AI in schools

I recently read an article discussing how AI might be used in schools from 2025 onwards.   This seems like a reasonably logical bit of future prediction but on reflection I quickly came to identify some concerns.

Firstly, AI can cover a very broad range of activities.   Is it AI designed to interpret natural language such as your Alexa can identify and then respond to you verbal queries, or are we talking about a more general AI solution more akin to Commander Data in Star Trek?    There is quite a gulf between these two extremes, with the 2nd of them likely to be some time off before it is achievable.

If we therefore accept we are looking at using specific focussed AI solutions in schools by 2025 I think they have clearly got the year wrong as we are already doing it now, in 2022.    We have our spell checker and grammar checker in Word, we also now have our transcription tools in Teams and PowerPoint including the ability to offer real time, or near real time, translation of spoken content.  These are all AI or maybe machine learning based solutions being used in schools and colleges, being used by teachers today.   Not 3 years away in 2025, but today.

So, the headline seems on initial inspection to be quite aspirational and inspirational, for teachers to be using artificial intelligence in their classrooms in only 3 years time.   But a more detailed look and we find it isnt so inspirational as we are pretty much already there.   Maybe the headline hints to a greater use of AI or more advanced AIs being used more often and to greater effect but that’s not the way the headline comes across.   Maybe we will use more AI based platforms, such as learning platforms which direct students through personalised learning programmes, although I have some concerns about this too.  Or maybe there will be greater use of AI and machine learning in the setting and marking of both summative and formative assessments.

I suspect AI use in schools will grow between now and 2025.    I suspect it will grow to be more common in general so wont be a school centric thing, however I suspect that a teacher will still be a teacher and the key to teaching and learning, and the use of AI tools, like the current EdTech tools, will be skilled teachers to wield them as and when appropriate in crafting the best possible learning experience for their students.

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Author: garyhenderson2014

Gary Henderson is currently the Director of IT in an Independent school in the UK. Prior to this he worked as the Head of Learning Technologies working with public and private schools across the Middle East. This includes leading the planning and development of IT within a number of new schools opening in the UAE. As a trained teacher with over 15 years working in education his experience includes UK state secondary schools, further education and higher education, as well as experience of various international schools teaching various curricula. This has led him to present at a number of educational conferences in the UK and Middle East.

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