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We’ve been thinking about AI all wrong, here’s why

As humans, we’ve long been infatuated with the idea of artificial intelligence. We’ve been toying with the idea since long before AI was even a possibility.

In pop culture, one of the first representations of AI came when movies were still silent… Released in January 1927, Metropolis was a German silent film based on Thea von Harbou’s novel of the same name. The movie tells of a robot, given human likeness, that was created to destroy the city. The first feature film with sound, The Jazz Singer appeared 10 months later, in October 1927.

Metropolis was so ahead of its time, that it wasn’t until 28 years later that the “Logic Theorist” – now considered to be the first artificial intelligence – was created by Allen Newell and Herbert A. Simon.

As time went on, we watched HAL 900, SkyNet, the Terminator, Agent Smith, and Ava, all imagined AIs with human voices and/or appearances. But they were all about the replication, or replacement of humans. Even worse – they all had their own agenda based on power and control.

Is this why today’s AI is so scary to us? For nearly a century, we’ve been telling stories about our own obsolescence. How we’ll create the very thing that replaces us.

AI’s place in the classroom

In our little world of education though, we’ve been thinking about this all wrong… Teachers will never be replicated or replaced, our children will never be taught by machines. Instead, AI should be built to empower teachers. Think Tony Stark’s JARVIS, Star Trek’s Data, or Interstellar’s TARS.

Interstellar TARS wave GIF

Those AIs were faithful, helpful, and empowering. They enable their human counterparts to be more human, while handling data, making calculations, completing tasks, and checking boxes behind the scenes. This is how we can use artificial intelligence to empower educators today.

Creating guidelines around AI

As with any new technology, there is a flood of AI products entering the market. Many educators are already using AI in their classrooms, and a wave of OpenAI™ powered tools are promising to deliver personalization to every student. But, is this the right way to approach it?

We haven’t even settled the debate on which content and materials should be used by teachers and students. Some of the most popular curricula in the country are not appropriate for classroom usage. In ELA alone, 40% of programs still teach multiple practices that run counter to research on effective reading instruction, and two out of three programs fail to address phonemic awareness.

Yet, somehow we are shocked at reports of learning loss. That presents an interesting question. Who decides what is appropriate for a student or not in the age of AI? Who will determine what curriculum an AI uses? What benchmarks will we use in an age where we can generate content at will?

The answer is simple, and it brings us back to our friendly AIs. We shouldn’t be putting AI in front of students. Instead, it belongs behind our educators where it can help them be more human.

Where AI belongs

The focus belongs on teachers. We should enable them to better engage students throughout the educational journey. There needs to be a system built around educators that enables them to better understand and connect with their students. The teacher is the guide to students that helps them inquire, discuss, explore, and connect.

So, the future of education really looks like this – just as JARVIS helps Tony Stark run his lab, the teacher is still at the helm of the classroom, but they have a new partner. It’s an AI trained on the highest-quality education content, and built to understand student learning. It can see which students are lagging, and who is outperforming. It can alert the teacher to student needs and recommend proven materials to provide a remedy.

Tony Stark in his lab GIF

The AI also can automatically grade, provide suggested feedback, and identify key points in lessons, effectively reducing the administrative workload that educators face, so they can spend more of their classroom time with students.

This is how we can take the next leap forward in education, recover from our lost time, uplift student performance, and perhaps most importantly, keep the human things, human.

Kiddom seamlessly connects the most critical aspects of teaching and learning on one platform.

For the first time, educators can share and manage digital curriculum, differentiate instruction, and assess student work in one place. Learners can take assessments online, see student performance data with the click of a button, and teachers have the insight and tools they need to create individual learning paths.


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