A couple of weeks ago, I presented at the Arizona CIO/CTO Summit 2018 which was hosted by the Center for Digital Education in association with the Arizona Technology in Education Association (AZTEA).

Because technology is rapidly changing the way we deliver curriculum and how students consume it, my presentation—titled “Where Have All the Teachers Gone?”—addressed the future of machine learning and artificial intelligence in the classroom and whether traditional teaching can co-exist.

My goal here is to summarize my presentation—and the findings of a survey we did—to help educators plan for and incorporate technology into the classroom in a proactive and ethical way instead of simply reacting to it.

Artificial intelligence in the classroom…really?
In one report, experts expect that artificial intelligence in U.S. education will grow by 47.5% from 2017-2021.  In terms of dollars, some $400 million was spent on AI for the US education market (K-12, higher education and corporate training) in 2017, but by 2024 that number will explode to $3.4 billion, according to another report. That’s significant.

To prepare for my presentation, I sampled teachers about the use of artificial intelligence in the classroom. While most consider themselves knowledgeable about and use technology in the classroom, none of them mentioned AI. The most common technologies used, according to these teachers, were more traditional technologies that have been “re-engineered” over the years:  videos, online applications, computer games, tablets, and smart whiteboards.

Still, most teachers know what artificial intelligence is and believe that it will play a role in education. And even though many are excited about the potential of AI, only a few believe that AI will be very beneficial. Here’s what some of them said:

  • “As an educator, I need to be able to evolve and grow my teaching strategies.”
  • “Any student interactions with AI will be emotionally impoverished and, if we’re being honest, we don’t really know how this will impact learning.”
  • “Can’t replace me.”
  • “I would be excited but based on the history of education fumbling the introduction of new technology and pedagogy, I am fearful that we will overwhelmingly misuse AI in schools.”
  • “I think AI will help many students, but we will still need teachers and experiences with people.”

Typical use cases for AI in education today
Whether or not teachers are excited, afraid or indifferent to the idea of AI in the classroom, AI is already here. In fact, AI is already in use at many schools, though many teachers may not be aware of it. Here are some common artificial intelligence use cases:

  • Fill gaps in learning – AI can help teachers develop personalized learning maps for students and analyze their progress.
  • Support students 24/7 – AI can help students grasp difficult concepts or subjects by providing tutoring outside of the classroom.
  • Fill gaps in teaching – AI can recognize that students are having trouble with a particular concept and identify opportunities for teachers to teach them differently.
  • Teach students differently – AI can help students with learning and other disabilities to overcome challenges with learning.
  • Reduce admin time – AI can give teachers more classroom time by taking over time-consuming grading and other administrative tasks.

So AI will be good at many things:  helping students grasp difficult concepts and giving teachers more time to attend to students’ needs. But AI may never be good enough to teach children social and emotional intelligence, so we clearly need teachers in the classroom. To rely on one without the other may be cheating kids of a quality educational experience—particularly in a world that requires them to be tech-savvy.

Logicalis and artificial intelligence in education
Instead of reacting to technology, Logicalis can help you plan for and incorporate it in a proactive way that aids students and teachers in the learning process. Our consultative approach, delivered through workshops and assessments, will guide you to solutions that can have real educational impact.

We offer end-to-end cloud, hybrid, or on-premise platforms that incorporate deep learning and machine learning to assist teachers with student support and routine administrative tasks that really allow them to focus on the learning experience. 

Download this infographic to see the complete survey results. Or contact your Logicalis account executive to learn more about preparing for AI in the classroom.

Mike Trojecki is the Vice President of Internet of Things (IoT) and Analytics at Logicalis, responsible for developing the company’s strategy, partnerships and execution plan around digital technologies.