Is AI set to change the way you teach?

by | Oct 3, 2022 | Teacher's Lounge

Skilling up on artificial intelligence may not be at the top of your to-do list, but on this week’s Tes Podagogy, two experts explain why learning about AI could help you cut your workload

At the moment, it may seem near impossible to do. For many teachers, workload is at an all-time high under the strain of the pandemic, and subsequent catch-up.

But, actually, according to Professor Rose Luckin and Karine George, putting AI at the heart of your classroom can lessen that load and make your life as a teacher easier.

In this week’s Tes Podagogy podcast, Luckin, a professor of learner centred design at UCL’s Knowledge Lab, and George, a former headteacher and active research practitioner, discuss their mission to enlighten teachers and leaders on the power of AI in education.

“AI can do the heavy lifting for us, and that’s what we need in education,” says George.

“That leaves teachers free to do] the things that AI cannot do – it can’t adapt as quickly as we can to situations, and understand when a child is coming in and they’ve had a really bad day.”

Luckin agrees and says that AI can provide huge amounts of insight, which can increase teachers’ understanding of their students.

If teachers are given the space and the tools, she adds, they can embrace AI, and fundamentally change the way they do their job for the better.

Teachers will probably have heard a version of this message before: and for many, the thought of reliance on AI is uncomfortable. Many remain unconvinced about the benefits of this kind of technology in the classroom.

But, Luckin remains determined: “It’s a tool that can both help you with the routine and give you time and space, and then help you when you’ve got that time and space to make the most of every minute.”

AI in the classroom: can it be a force for good?
So how exactly can it help?

The first thing George talks about is workload: teachers could use AI in creating online quizzes for pupils to complete, which give them instant feedback. This then allows teachers to plan to address the gaps the next day.

AI can also help with behaviour, she adds. Rather than looking at a single source of data, it has the power to look at multimodal data, such as who is sitting next to who; how the lighting and heating are affecting children; and how children are communicating with each other, or the teacher.

“All that sort of data can help us with looking at behaviour, but sometimes…we look at one aspect, and we report on one aspect, and then we are disappointed. AI can help us collect, test our assumptions and think about some of those issues to do with behaviour,” she explains.

George and Luckin also suggest that it can help with safeguarding, flagging pupils who need support, and seeking out data patterns, as well as recruitment and how school trips are planned.

The key to utilising AI in all of these ways successfully, however, is teacher training. And the message around this, Luckin says, has to come from the government.

“The key thing that needs to come from the top is the recognition of the value of training around AI, and the importance of understanding data and AI,” she says. “So that the time that you put into this training is acknowledged as being a good thing,” she says.

And actually, Luckin points out that, according to Programme for International Student Assessment data, the UK has one of the highest rates of technology per pupil in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development countries.

“And yet, we do not encourage educators to integrate that technology into their practice. We score very lowly on that,” she adds.

“We’ve got the tools in many instances, but we don’t encourage and validate the efforts that educators go to, to try and use those technologies effectively. We don’t want the same to happen with AI. A lot can be done without it costing a fortune, but there needs to be an acknowledgement that this is a valuable and important thing to do.”

In the podcast, Luckin and George reflect on the role of data in AI, as well as the misconceptions teachers have about the technology and the things that schools need to be wary of when utilising AI.

Luckin is leading a free AI Readiness for education course through Educate Ventures Research.

Source : tes magazine