptive assessments, students experienced notable improvements in their mathematical proficiency. Teachers utilised Century’s analytics to identify areas of weakness and provide targeted support to struggling students. Over time, the school observed significant gains in student achievement, with a marked increase in the number of students achieving higher grades in mathematics. The school also decided to adopt a new homework approach, using Century’s feedback capacity to set homework tasks for their students across English, maths and science. Teachers simply set the task on, for example, multiplying decimal numbers, and Century reports back on a range of data threads such as time taken on each question, the specific error made, and a suggestion regarding which learning concept the student should tackle next, based on their individual performance with multiplying decimals. The school leadership reported a vastly improved planning benefit and hours of time saved for teachers every week.

Other notable features include its ability to produce data informing teachers about those students requiring early intervention, a nudge in the motivation department, or a higher challenge. Century’s latest development is a feature that enables schools to track their students’ performance during any given task against the national average.

For more details: https://www.century.tech/

Conclusion

AI is undeniably transforming the educational landscape, enriching student learning experiences and equipping teachers with invaluable tools. From personalised learning and adaptive assessment to streamlined administration and early intervention, AI holds enormous potential in education. As this technology progresses, it becomes imperative for schools and policymakers to wield its power responsibly and inclusively, guaranteeing that every student can flourish in school enhanced by AI.

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