AI and the Future of Education

by The Educator CIRCLS Team

Earlier this year, CIRCL, now CIRCLS, hosted a panel of 22 experts in Artificial Intelligence (AI) to discuss two broad questions:

  1. What will educational leaders need to know about AI in support of student learning in order to have a stronger voice in the future of learning, to plan for the future, and to make informed decisions?
  2. What do researchers need to tackle beyond the ordinary to generate the knowledge and information necessary for shaping AI in learning for the good?

CIRCLS just released the report that came out of that panel discussion: AI and the Future of Learning: Expert Panel Report. In addition to the report, CIRCLS also hosted a webinar with 4 of the panelists to talk about the issues covered in the expert panel and the report. One of the topics discussed was classroom orchestration, which refers to how teachers support their students as they move between different kinds of activities (like individual work, small group work, and whole class discussion). Think about an orchestra and all work that goes into the beautiful music they play together. Orchestration in a classroom involves the multi-tasking role of the teacher, both behind the scenes and in real time, that makes a classroom work.

As a teacher, can you imagine a scenario for how AI could be helpful to you, for example, during small group work? Would it be helpful to have an assistant help you create groupings based on what you understand about each student, the relationships you’ve seen among them, what is known about grouping from the research literature, and what happened last week when you had breakout groups? An AI agent might be able to assist you like this in the future. Or what if you could have an AI agent in each breakout group? What if you could tell the AI agent to alert you if students were off-topic or if their interaction pattern suggested they were arguing and could benefit from your (teacher) presence? What if the AI agent could help assess whether the group seemed to be understanding the topic they were discussing or missing the point? As a teacher who can’t be with all groups at the same time, an AI agent could augment your classroom orchestration abilities.

Pragmatically, there’s a lot to do when breaking out into groups and this is just one way an AI assistant could help. What if the AI agent could help you reflect on what students said in a whole class discussion and make recommendations for what to do in tomorrow’s class? What if the agent could give you a summary of who seems to be understanding and what they understand based on the assignment they turn in? What if the agent could also tell you if students are covering related materials in a different class and help you work with the other teacher? What would you want the agent to do to help you in your class? More importantly, in which cases will the AI be interfering with your teaching rather than enhancing it?

The AI and the Future of Learning: Expert Panel Report goes into other scenarios and we’ll look forward to more opportunities to discuss the report. We’re looking for more educators to join us in thinking about what the report says and in working with experts who want your input. If you’re interested in learning more and potentially being part of future work with CIRCLS and other AI experts, please complete this form.