Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Education: Are We Prepared?

AI/Artificial Intelligence is coming to your school and campus soon, if not already. Are you ready for this technological change?

Are educational leaders looking around the corner to begin imagining how AI (Artificial Intelligence) will rock their world? How are entrepreneurial educators successfully deploying AI and intelligent automation to help accelerate innovation efforts, personalize learning, build competitive advantage, eliminate redundancy and reduce non-productive costs?

How will AI, big data and analytics, robotics, and wide-scale global collaboration impact the classroom, our higher education campuses, and future education?

How will AI be integrated into the classroom to help prepare our students and workforce to collaborate and compete in a hyper-competitive, disruptive, technological-driven global economy where ideas and jobs can and do move around the world, effortlessly?

To be clear, I am not advocating for, nor does the current research suggest, that computer-based learning systems will come close to fully replacing the human touch so necessary for interactions between exceptional teachers and their students.

Yet, AI can and likely will assist teachers to personalize lesson plans, augment instruction to those students speeding ahead of the class and provide students who are struggling with the tools to catch up. AI is another tool that may help teachers teach, children learn, and administrators manage in this age of technological disruption.

A recent Stanford University report demonstrates that by 2030, AI will be far more commonplace in the classroom than it is today.

Educational institutions can use data analytics to address one of the major issues facing colleges and universities today: student retention. By helping educators identify students who are at risk of failure or dropping out, early intervention strategies can be employed to help meet the need of the students and guide them to a pathway of success. The report points out that AI promises to enhance education at all levels, especially by providing personalization at scale. For many teachers, personalized education is a goal that they struggle to reach. Whether it’s too many students, too short class periods, or students with too wide a skill set, many teachers struggle to reach all students on an individual level. However, AI could enable teachers to essentially be in two, six, or even 20 places at once by using a robotic teacher or advanced AI Mobile App.

In a recent article I wrote for Michigan AdvanceI challenged Governor Whitmer to consider how AI might impact the operations of state government. Forward-thinking school superintendents, college and university presidents – all should be doing the same.

AI is an area where China is surging ahead: it has plans to dominate in this technology. AI is compatible with the Communist government’s politics, policies, and economic survival. They clearly want to be the world leader in artificial intelligence by 2030. To get there, they are reinventing the way children are taught.

China is taking this technology to areas we would never tolerate in America and in our classrooms. Perhaps we should be learning from the advances and mistakes they are making now to plan for our own future:

ECampus News spells out ways AI will shape the future of work & higher education in this article:

Luminovo.ai brands themselves as a “thinking company that helps solve problems with the help of deep learning to maximize the full potential of your data”. We need to consider how AI applications can personalize the learning experience of students by suggesting individual learning objectives, selecting instructional approaches, and displaying exercises that are based on the interests and skill level of every student. Just as Netflix shows us online recommended films we might also like. Just as Spotify creates a personal playlist based on our online historical music picks, AI could suggest to students their most suitable educational setting. The provision of an individual learning journey would allow students not only to learn at their own pace but also gain the enjoyment and excitement that excellent education offers.

Planning For Disruption

Ready or not, change is coming. It is educational leaders’ responsibility to assure that along with change, comes progress for America.

While serving as a special assistant to the President of Wayne State University in 2005, I wrote a report, The New Education (R)evolution e-learning for Michigan Schools, foreshadowing how technology and personalized learning would disrupt education. These changes are playing out today.

Who is thinking about how future changes will impact Michigan and about how we might prepare for this disruptive education future?

We may not know the specifics today of how AI will change our future. But we DO know it will be significant. There is still time to prepare our schools, colleges, and universities for the inevitable changes that AI will bring.

As educators and educational leaders, we need to be embrace change that leads to progress.

Doing nothing is never a smart strategy.

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This article was first published by Dome Magazine and was written by Tom Watkins, Business Partner of WAY American School in China.

Tom Watkins has an eclectic career in both the public and private sectors. He served the citizens of Michigan as state superintendent of schools and director of the department of mental health. He has held leadership positions in higher education, business, and behavioral health. Watkins has an interest and passion in all things China and has written hundreds of article on the value of this most important bilateral relationship in the world today.