Artificial Intelligence and The Future of Education
May. 23, 2023.
8 min. read. 3 likes. 1
Educator Alex Snyder reveals the path to educational revolution through AI: Personalized learning, optimized curricula, tailored strategies. Can we captivate students and overcome outdated models in a tech-driven world?
For the last 100+ years, our education system has functioned without much innovation. It is mostly centered around curriculum conveyed by direct instruction from a teacher who may or may not be effective, and with class sizes that are not conducive to one on one assistance. In a diverse environment where students require differentiated instruction based on their learning styles, this model is subpar.
In the past 30 years, the only technological innovations widely implemented in the education sector have been in the technologies used for content viewing. For instance, we went from overhead projectors to digital projectors, and outlines are conveyed through Powerpoint style slides. Graphic design, videography, and photography have upgraded to digital and Adobe-type programs. Yearbooks are now designed online, and grading is done via apps like PowerSchool. Google has created many educational tools for teachers to utilize such as slides, sites, and of course, the ability to create tutorial videos on Youtube that can be translated into most languages.
Given all of these tools, the structure of classes is still the same. One teacher delivers instruction to 35+ students, usually verbally with visual aids. Even with all of these tools at our disposal, only a small handful of teachers are utilizing them to the fullest. In my experience tutorial videos are the best new technology to augment instruction. Any student can stop, rewind, and translate any lesson without the anxiety of trying to follow a teacher’s instruction in real-time. Unfortunately, it takes work to create tutorial videos and most teachers do not put in the effort.
Districts usually adopt curricula created by giants like Pearson and McGraw Hill who profit hugely from new changes in federal and state standards. Each time the government changes educational standards, these curriculum giants hurry to create new textbooks and materials that align with the new standards. Districts then spend massive amounts of money to buy and adopt the curriculum so they are in compliance with the new standards. Districts then pay stipends to teachers who go over the materials and teach them to the rest of their staff. The vast majority of these new lessons get shelved by teachers who already have their preferred methods and don’t feel like adhering to the latest standard knowing it will change in another 5 years.
In the midst of the current educational environment is the introduction of smartphones, social media, mobile games, and video. Each student has one of these devices that are solely designed to be useful and grab the attention of the user. Students in schools are struggling to pull their attention away from these devices, and apps are quickly becoming more and more addictive. Teachers are now having to compete with these devices for student attention. Lately, this has become a losing battle and most teachers are not equipped with the curriculum design that can compete with the draw of these apps.
In the last several months tools like Chat GPT and MidJourney have added another layer of complexity for educators. Students can now easily employ these tools to write papers as well as create visual content, both of which in my opinion could be potential positives. These new AI tools are here to stay and will only become more advanced. My view is that schools need to find ways to integrate with them or they will become fossils. We are at an inflection point in the world of education, and districts don’t seem to be adapting at a reasonable rate.
AI’s Role In Education (Predictions & Ideas)
The same algorithms that learn the best ways to advertise and keep people glued to their screens could be employed for educational purposes. AI-designed educational tools can be created alongside learning algorithms that collect data to guide the most optimal way that an individual learns: auditorily, visually, tactile, or a combination.
Psychological profiling question data can be utilized to pinpoint a student’s optimal learning strategy and lessons could be catered to these strategies. The more a student engages, the smarter the AI becomes at optimizing and catering lessons to that individual. At first, lessons will likely be created by humans but eventually, AI systems will create curriculums and strategies that are superior to human-created lessons. Test scores don’t lie and schools will figure out that they can educate humans more effectively through cheaper tools.
COVID showed us that kids need a school environment for its social benefits, sports, and hands-on subjects like cooking, ceramics, photography, woodworking, 3d printing, laser cutting, and science experiments. AI learning tools with corresponding materials could take students step by step through the content. Teachers will merely be there to encourage, give one on one instruction, manage behaviors, and ensure safe environments. My hope is that school spirit, sports, social events, and academic competitions will endure alongside the AI curriculum systems.
I see two scenarios playing out. AI educational models that integrate into the existing system, and the creation of independent schooling models with their own accreditation that competes with existing schools.
In the beginning, teachers will be threatened by this new technology because it will question their relevance. Narratives will emerge attempting to discourage the adoption of them. Some parents will likely pull their kids out of school and home-school them using this technology. Some innovative hybrid models will show up. Maybe like ride-sharing, a group of 30 parents in a one-mile radius will team up and each parent will take turns hosting a teaching day at their house with all 30 students. There could also be incentives and mechanisms built into apps that foster meetups for academic competitions or think tanks for more social interaction. Wherever experiences are better and cheaper, students will follow.
Accreditation is one aspect that will be challenging and also key to the mass adoption of independent AI-based online schools. Presently state and private schools, community colleges, and universities both online and physical have accreditations that everyone currently accepted as proof of a proficient education.
Organizations like Modern States offer freshman-year college credits for free through CLEP exams and free online tutorials offer a valuable service however schools don’t promote it because it competes with their bottom line. The more students in a district, the more money they get, and those numbers are the most important thing in a school budget. Keeping students enrolled in the school is the main focus of administrators. Money flows from state funding for general education, and money for CTE (career and technical education) comes from the federal Perkins fund. Once the money is allocated to a district, it funnels to the individual schools based on enrollment numbers. Accreditation for AI learning systems will be the next step in education and one of the hardest hurdles to jump because it could disrupt current educational models and enrollment numbers in public schools. People in charge of stamping new accreditations are likely connected to the current system and could be an unexpected barrier to entry.
Social acceptance of these new schooling models will be very important and marketing strategies towards this goal should be carefully considered alongside curriculum development and integration into the overall system.
Gaming & Incentives
If education is to win the attention of students there will need to be incentives that they value and educational “play to earn” games as well as “learn to earn” systems have the potential to capture their attention. Tokenized systems designed by humans or AI models
could be an effective tool in motivating students to engage in lessons, generating effort in competitive academic events, and building stronger social communities.
One option is to create tokens that are redeemable as tuition units that they can spend on higher education. There could be a network of online schools with accreditation that accept these tokens as tuition. They will be incentivised to accept these tokens as tuition because students who take their courses will produce valuable data to optimize their own systems.
Right now schools are the incubators for professional sports. Why are they not also the incubators for recruiting academic talent early? As a teacher, I could point out lots of students who are going to be highly successful in certain areas. If AI systems can produce data sets that pinpoint ideal candidates for specific careers, companies could use it to recruit the talents right out of high school. This would benefit both the student and the company. This system is another layer of incentive to motivate students and help them find the right path.
Schools are bureaucracies to the core. Making changes in these systems is extremely difficult. To effectively integrate new technologies into existing systems, it is essential to create a long-term plan that introduces AI tools incrementally, deliberately, and in strategic ways that scaffold. Minimizing bureaucracy in new educational models is an aspect that should be considered in new designs because it degrades systems over time. DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations) in conjunction with smart contracts could be a viable solution for an organic decentralized schooling model that minimizes bureaucracy.
Education for citizens in any area is a key component of any successful population. The more educated it is, the more it thrives. Building a system that gathers data strategically for optimal curriculum creation and delivery, retains the attention of participants, motivates and incentivises learning, fosters social interaction, and has a built-in pipeline connecting talents with careers that need them will strengthen a population and create positive future growth. Artificial intelligence systems, especially ones not even invented yet could prove to be extremely useful and integral to the future of education.
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3 thoughts on “Artificial Intelligence and The Future of Education ”
Information is nowadays easily available and especially older students can read it by themselves without a teacher. In my opinion, the most important role of a teacher is to inspire and feed curiosity. With the assistance of AI, a teacher can help at finding the right pedagogy for each individual, answer complex questions and support in problem solving.
The internet has already equalized access to information as well as online courses globally and AI is equalizing even more by customized learning techniques. In addition, blockchain based certifications make equal education equally valuable. Location or the name of the institution is not the defining factor anymore.
Good article, thank you!
Excellent observation, I agree with you.
Thank you Henrik. I haven’t looked into blockchain based certifications that much but with smart contracts and self sovereign ID it seems like the next logical step.