AI for Education

The Promise (and Pitfalls) of AI for Education

Artificial intelligence could have a profound impact on learning, but it also raises key questions.

By Dennis Pierce, Alice Hathaway 08/29/18

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are no longer fantastical prospects seen only in science fiction. Products like Amazon Echo and Siri have brought AI into many homes,

Kelly Calhoun Williams, an education analyst for the technology research firm Gartner Inc., cautions there is a clear gap between the promise of AI and the reality of AI.

Artificial intelligence is a broad term used to describe any technology that emulates human intelligence, such as by understanding complex information, drawing its own conclusions and engaging in natural dialog with people.

Machine learning is a subset of AI in which the software can learn or adapt like a human can. Essentially, it analyzes huge amounts of data and looks for patterns in order to classify information or make predictions. The addition of a feedback loop allows the software to “learn” as it goes by modifying its approach based on whether the conclusions it draws are right or wrong.

AI can process far more information than a human can, and it can perform tasks much faster and with more accuracy. Some curriculum software developers have begun harnessing these capabilities to create programs that can adapt to each student’s unique circumstances.

For instance, a Seattle-based nonprofit company called Enlearn has developed an adaptive learning platform that uses machine learning technology to create highly individualized learning paths that can accelerate learning for every student. (My note: about learning and technology, Alfie Kohn in

GoGuardian, a Los Angeles company, uses machine learning technology to improve the accuracy of its cloud-based Internet filtering and monitoring software for Chromebooks. (My note: that smells Big Brother).Instead of blocking students’ access to questionable material based on a website’s address or domain name, GoGuardian’s software uses AI to analyze the actual content of a page in real time to determine whether it’s appropriate for students. (my note: privacy)

serious privacy concerns. It requires an increased focus not only on data quality and accuracy, but also on the responsible stewardship of this information. “School leaders need to get ready for AI from a policy standpoint,” Calhoun Williams said. For instance: What steps will administrators take to secure student data and ensure the privacy of this information?

more on AI in education in this IMS blog

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