Teachers across the global ponder the question of how to differentiate their instruction for students. The individual needs vary based on their development stage, the subjects that are taught, multiple intelligences and even interests. How do teachers create meaningful lessons that meet the requirements of one student let alone a classroom full of unique learners? Artificially intelligent technology that adapts to the user can tackle these challenges when it is used meaningfully.
About the author
Oluwafunmilayo Ajayi is a change management consultant, specializing in the education sector. As an advisor, she leads school principals through cycles of self-evaluation that take a more in-depth look at the impact of classroom instruction on student development, as well as, their academic outcomes. Differentiation is always one of the top 5 areas of classroom practices that are in need of support. This insight has led her down the path of exploring AI as an option to support students.
How AI is being employed in education now
The closest thing to an adaptive technology on the market today involves students sitting in front of a screen, answering questions in the form of colorful games. These games generally contain pre-populated questions that adjust up or down based on the student’s responses.
Real Problems are not addressed
- The current technology for classroom instruction is excellent at adjusting the levels of questioning according to how students answer questions. As discussed by Kathryn Drummond, learning disabilities such as dyslexia can be a challenge to detect in conventional methods. Online programs such as Fast ForWord by Neuroplan are working towards treatments for learning disabilities. However, their service is not available for the general classroom and the price range is $250-$500 per month.
- Automated curriculum tends to only focus on generating quantitative data about a student’s strengths and areas of need. There is very little emphasis put on the quality of their progress. For example, ALEKS by McGraw Hill is a web-based learning and assessment platform. The program uses a compilation of research to target a student’s placement within a domain. Mastery of topics within a domain is tracked as students move through the course.
Next Level of personalized learning
Advances in AI have created opportunities to push beyond the canned responses of right and wrong answers to provide a more “human-like” aspect.
- With an AI-assisted program, each student can get support that is distinctive, including physical and learning disabilities.
- Qualitative data is more difficult to capture but it provides a fuller picture of a user when it is used in conjunction with quantitative data. For instance, an AI program with a qualitative enhancement could provide information about the expression a student uses as they read. Instant feedback and support on reading with expression can lead an increased understanding of the text that is being read.
An example of how AI could bring education to the next level:
Mrs. Jones has spent the last week teaching her 2nd-grade students strategies for chunking words like those in this Starfall video and how to stop and ask themselves if what they just read made sense. Armed with either digital or paper books, the students go off to practice their new skills with the aid of their reading buddy.
The reading buddy has a catalog of all the available leveled readers in its database so it can support the student’s independent (reading material that a student can read on their own without support), instructional (reading material that a student can master with instructional interventions) and frustration (reading materials that are beyond the student’s current capacity) levels.
Stretched out across the classroom students sit with their headsets on, listening to AI version of Mrs. Jones providing praise and support as needed.
Such as: OK, Johnathan what did you just read in that last sentence? I heard you having trouble with… What strategy did you use to… tell me more about that… Listen to me read that last sentence. Did you notice how my voice changed when I read the word “wow”? Now you try it.
Evolution of the teacher’s role
AI programs that contain personalized chatbots or other enhancements can be a second ear and hand in the classroom providing more time for teachers to conference with individual students about the progression and quality of their work.
Get in touch for consultative projects and partnerships
In my 20 plus years of experience from working in the fields of education and organizational development, I can see a lot of untapped problems where technologies such as AI can provide solutions. I am therefore interested in supporting Edtech companies apply AI in the right direction with my domain knowledge.
Since 2011, I have been working with school districts and curriculum providers as educational consultant in Chicago. My most recent assignment was in Southeast Asia, where I lead a team of advisors on a Ministry of Education reformation project.
I am interested in networking and collaborating with people and companies in the Edtech space. What problems are you trying to tackle in your Edtech company or project? How did you solve them?
Feel free to get in touch with me on LinkedIn.
Change Management Consultant, Education Sector. Writing about all things related to AI in education and organizational development.