By Dr. Cynthia Silvia, DHA
Faculty Member, School of Business, American Public University
Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the educational landscape as we know it today. The use of artificial intelligence for educational purposes will increase by 47.5% between 2017 and 2021, according to the report “Artificial Intelligence Market in the US Education Sector 2018-2022.”
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While an instructor’s presence in the classroom will still play a critical role in the education of students, there will be many changes to their roles and to classroom best practices in the future. The role of AI is becoming increasingly important in research, technological science and education.
The term “AI” was coined by John McCarthy in 1956, and it quickly became known as a subdivision of computer science in which computers behave much like humans. Artificial Intelligence is the area of information technology that is concerned with the production of intelligent machines that have the ability to think and reason like humans.
The Role of AI in the Classroom
Currently, artificial intelligence plays a key role in skill development and testing systems. AI fills educational gaps in a school’s environment, allowing educators and school systems to streamline administrative tasks and free up educators’ time to interact with students and provide them with the ability to implement a unique human learning experience. By combining the unique capabilities of teachers with the extraordinary capabilities of artificial intelligence and machine learning, educators can alter the educational landscape of the future.
According to Forbes contributor Bernard Marr, schools will leverage the best of both worlds to achieve the delicate balance between the skills of educators and the best attributes of machines in the classroom of the future. We as humans have the capacity to understand and adapt to the needs of students where machines would typically struggle with the emotional side of teaching. Today’s students will find themselves working in a world where AI is the norm.
Artificial intelligence is making it possible for educators to individualize the learning experience that many students need. AI will permit customization of the level of differentiation and individualized learning that is currently impossible for educators to achieve when they have more than 30 students in the classroom.
For instance, enterprises such as Content Technologies and Carnegie Learning are creating instructional designs and digital platforms that combine artificial intelligence with the capabilities of providing learning, testing, and feedback to students of all levels. AI is also capable of identifying student deficiencies and will direct the student to new areas of focus when appropriate.
In the future, artificial intelligence may be able to detect and read the facial expressions of students and indicate when students are experiencing difficulties grasping a subject. Currently customizing the curriculum to meet each student’s needs is not possible; however, with machines powered by artificial intelligence, that possibility will become the norm.
Artificial Intelligence Tools Will Increase Classroom Access Worldwide
Artificial intelligence tools will provide students with universal access to global classrooms where students who speak English as a second language or are visually and hearing impaired will be able to use an AI translator in real time in order to understand what a teacher is saying. Currently, a PowerPoint presentation translator can create real-time subtitles for a teacher’s lecture, allowing for real-time learning.
This app allows students who cannot be present in the classroom or those who are at various learning levels to obtain the same quality of education available to traditional students. This technology will result in the breakdown of silos that occur between various institutions and the conventional grade levels found in school systems today.
Benefits of Artificial Intelligence
Today’s educators spend a large portion of their time reviewing and grading assignments and exams. Artificial intelligence can be used to perform these administrative tasks and recommend new initiatives to close the learning gaps when a student is having difficulty understanding a concept. Machines now have the capacity to grade multiple-choice tests, and they will soon be able to assess written responses. By using artificial intelligence to automate these processes, educators can spend additional quality time with students.
Artificial intelligence applications will soon be able to provide students with tutoring and mentoring support outside of the classroom. For students who struggle with homework or preparing for tests and for parents who struggle to support their children’s study habits, the development of AI smart content will provide a new method of personalized studies.
AI can provide students and educators with useful feedback that will enable the customization of educational materials to the needs of students. AI systems will track students’ progress and alert educators when a student is having difficulty with course materials. This will enable students to get the support they need.
AI will also assist educators in improving course content so there are no gaps in the subject matter. There are AI programs that can assist students in choosing their majors based on their areas of success. Students will have the capability of worldwide access and learning using AI software, systems, and support.
Consequently, instructors will find their role in the classroom changing from teachers and instructors to facilitators of learning. Instructors will find themselves embracing the “Flipped Classroom Model,” rather than the traditional brick and mortar classroom of the past.
The Negative Side of Artificial Intelligence
While AI has proven to be beneficial in the classroom, it is not without its drawbacks. One of the technical hitches is that AI does not have the capabilities of teaching social skills, and it is incapable of forming social connections between humans and robots.
These technological advances require internet access which can be costly and could potentially be an issue in foreign countries that have little to no internet connectivity. AI is also costly.
However, as technology becomes the standard in education, its costs will decline. As AI increases in usage, issues such as crashes, upgrading issues and viruses may occur less often.
The Future of Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence technology is growing at the speed of light, making data more accessible and prompting educational research that can improve instructional design and provide individualized learning experiences in the classroom. Artificial intelligence machines have the capacity to learn autonomously, and the ability to make predictions and drive innovations across multiple industries and applications by using massive datasets to provide insight and resolve problems. Whether our goal is to build smart cities and cars or to deliver personalized medicine and education, we have only just begun to understand the true impact of artificial intelligence and machine learning.
About the Author
Cynthia Silvia, DHA, is a faculty member for the School of Business at APU. She is also a member of the faculty at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut. Dr. Silvia received a Master of Healthcare Administration and a Doctorate in Healthcare Administration from the University of Phoenix, and a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in elementary education from the University of Rhode Island. She has taught at the university level both online and on campus for the past four years. What she enjoys most about teaching for APU is helping her students learn and master the skills necessary to succeed in life.
Additionally, Dr. Silvia has held various retail management positions over the past 37 years for F.W. Woolworth/Woolco, Bradlees, Ames, Sears, Toys “R” Us, Babies “R” Us and CVS Pharmacy.