“Are droids taking our jobs?”
That’s one of the most popular TED talks, with over one million views to this day. Andrew McAfee, the speaker, is an authority in business innovation. The talk was focused on the way technology is changing jobs. He tackled the issue of human tasks being delegated to AI, with tens of millions of people already being underemployed or unemployed.
The conclusion? Yes; technology is taking jobs. But that’s not necessarily bad. Here’s how McAfee ended the talk:
“I’m very confident we’re going to learn to live more lightly on the planet, and I am extremely confident that what we’re going to do with our new digital tools is going to be so profound and so beneficial that it’s going to make a mockery out of everything that came before.”
When we think about the way AI changes our jobs as teachers, we shouldn’t be afraid of robots taking over our roles. Yes; they will take some of our tasks. But that’s beneficial, after all. The new forms of teaching, supported by artificial intelligence, will make a mockery out of the methods that came before.
How Will AI Influence a Teacher’s Job?
1. AI Helps Students to Catch Up
Think about the old-school teaching methods. The teacher has a curriculum to follow, and the curriculum is not very flexible about digressions. Every student in the classroom has to meet the same standards. They take the same tests, submit the same assignments, and learn the same things.
When the teacher wants to help a student to catch up, there are two things they could do:
Offer additional instructions and tutoring outside school hours, or
Devote an entire class to repetition, although most students in the classroom don’t need that.
Artificial intelligence changes that. It takes part in the teacher’s job. Take Differ by EdTech Foundry as an example. It’s a service that acts as a personal tutor to the subscribers. The only difference between a real tutor and Differ is that a bot answers the questions when you use the tool.
Chatbots like this one contribute towards greater personalization of the learning process. Yes; the student still has to learn the same things. But the pace is changed. If they don’t comprehend everything in class, they will use the tool at home. They won’t have to put up with the teacher for another hour after classes, and that’s always a plus on the student’s side. It also means that the teacher is relieved from part of the burden.
2. Grading Is Getting More Objective
Most teachers have always based the grading process on data. We used Excel sheets to track a student’s progress. There, we added the scores from each test and the grades from each paper.
Tests can be objectively graded. On questions for short answers and multiple-choice questions, there can be only two types of answers: right or wrong. But what about essays? We’re always subjective about them. If we don’t like a student’s argument, we may give a lower grade because he didn’t manage to convince us with facts. But if we like someone’s argument, we’re already convinced and we don’t pay that much attention to facts.
AI changes that. First of all, online tools allow us to track grammar and syntax issues without any effort. But we’re getting beyond that point. Teachers today use Robot Don – a paper grader tool, and Copyscape – plagiarism detection software.
Let’s talk about Robot Don. It’s great for the teacher since it gives an objective evaluation of the paper. The teacher still has the final call on the grade. They use the tool just as a reminder that their judgment is not 100% objective.
But Robot Don, Hemingway App, and Copyscape are great for students, too. They use these tools to improve the quality of their papers before submitting them for grading.
3. AI Enables a More Realistic Teaching Experience
Are you about to teach students about planets? VR technology will make the lesson much more realistic. Even when you show pictures of planets, the students can’t fully understand the concepts of space and movement within it. Videos do better in that aspect. But imagine a student wearing a VR set and watching planets moving in the space that surrounds them. That’s a much more realistic experience.
Drones contribute to realistic learning, too. If you’re teaching about nature, you can take students in the park and use the drone to film nature from above. That takes the students on an explorative adventure of a whole new kind.
4. Robots Will Be Part of Each Classroom
Robots are magnificent classroom tutors, especially in the K-12 category. Tega is a great robot to take as an example. It’s a social robot that engages students for hours. It looks like a furry toy, so children love it. Tega gives easy assignments for the students. Let’s face it: they are more likely to follow a robot’s instructions than a teacher’s instructions.
NAO, a humanoid robot, is more advanced. It’s used in healthcare centers worldwide. It welcomes patients, listens to their questions and offers information. But this is a great robot for students in higher education, too. They can practice coding and algorithmic logic. NAO is so versatile that it can be used in all kinds of programs. The students at one school programmed it to perform Shakespeare plays.
Currently, robots can’t replicate the entire job of a teacher. It’s highly unlikely for that to occur in the near future. The teacher is still needed since human interaction is highly important in the educational process. The robot cannot catch and understand a student’s emotions, tone of voice, and other behavioral signs that the teacher considers.
AI Adds Real Value to Teaching
Algorithms can help teachers to assign fairer grades. It also replaces additional tutoring that would be provided by the teacher or a private tutor in the usual educational format. It helps students to understand concepts by realistic representation, and it brings robots in the classroom.
Those are only a few of the many aspects of how artificial intelligence influences the teaching processes. The educator stays in the classroom, but they used advanced technology to teach in a more effective and more engaging manner.