Even in our high-tech society, the words “deep learning” and “elementary classroom” rarely share a sentence. While some sectors have become ubiquitous with automation and big data, primary schools have remained, as expected, a largely human-based industry. Many firms have entered the educational space to provide resources in the shape of tablets, smartboards, and even programmable robotic toys. These new additions have replaced the need for physical multiplication cards and chalk but they have not fundamentally altered the way teachers gather insights on their students. It becomes important to question whether our educational systems can benefit from another dimension of modern technology, namely artificial intelligence. Is there an efficient and effective way to incorporate new data capabilities into daily learning to benefit both the student and the teacher?
Classrooms, in their traditional formats, enable large numbers of pupils to receive the same instructions with equal treatment. Recent decades have seen an increase in emphasis on student diversity and the importance of customized material for specific learning styles. This points to the idea that equity, rather than equality, might be at the heart of ensuring student success. This concept is an easy one to state, it is much harder to enact. Kim and coauthors (2019) turn to AI to uncover a solution. Working with a Korean education company, they run a randomized controlled trial to record the impact of deep-learning assistance on student performance outcomes. Teachers were given technology-generated reports that provided insights on students’ weekly progress based on the entire history of their learning. The research finds that teachers who use this data tool have a significantly positive impact on the efforts and accomplishments of children. Despite several optimistic findings, these conclusions come with caveats that emphasize the importance of teacher buy-in and the possibility of technology overload. Although AI might present several enticing ways to improve educational systems, there are a myriad of factors that should be considered.
The introduction of new routines is costly in any industry and the educational sphere is no different. New ways of working may present opportunities to overcome certain barriers, but if not implemented in a mindful manner, they stand to be hinderances onto themselves. It is important to recognize the human aspect of the educational field and the critical role that teachers play in a child’s growth. As new technology pushes the boundaries of this industry, it will become even more important to bring teachers to the forefront of planning and implementation. A possible solution for ensuring the best educational environment for future students may come as a dichotomous approach. First, researchers should continue to experiment with new AI tools that push the boundaries of traditional structures and concepts of classrooms . Secondly, and most importantly, teachers should remain at the forefront of the implementation of these tools. They should be provided a platform to advocate for their needs while new ideas are being developed. It is only through re-thinking the traditional classroom while also ensuring that we listen to our best resource that we can positively impact students in the long run.
Kim, J. H., Kim, M., Kwak, D. W., & Lee, S. (2019). Assisting Teachers with Artificial Intelligence: Investigating the Role of Teachers Using a Randomized Field Experiment. SSRN Electronic Journal. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3399851