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By Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt
Faculty Member, Transportation and Logistics Management, American Public University
Many people think that artificial intelligence (AI) is a novel concept that will be realized in the years to come. But when you really start to think about it, we have artificial intelligence all around us. We have wine bottles that tell you the background of a criminal, refrigerators that remind us to buy milk and cars that tell us that it’s time for an oil change.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. How many people have Microsoft Office Suite on their computer, laptop or your personal device? Microsoft Word, for example, has been around for over 20 years. Today, many people will tell you that its artificial intelligence writing assistant has helped them to make sure that their grammar is correct countless times.
Bringing AI into the Classroom
If we have numerous examples of artificial intelligence around us now, is it really a stretch to start thinking about how AI can be infused into the classroom? As an instructor who has taught online for nearly a decade, I feel this change in practice would mean a total paradigm change, looking back about 30 years ago when the first online classrooms were proposed. Distance learning was first proposed by the University of Illinois in 1960 when classroom students developed an intranet that allowed for distance learning.
Do you shrink at the idea of thinking that an online teaching career may be a thing of the past, thanks to AI? Let’s consider what artificial intelligence would look like in the classroom. How do we structure curricula that involve AI?
A discussion about using AI in curricula could be seen from two perspectives. The first one is the teacher’s perspective of AI in the classroom. Many teachers would love a personal assistant to read and critique essays, hold student office hours, and help high-achieving students move faster through the curriculum. Artificial intelligence could assess teachers’ strong and weak points and provide timely training to address any deficiencies.
The second perspective is the students’ understanding of artificial intelligence in the classroom. Students would need to understand what artificial intelligence is, the ways that AI can make learning more relevant and fun, and how AI it will enrich their lives in future years.
Helping Students Utilize AI
Artificial intelligence in the classroom may vary if you are the student, the teacher or the curriculum developer. Each has a unique aspect.
For students, there is the aspect of defining artificial intelligence in everyday experiences. Many of us use artificial intelligence applications on our phones. These AI apps are used to book the best direct morning flight to a destination, use the latest gaming system or order a vehicle online.
But having an on-site machine learning location for students to practice AI hands-on is extremely in. It might mean that every student will need to purchase Virtual Reality (VR) equipment or find a location where AI equipment is available.
There also needs to be a commitment from educational institution leaders to say that artificial intelligence is here to stay, and we need to be a part of it. Universities that understand the importance of artificial intelligence must also realize that students will benefit from a complete immersion in each AI course and to develop the right kind of curriculum.
That goal starts with implementing AI in one course, testing its merits and building on AI’s strengths while addressing its weaknesses. The future looks bright and we will see artificial intelligence in many classrooms in the upcoming years. This will mean an expanding budget for curricula, virtual reality equipment and course development.
About the Author
Kandis Boyd Wyatt is a full-time professor in the School of Business at American Public University (APU). She holds a B.S. in meteorology from Iowa State University, an M.S. in meteorology and water resources from Iowa State University and a D.P.A. in Public Administration from Nova Southeastern University. Her research interests include project management, supply chain management, meteorology, the climate and public administration.