Artificial Intelligence In Schools: Look Past Hesitations To See Opportunity

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Melissa Smith

By Melissa Smith, vice president of education, Glowforge.

Do we fear the robot or do we embrace it? When it comes to the topic of ethical artificial intelligence (AI) in schools, the question is usually met with a split response. While you may love or hate the technology, the reality is — it’s not slowing down any time soon. In fact, AI in schools is projected to grow by 36.0% in the next eight years. Knowing this, the key is to keep an open mind and work to understand the applications of ethical AI within the school system. 

Before we dive in, let’s piggyback on a prime example of a new-to-market product that shook up the old: 3D laser printers.

A little over a decade ago, kids had two options; art or tech class. The latter still had woodworking involved. So, when 3D laser printers came on the scene, strong opinions persisted. However, in time, it became clear to all that 3D laser printing mechanisms didn’t stifle creativity, in fact, it inspired – and made the ‘tech’ in STEAM more accessible than ever before. 

By giving students the tools they needed to create physical objects, 3D laser printers were bridging the gap between art and technology. Years later, this bridging is as important as ever before given careers in STEAM fields are in high demand.

Ms. Gonzalez, a high school art teacher in California, shared her thoughts on how a leading laser 3D laser printer, Glowforge, impacted her classroom. She says it has been a game-changer for my students. It’s given them the opportunity to explore their creativity in new ways and has opened up doors for them in STEAM fields. I have students who are now considering careers in architecture and engineering, which is really exciting to see.”

As you can see: In time, the hesitations fade, and the benefits take over. 

With that, let’s approach ethical AI with the same open mind today.

Here are six ways ethical AI can help educational systems from teachers to students:

  1. Automate grading of assignments and exams, allowing teachers to focus on teaching and student learning.
  2. Provide personalized guidance and advice for students based on their individual learning needs.
  3. Create virtual tutors that can provide real-time feedback and guidance in challenging tasks or concepts.
  4. Generate lesson plans that cater to the individual needs of each student in a class.
  5. Utilize predictive analytics to identify trends in academic performance, allowing educators to better anticipate areas where intervention might be necessary.
  6. Analyze large datasets of student data to find patterns in student behavior, giving educators an insight into how best to approach their lessons or respond to issues in the classroom.

From behavioral spotting and personalized guidance, to time savings and more, there are countless ways educators can embrace the positives of AI. 

One of the biggest time sucks for teachers is lesson creation and grading. Imagine the time that they can get back if this was outsourced to AI? Empowering teachers to focus time where time is most needed — with their students. 

While we know AI will have to be monitored closely, the teacher-robot connection can be one of great support, and growth. 

So try to embrace this new technology. Work to understand its benefits and drawbacks. Be open to how it can make your life easier. After all, students will be the ones dealing with it far long after they leave the confines of their educational system. Prepare them for what’s out there, and encourage them to use AII ethically. 

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