Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most significant technology breakthroughs of the past few years — one that is, in many ways, reshaping how educators teach and think about education.
AI-powered tools and algorithms can intelligently respond to new data, allowing them to adapt to new situations based on information they gather about students. In the classroom, these tools can help instructors flexibly adjust policies and teaching methods to meet student needs.
Here are five ways AI is being used in classrooms right now.
1. Immersive Language Education
Full immersion language programs — which surround students with the language they’re learning — have been proven to be some of the most effective ways to learn a new language. In general, immersion has been demonstrated to help students learn languages more effectively than traditional language teaching methods like memorization of vocabulary or grammar rules.
However, immersion programs aren’t a possibility for most schools. Instead, educators are turning to new technology that combines AI with virtual reality (VR) environments. These programs allow students to experiment with their use of the language by using a program that responds to them in real-time.
When equipped with microphone headsets and motion-tracking controllers, students can point to objects in the virtual environment and ask for their names in their target language. Virtual characters can then respond to their questions and engage them in conversation.
The technology is being trialed for the first time this year. If successful, it may become a standard fixture in language classrooms.
2. Personalized Education Assistance
Teachers can’t provide one-on-one support to every student in the classroom at all times — especially in schools that aren’t well-funded and have larger class sizes.
Some educators, looking to provide struggling students with the personalized support they need, are turning to AI solutions for help.
In one case study, first-grade teachers at a New Jersey elementary school trialed the AI teaching assistant HappyNumbers as a way to improve students’ math skills. In the case study, the assistant was used to help students who scored a nine out of 48 on a preliminary math benchmark. By the end of the year, nearly all students who were assisted with the software improved their scores to a 35.
Students who worked with the tool were also more independent and more able to succeed with less teacher assistance, according to teachers involved in the study.
3. Monitoring Students’ Web Habits
In many classrooms, kids stay constantly connected to the internet — which can make it difficult for educators to monitor the sites their students regularly visit.
To keep an eye on students’ web habits, one school turned to GoGuardian, an AI-powered content monitoring tool. The software intelligently flags dangerous or harmful content. Then, when students attempt to access that content, it reports their attempts to school administrators.
School officials say the tool has also been an effective deterrent for students who went looking for trouble online — bad behavior dropped off considerably since its launch.
4. AI-Powered Test Prep
Some schools and test prep centers are using AI-powered test prep programs to prepare students for standardized tests.
These test prep programs use AI-powered practice drills, customized lesson plans and personalized assistance software to boost students’ grades on practice exams and prepare them as well as possible for the real test. These programs cut down on the time students need to prep for important exams, giving educators more time to fully cover test material.
5. Automating Grade-Keeping and Homework Tracking
Most educators spend much of their time on tedious work — like marking up tests and entering scores into a grade book. This work can cut into teaching time and often can’t be easily automated. New AI tools might change this.
CENTURY’s new AI platform uses AI to automate everyday tasks and reduce the work burden placed on teachers. One math teacher reported the technology saves him an hour per class each week on grading and assessing student work — giving him more time to focus on teaching.
Improving the Classroom With AI
Recent breakthroughs in computer technology are changing how educators approach teaching. AI, one of the biggest breakthroughs, is already being applied to classrooms in a few different ways.
Educational software developers are taking advantage of the technology’s flexible nature to create tools that can customize lesson plans, monitor students’ online activity, provide personalized teaching and assist with test prep. While these instruments aren’t widespread yet, their reception has been positive where trialed.
In the future, these tools will likely become even more widely adopted, and instructors will find new ways to bring AI to the classroom.
Caleb Danziger is a tech writer and blogger. He co-owns thebytebeat.com with his friend Jenna.