There are two technologies that have really captured the attention of educators as well as futurists. These are artificial intelligence and virtual reality. What are the implications of these new technologies in education? Quite simply they can revolutionize our educational system. The question is, at what cost to the educator?
There are many articles that state that technology will never replace a teacher, but I am of the opinion that technology might not replace a great teacher, but technology is already replacing the traditional, average teacher.
Let’s consider a classroom of a traditional teacher:
Students come into the classroom and begin to work on a worksheet. The teacher then delivers the content for that class. It might be a lecture, video, or reading from a text. Then the students do an activity with that newly learned content. Then the teacher offers more work to practice the content usually in the form of homework. Generally this is a standard day in a classroom of a traditional teacher.
Do you see anything in this example that cannot be done by Artificial Intelligence or a Virtual World? Here are five things that an AI/VR school system can do just as easily as a traditional teacher. (Notice that I use the word traditional several times when depicting the teacher.)
- An AI system can ask questions to a student, recognize if the response was accurate or not, and ask another question exactly at that student’s instructional level. An AI educator system is the quintessential example of personalized learning. The computer will know the students and their abilities to an extent that might not be possible for a traditional teacher. The AI system can analyze student responses and know the exact next question that students need to deepen their thinking and knowledge.
- An AI system would have the entire internet at its reach and can be used as an educational tool for the students. So as an AI system is a part of the World Wide Web, it would have the ability to send content, resources, videos, articles etc. to the student based on what they need to learn or study next. The amount of additional resources and ever-changing discoveries is staggering. We know that knowledge is rapidly increasing on a global scale. An AI system would be able to use the most relevant resources and the most current studies to support the student in any content.
- The AI system would also be connected to all other educational AI systems around the globe. Consider the concept of distance learning. Consider the idea of a global classroom where students from around the world can work together in a learning experience. An AI education system would be connected to all other AI education systems so that when students need to work on group projects, the AI systems would join those students together remotely.
- Adding Virtual Reality to the AI educational system can take students to the doorstep of the learning experience. With virtual reality, science class will be taught in a simulated science lab, music class will be taught in the famous French Opera House or in an electronic music lab based out of San Francisco and Language Arts can be taught by Edgar Allen Poe. With virtual reality the learning experience no longer has to be in a classroom, it doesn’t even have to be on school grounds. With VR it doesn’t even have to be on the ground. Field trips can be to ancient Rome and gym class can be hiking Yellowstone National Park.
- The AI/VR system is 24/7. Because the AI/VR system is all on the web, it is a 24/7 learning experience. School can be any time. Personalized learning becomes the norm and each student becomes an expert of their interests. From struggling learners to those that are exceptionally intelligent, the AI/VR education system will know their needs, and be able to work with them whenever they wish. Of course there will be required milestones and benchmark requirements. But time becomes a non-issue. Your grade level, 1st, 2nd, 11th, means nothing. You move at your pace because your AI/VR system is there for you wherever and whenever.
So what does all this mean for educators? I read an interesting quote on the internet: Technology won’t replace all teachers… but teachers who use technology will probably replace teachers who do not.
Great teachers will not be replaced with technology. Great teachers will facilitate learning with the help of technology. Great teachers also have another secret weapon—they exhibit the human element. Great teachers are compassionate, empathetic, kind, caring, and the list goes on. Great teachers foster these characteristics and share their love of learning with their students. Great teachers who possess these human elements will not be replaced by technology.