At the start of the year, more than half of first-grade students at Slackwood Elementary were struggling to achieve high math scores on a preliminary exam. In response, district math specialist George Regan turned to Happy Numbers, a machine-learning AI teaching tool, to improve outcomes—and by the end of the year, the students had raised their average scores by nearly a factor of four. This kind of progress may become increasingly common as schools begin to incorporate artificial intelligence programming into their curricula.
Benefits of AI in the classroom
Artificial intelligence offers many benefits as a supplement to traditional education practices. Teachers are presently responsible for absorbing countless details that help them tailor lesson plans to each of their classes, but many students will still fall into gaps where lessons can pass over their heads. Furthermore, grading is a seemingly never-ending chore. Much of a teacher’s time outside the classroom is spent reading essays rather than preparing for upcoming lessons.
AI-based teaching assistants can ameliorate both of these problems. By outsourcing data processing to intelligent machines—studying student engagement, tracking thought processes, and predicting a student’s probability of graduating—teachers can focus on crafting lesson plans that better address individual students’ needs. AI can also manage much of the grading process, which frees teachers up for more innovative and productive time in the classroom.
Challenges to overcome
Of course, integrating machine learning isn’t as simple as booting a computer. The technology itself is still in its early stages, and the number of educators who are capable of effectively utilizing it are few and far between. Additionally, before committing to an AI-intensive curriculum, it’s important that school districts consider a few readiness criteria. At the most basic level is whether their current IT infrastructure can even handle such an upgrade. They should also have clearly defined goals and expectations for what they hope to achieve with the technology.
As artificial intelligence establishes itself in classrooms around the world, there will be many challenges to overcome. But for those who are able to do so, the resulting benefits will be seen in student progress.
Image via Pixabay.