Moving With the Times – Artificial Intelligence and Education

In the battle to address the problems in how children perceive engineering, there’s an awful lot of work that needs doing, and much of this work is down to teachers. We’ve reported some pretty strong criticisms of how teachers are going about this task in the past, but they also do a sterling job in our schools that we simply couldn’t do without…or could we? Is there any sort of setup that could remove the perceived need for teachers, and would it be a good move even if there was one?

Molecular Thoughts

This is something that The Guardian has addressed very recently. As you might expect, the most ready substitute for a teacher would probably be some kind of Artificial Intelligence system or a computerised solution, and the idea of a computer ‘replacing’ a teacher has actually been thrown around since the 1970s. In fact, the idea has been put into practice in the USA,albeit in a fairly limited capacity.

USA “Rocketship” Schools

Some US schools have gradually introduced more and more online classes in place of teachers, but at present the practice is very much one of ‘blended learning’. In other words, computers and teachers are being used side-by-side, not in a situation where the former is being used to phase out the latter. The appeal is obvious; cutting down on teachers means you’re cutting down on costs.

Downsides of Online Learning

However, should this one advantage be seen as a good thing? Many people would argue not, as computerised and online learning is not without issues. For example, learning from a computer screen puts children with reading problems at a distinct disadvantage. Also, computers will never possess the spontaneous qualities of a human teacher, and won’t be able to react to situations in the same flexible way. So, clearly there are downsides, but are teachers going to lose their jobs?

Looking to the Future

Our aforementioned Guardian article doesn’t think so, but it does say that their jobs might change. For one thing, they might have to become more universally tech-savvy. We can’t help thinking about how life will alter for IT professionals too. After all, with so many new systems in place, there’ll be no shortage of work. We have the regular pleasure of working with IT contractors, and there’s already a great demand for them. If these plans come into fruition, though, the future could be even brighter.

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