When the CEO of an Artifical Intelligence (AI) technology company – like Entefy’s Alston Ghafourifar – pens a piece proclaiming the coming disruption of the classroom by this latest technological phenomenon, it is tempting to recall all the other disruptors that were meant to upend and revolutionise learning. Radio, video, email, the web, social media, interactive whiteboards…
This article on VentureBeat (originally on Entefy’s own blog) hits some useful notes – for example, the importance of the teacher-student relationship and lifelong learning attribtues – but there isn’t much critical discussion of how AI might actually take hold in the schooling landscape. It would have been interesting to consider how education politics might drive initial investment in AI products (e.g. to boost test scores through automation and personalisation of delivery) or the possible equal-and-opposite reaction of disillusionment and vested interests seeking to maintain traditional models of schooling.
Ghafourifar suggests that the best use of AI is to act as a support for teachers, freeing them up from the tedious business of their job (like assessment and record keeping) – it reads like an Entefy reassurance that the machines aren’t to be feared after all and that rather than disruption, what we’ll see is noticeable improvements to existing schooling but around the edges. In the original post there is an intersting table comparing the things teachers and AI are respecively good for. It pays lip service to individualisation and “extending learning beyond the classroom”.
One potential I’d love to see explored is giving students greater agency over their learning and connecting them to real and authentic learning experiences and communities. For example, instead of assessment continuing to be controlled by teachers (even if outsourced to AI platforms) , I wonder how AI might help us transform even codified curriculum (e.g. Australian Curriculum) into something that students and teachers can draw on to make real choices about what and how they will learn. This could provide the basis for promoting lifelong learning skills while avoiding the crowded curriculum. Does every student really need to know about isotopes?
Or could teachers and students use AI to monitor learning progress against curriculum goals using evidence from real world demonstrations of learning in the context of genuinely connected and authentic learning experiences? Perhaps the complexity of aligning the individual learning journeys with codified curriculum goals, need no longer be a barrier to making learning connected for every student.