Technological progress is in full swing and not going to stop. It enters all areas of human life, in particular, education. Learning methods tend to improve and bring the academic world to new development levels. Professors’ work simplified at times. They do not have to check control papers manually or dictate lectures, can use a variety of multimedia tools for presenting information, communicate with students remotely.
Therefore, more and more educational tasks are delegated to machines, and the question arises: is it possible that nobody will need to live teachers in the near future? The day may come when scientists will create a digitalized classroom fully operated by artificial intelligence. Is this a good or a bad perspective? There are many heated debates around this issue. In this article, the experts from Pro-Papers consider the main pros of AI as a teacher and find out what may go wrong.
Here are the reasons why it works:
#1 Personalized education. Professors usually pay much attention to compiling a curriculum but do not care about how students perceive information. Robots help to assess learners’ feedback, understand which assignments and topics cause problems, where knowledge gaps and mistakes appear most often, adjust a learning strategy to make education easier and more efficient. AI can analyze young people’s behaviour, make conclusions on the most suitable study time, pace and form individual schedules.
#2 Intelligent tutoring systems can work without a live operator, set academic tasks and check results, participate in learning projects, support students and direct their activity. Such machines have extensive databases with algorithms for responding to different situations and requests.
#3 Robots can unite learners in groups for performing different tasks, compensate for one person’s weaknesses with groupmates’ strengths.
#4 Information moderation. Teachers have to create and distribute learning materials: textbooks, electronic notes, tutorials, etc. If this work will be undertaken by machines, human tutors will have more time and energy for preparing for lectures and communicating with learners.
#5 Demonstrativeness. Robots can show things that professors can only explain. Many abstract concepts turn into physical experiments. Virtual reality is one of the most popular trends in today’s academic world. It helps to create authentic environments, travel through time and space without leaving a classroom, plays a particularly important role for majors where students should learn by doing and form practical skills. Immersion in a topic allows to understand it more profoundly, increases a student engagement level and readiness for performing labour responsibilities. Young people can learn to operate a jet or conduct surgeries, explore ocean and distant planets or get to ancient epochs. There is nothing impossible with AI.
#6 Essay grading software. College essay writing is an indispensable part of the educational process, and professors spend much time reading students’ papers. Special software can access a text by a number of criteria and add a mark to a database.
#7 Restless devotion. Robots never get ill, have a bad mood, want to eat and sleep. They are ready to work day and night to serve people. Learners can receive support at any time not feeling awkward because they bother a professor at one’s free time.
#8 No prejudice. There are no favourite and unloved students because artificial intelligence treats everyone equally.
#9 Shrinking a staff budget. An increase in the number of students led to the need to create more classes, hiring more professors and spending more money on their wages. Educational institutions can hire only one or two tech specialists to monitor robots’ operation and redirect professors’ salaries to other purposes.
#10 Virtual humans and androids. In order to compensate for the lack of live communication, tech specialists pack artificial intelligent in a form that is most common and pleasant for us. High-tech human prototypes were just a plot from science fiction until recent times. But they are quite real today and create a social dynamic necessary to replace live teachers.
#11 Gamification. Robots can organize exciting gaming activities and make learning more fun.
#12 Machine translation. A robot can perceive and speak dozens of languages, which is very beneficial for classes with second language students.
#13 More opportunities for people with special needs. AI compensates for physical weaknesses and allows everyone to receive knowledge on an equal basis with healthy people. For example, a disabled person can use a stand-in robot to simulate presence in a classroom.
Here are the reasons to be skeptical about robot teachers:
#1 Cost. It is clear that educational institutions will have to spend much money to purchase expensive technics, install and repair it, maintain smooth operation throughout a whole school year. Introducing AI is possible only with generous investors’ support, therefore, this process will not be fast and easy for most schools and universities.
#2 Addiction. If relying on robots in everything, people feel helpless when machines fail to perform their functions.
#3 Lack of intrapersonal communication. People accustomed to interacting with robots do not know how to make friends and cooperate with colleagues, which prevents them from building normal relationships. Therefore, smart machines may be good assistants for professors, but AI cannot fully replace live educators, assess learners’ emotional state and support them psychologically.
#4 Unemployment. Many talented teachers will lose their jobs being unable to compete with robots.
#5 Innovations. Machines are great at implementing learning strategies developed by experienced specialists. But robots cannot come up with their own ideas, offer something fresh and innovative. Therefore, human influence on technology always will be high. And if there will be no educators-practitioners, who will introduce new learning methods?
#6 Decision making. Computers are very smart today. But it is still rather challenging for them to solve unexpected problems and cope with unusual situations that arise in any practical activity. That is why young people should learn problem-solving from live professors.
#7 Information loss. Any computer may be hacked or broken. If AI cannot be restored through repairs, unfavourable circumstances are fraught with great losses.
If comparing the number of pros and cons of robots in class, you will see that this trend has much more benefits than drawbacks, therefore, it makes no sense to discard it. However, it is worth using AI in moderation to take maximum advantage. Educational institutions should find ideal balance allowing to combine technology with live communication, put a human in the centre of the learning processes and surround one with helpful advanced tools. This will make professors’ work easier and lead students to unprecedented academic heights.
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