Educators are at the end of their ropes. So suggests RAND Corp Fall 2020 Survey., which showed that a quarter of all teachers are considering dropping out of their training.
Distance learning and COVID-19 are partly responsible for this: According to RAND, more than half (57 percent) of teachers said they worked more hours per week than before during the pandemic, and 80 percent reported feelings of burnout. Even before COVID-19, however, former public school teachers struggled and reported finding better pay, better work-life balance, more resources and a more manageable workload in professions outside of education.
“Part of the problem is that teachers spend a lot of time doing things that they don’t think are the best or most use of their time,” says former teacher Jake Bryant, now a partner at McKinsey & Co., where he oversees the company’s training practice. “Nobody becomes a third grade teacher because they love to collect permits and fill out attendance lists. What motivates you to start your career is the interaction and engagement with the students and the support you provide with your learning. “
Technology could be the cure, according to Bryant, who cited McKinsey Research found that teachers currently spend up to 40 percent of their time doing activities that could be automated. Those are hours per week that could be shifted from administration to education.
To be clear, robots are not going to replace teachers. However, experts like Bryant believe that by using artificial intelligence (AI) in the classroom, schools can reshape education so that teachers become happier and students become smarter.
With teachers so few and far between, AI can make a significant difference by streamlining administrative tasks.
“The strongest use cases for AI in education are those that automate the tedious aspects of teacher workloads,” said Eric Wang, senior director of education technology company Turnitin AI. Take grading, for example: Turnitin’s Gradescope platform uses AI to analyze student work. It finds and groups similar answers, then creates an automated rubric that helps teachers grade assignments in half the time.
“The advantage of artificial intelligence is its ability to scale complex tasks or reduce the time required for redundant tasks,” continues Wang. “AI-powered learning products give teachers more time to focus on the classroom and the human aspects of their interaction with students.”
In 2016, Georgia Institute of Technology computer science professor Ashok Goel developed his own time-saving solution using AI: a virtual teaching assistant named Jill Watson, who is available 24/7 to answer routine questions from doctoral students, such as taking exams will.
“If an AI agent is available to answer basic questions, the students can get help anytime and anywhere and relieve the teachers,” explains Goel. “Teachers spend so much time doing everyday activities. Relieving them would enable them to deal more intensively with the learners, which teachers should primarily do. “
The power of personalization
No matter how much of it they have, AI can maximize the time teachers spend feeling engaged through personalized and adaptive learning, ”says Bryant. “Technology enables teachers to give more individual lessons with less effort.”
Knowton’s high and Thinker math are two examples of adaptive learning. The former is an adaptive course material system that uses AI to create personalized college-level learning experiences in math, science, and business. As students complete tasks within the system, the AI automatically detects knowledge gaps and pulls content to correct them. Students who understand the material can quickly move on and on, while those who don’t receive additional, focused instruction. In the meantime, the system feeds data to the instructors in order to inform the subsequent lesson.
“Technology speeds students through tasks they don’t need help with and more time with them in areas they do,” said Matthew Leavy, executive vice president and general manager of Education Publishing at Wiley, parent company of Knewton. “And lecturers who overlook large classrooms help them understand where they should focus their lessons and where they don’t have to spend as much time.”
Thinkster Math is a tutoring platform for K-12 students. First, learners take part in an online assessment that determines their knowledge in a specific area. The system then creates a personalized learning plan and assigns custom worksheets to fill out. The AI captures student work, provides video tutorials when learners get stuck, and isolates learning opportunities for human instructors to focus on during subsequent live tutoring sessions.
“We married the man with the machine,” says Thinkster Math founder and CEO Raj Valli, who compares the technology to a swim coach who watches every move his swimmer makes. “If you tell me to jump in the pool and swim back and forth, I’ll never be a good swimmer. But if you jump in the pool with me and point out that I am not kicking my right leg or using my left arm, then you can make me better. Our tutors can make such observations with our technology. “
Reading Progress, a brand new tool from Microsoft, applies AI and speech recognition to reading fluency. Teachers assign passages appropriate to reading level, which students read in front of the camera and submit for review; With the help of AI, trainers can then assess performance and identify reading errors.
“Anything Reading Progress could do a teacher could do if he could sit next to each of his students all day and practice them on every single word they read. But in a classroom with 20 or 30 students, that’s often not possible, “said Anthony Salcito, Microsoft vice president of Worldwide Education. “Reading Progress helps teachers quickly assess how students are progressing so they can coach them where they need help.”
In the future, AI could optimize not just individual curricula, but entire classrooms. For example, Goel says AI could be used for “matchmaking” – to match students with the teachers and schools that are best suited to them based on their learning style.
Meanwhile, Sean Ryan, president of the McGraw-Hill School Group, says there is an option to classify students based on ability rather than age. “Today we mostly sort the students chronologically, no matter what. But AI gives us the ability to group students based on what they want to learn next, ”says Ryan.
McGraw-Hills ALEKS The adaptive learning program uses AI to create personalized learning paths for students from kindergarten to college. “That can be difficult to accept due to social components. But with more education happening in hybrid and online environments, there’s no reason not to send an eighth grader on a pre-calculus class when they’re cognitively ready, ”says Ryan.
It is the beginning of a new era in which learning is a journey rather than a destination. That is what makes teachers navigators – and that is exactly what most of them want to be.
“Teachers become teachers to help children maximize their potential,” Ryan concludes. “By allowing them to focus more on the social components of learning, technology helps them make the kind of impact they have in their job.”