The true power of AI for learning and valuable insights from recent implementations.
GUEST COLUMN | by Wyatt Oren
In recent years, AI has rapidly become ingrained in our daily lives, with nearly every sector finding ways to use the technology, and education is no exception.
Generative AI tools like ChatGPT are significantly reshaping today’s educational landscape as they gain popularity among students. Despite ample risk and reward, studies show that 72% of teachers have not received any guidance regarding the use of the technology. Given that the accuracy of these tools remains flawed, academic integrity has rapidly moved to the forefront of the AI discussion in education. To date, we’ve seen some schools ban AI while others embrace the technology, making it clear that success hinges on thoughtful implementation, and the right technologies to pair it with. And there is good reason to believe that the true power of AI in education lies in combining the technology with real-time engagement.
Real-time engagement in the classroom: how it addresses AI challenges
Real-time engagement (RTE) is technology which enables live interactions through voice, video, chat, interactive live-streaming and whiteboard capabilities, and when combined with AI, it can not only benefit educators and help them enhance the learning experience, but also address some of AI’s biggest challenges.
Cheating, for example, has become a huge concern for educators since the pandemic brought schools online, but teachers could use AI and machine learning to identify cues in real-time that indicate cheating, such as diverting eyesight or outside sounds. While some AI uses like ChatGPT weaken academic integrity, AI and RTE have the potential to reclaim it. Together, these technologies can provide real-time speech-to-text translations that offer accessibility for non-native speakers, as well as session summaries and auto-generated notes to help students focus on the core content. While, AI avatars can enhance personalized education by delivering tailored lesson plans that adapt to individual learning styles.
As with most emerging technologies, vulnerabilities and growing pains are a given. RTE, however, is the kind of technology that has so much upside that the potential enhancements outweigh the challenges, especially if educators receive proper training. One thing educators should consider is to collaborate with and listen to technology thought leaders to ensure that they know the ins and outs of the technology they wish to use to augment their teaching experiences.
Keeping the human touch
One of the most valuable insights to come from recent AI implementation is that it is not a full-on replacement, but a tool that can enhance human work. AI has the potential to revolutionize education, but it is not an end-all, be-all solution. Technology requires a human touch to be most effective, and this is certainly true in education, where there is no replacement for a teacher. In this space, AI will be used as a tool to amplify a teacher’s impact as well as a student’s capacity to learn. A human touch to complement AI will also be necessary to ensure the AI is functioning properly, does what it needs to do, and is accessible to all.
‘A human touch to complement AI will also be necessary to ensure the AI is functioning properly, does what it needs to do, and is accessible to all.’
When implemented properly with a human touch, AI and RTE will enhance the educator’s capabilities in the classroom. The technology can emphasize the unique qualities of educators, facilitating the refinement of teaching styles and improving student outcomes. For those with specific teaching styles that resonate with their students, AI and RTE can capitalize on what makes them so effective. If anything, it will make educators more important, rather than redundant.
What does the future hold?
Once AI and RTE are fully-integrated into the education landscape, there are many different possible outcomes. One trend that AI and RTE can help contribute to is personalization and “micro-credentialing,” where students learn more specifically and in-depth, and at their own pace. AI and RTE will also help broaden access to courses and subjects not offered at school, as students can use virtual avatars to access real-time courses outside of their classroom.
Perhaps the biggest future trend, though, will be how these technologies will grow access to education across the globe. Students will no longer be restricted to the teachers at their schools. Instead, they’ll have access to a global pool of educators and subjects to diversify and enhance the learning experience. This will level the playing field and help to provide a quality education to everyone.
In the short-term, AI and RTE may seem daunting to some, especially those who are skeptical of such technologies. But educators must look at the long-term and recognize how much it helps with the main goal of education: preparing students for the future. Because when implemented right, these technologies can shape not just education, but as a proxy, the world. When educators can fully harness the potential that AI and RTE have, they allow students to be more prepared for a constantly changing, technologically-advanced world, and more ready to make real change where it is needed the most.
Wyatt Oren is the Director for Education, Future of Work, and Telehealth at Agora, a global leader in real time communication, classroom technology, and virtual learning. In his role, Wyatt helps businesses, entrepreneurs, and institutions make experiences within AR/VR, mobile, metaverse, and desktop applications more engaging for users. Before joining Agora, Wyatt co-founded the edtech platform Applejax, as well as the social app Barhero Inc, which went on to be acquired by Airtab, inc in 2018.