Will AI replace teachers?

Koen Timmers

Educator - Author - Keynote speaker - Global Teacher Prize 2017 and 2018 finalist

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not new. It already had its victory in 1996 when Deep Blue defeated poor Kasparov in chess. From all innovations, to me AI is the real deal. Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, drones, etc. AI will be a game changer for sure. But how will it change peoples' lives and will it affect education? 

As AI to you is still that thing which is pretty vague, check Sophia the robot. AI is not the future, it is already there. Chatbots who are helping you out while tracking your packet on Fedex, fancy video games, ... I was personally impressed by Google Duplex in which a AI telephone assistant makes a hairdresser appointment. You can already feel that soon people working at call centers will be replaced by computers. And some people will like the fact their question will always be quickly answered right while others don't like the fact they are having a phone call with a machine. I know some people who even don't do voice mails for the same reason. But I'm pretty sure that future generations will have different opinions. 

Research pointed out that 10% of jobs will be lost due to AI and 15% of jobs will be created. It's just that we will need other skills. And hey AI isn't going to replace ALL jobs. Are you using voice control in your car at all times? How do you feel about internet banking right now? 

But when starting to speak about AI in education people seem to feel different. I guess we still visualize AI in terms of robots and we don't want robots to teach our children right? Well here's the thing. Robots are already entertaining elder people. Check Robot Zora. Yes... I know. I'd love to know how you feel while reading this fact. My guess would be that in the first stage AI will only be able to do some easy jobs. But at the same time it would be pretty odd thinking that AI isn't going to be more than that knowing that there weren't computers 100 years ago. How will life be in the year 4500? Hard to say. I believe Gates, Musk and Hawking are right. Robots can be dangerous. There are rumours about South Korean people creating an army of robots. We don't want that right? 

At this very moment I'm teaching my students for 50% at home using a webconferencing tool. My students are used to drop their questions in the chat. Works really well. Chatbots answering these questions would be something what would be really come in handy for me and my students. I also use videos to flip my classroom. AI answering my students questions, helping them to improve their skills and taking their emotions in account by using Emotion Recognition software would be wonderful. But how about privacy!?

Now here's the thing. Education is more than memorizing facts, knowledge acquisition and assessment. I was asked by a journalist a few weeks ago about my thought about how Bridge deals with education. Teachers need to follow a script on a tablet. I soon made a comparison with robots and no... I don't like this idea. A lesson is not a script. It is something nasty, emotional, difficult. I needed 10 years before I was able to teach without creating a lesson plan and not freaking out when a students asked me something I didn't know. A teacher is a pedagogical engineer who needs to apply the right learning approach at the right moment: learning by doing, instructing, flipping the classroom, collaborative learning, etc. Pedagogy is key. No app for pedagogy, not even a robot. 

And then I'd like to mention the E-word. How can you teach about Trump, gun regulations, Syria? This reminds me about my debate about whether Google is making people stupid. Some people think it does. Well, we need to bring empathy into education otherwise we are the ones creating robots.

6 teachers wrote their manifest about how education should look like in 2030. How AI may affect education in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. You can find the book here: www.teaching4IR.com. The book is available on Amazon. 


by PLN Education

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