Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI), the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings.

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In my first research article I explored the topic of VR in the classrooms. The article focused on the downsides of having VR for the school such as: simulation sickness and finances. It did not get into the benefits of learning via VR in the classroom or why it outranks other technologies in that realm.

For this article review I chose a piece called Out of the laboratory and into the classroom: the future of artificial intelligence in education by Dean Schiff. In this article, Schiff gives the readers a picture of what a classroom with artificial intelligence would look like today. The first section of his work focuses on three different aspects:

  • The failure to consider implementation
  • The assumption of technological linearity
  • The need for human interaction, especially teacher-student interaction

I will briefly go over the first two points. In the implementation section, he says schools fail to take into consideration the funding, teacher training, and the time it will take to fully integrate. In the technological linearity section, he talks about how the technology will align with the schools practices that already in place.

What I really want to focus on is the teacher student interaction section. When I think of using Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the classroom, I think of it as a tool or resource. This article (at least the first half) is talking about replacing teachers and the traditional classroom with AI. We know how important those social relationships between student peers and teacher to student are critical in setting up a good learning environment. We feel it more now than ever, now that classroom elements or the classroom itself was taken away due to COVID-19 for a brief period of time. I don’t know many educators who would read about AI in the classroom and think of it as the education itself, and not as a resource. I felt as this was a weird turn for the article, but there could be some people who are thinking that the way of the future is being taught solely through artificial intelligence. Without a teacher present, educational technology can not serve it’s purpose or reach the ambitious height that it aims for.

Schiff sites some evidence from Frey (this looks like an interesting study… I might do my next article review on it) that says “teaching is among the hardest professions to automate”. Though the computers can store more information, perform calculations quicker and more accurate, the simulations of teachers could not replace teachers as mentors, motivators, support, helping hands, shoulders to cry on, listening ears, etc.

This type of AI they are describing could also not only bring social emotional challenges, but be a challenge to different socioeconomic classes. We’ve discussed at length in our previous discussion boards about the issue of accessibility. Those who would be interested in utilizing AI like it for the idea of every subject can be taught by someone who is an expert or master at that topic. All schools, all students won’t have access to that type of funding, internet, resources. Hypothetically, this would drive the achievement gap into an even further divide.

Explaining this quality gap further, Dreyfus focuses specifically on the nature of teaching and learning. He argues that basic competence can be achieved with online education, but to achieve true proficiency, expertise, and mastery, students must be exposed to risk and failure in a way that is only achievable in person. Students must be able to propose and defend ideas, make fools of themselves, and face social approbation and reckoning from the teacher.

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He brings up the concept of MOOCs through this conversations. MOOCs (Massively Open Online Classrooms) have limited student engagement. MOOCs also are opposite due to it’s lack of personalized instruction. Artificial Intelligence is differentiated and one to one. I was not sure why the author dedicated a section to compare MOOCs and AI as they seem pretty different, but I do see the point of the different ways that educational technology is headed.

Schiff finally shifts his focus from replacing teachers to utilizing AI as a tool or resource. The key to having AI in the classroom is to make the teacher in charge, not the computer. The author cites different founders of artificial intelligence education companies as making the analogy of teachers being like pilots. Teachers would play a passive role, monitor the computer dashboards and focus on the emotional aspect of students.

This was not my idea of artificial intelligence in the classroom. My idea are the types of AI technologies that are already well established in our classrooms today. I know the University of Alaska system, my district, and the Valdez district uses ALEKS, so I’m sure a lot of your districts use it as well. Their website states,

Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces is a Web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system. ALEKS uses adaptive questioning to quickly and accurately determine exactly what a student knows and doesn’t know in a course. ALEKS then instructs the student on the topics she is most ready to learn. As a student works through a course, ALEKS periodically reassesses the student to ensure that topics learned are also retained.

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I envision using ALEKS, an artificially intelligent system, as an assessment or a knowledge check, maybe a replacement of workbooks. ALEKS works alongside a parent, teacher, curriculum.

Another artificially intelligent resource established in education today is the MAP Growth assessment. MAP Growth is an adaptive test. It will ask baseline questions and progressively get more challenging or easier depending on how the student is answering. This resource can help give teachers a more accurate look at where there student is in their subjects and see their progress throughout the year. It will help identify kiddos who need a challenge or who need extra one on one help.

I am excited about the different types of artificial technologies that are available to the classroom. I agree with the article that there is a lot of benefits. Though unlike the article, I haven’t personally entertained the idea of it taking over the classroom.

A year or so ago, my Current Topics of Educational Technology class shared this article – 5 AIs in Search of a Campus. It talks about different technologies such as AI tutoring. This would be an innovative resource. When I was student teaching, I would stay after school to help some of the students in areas they struggled in. It uses the same technology as MAP Grwoth and ALEKS, the adaptive questioning to find where the student is in that subject and then it would use resources like computer games, quizzing, etc. to help students grow in that area.

I love the idea of adapting and individualizing, which is why I think different artificially intelligent resources in education is a great idea.

Links to explore further:

https://www.colocationamerica.com/blog/classroom-artificial-intelligence

https://er.educause.edu/articles/2019/10/5-ais-in-search-of-a-campus

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