ED 678

Week 4 — Artificial Intelligence in Education

When I tried to think of all the examples of artificial intelligence or machine learning I use in my classroom, I couldn’t think of much. Spell check, grading multiple choice tests, syncing grades from the LMS Canvas to Zangle and internet search engines were the only examples. The phrases artificial intelligence or machine learning have never been on my mind, but after this week I’m thinking they should be. Both concepts will inevitably play a huge role in our future.

Artificial intelligence is a concept in which machines carry out tasks that we consider smart. Machine learning, on the other hand, is when we give machines the big data and let the machine learn how to use it. The two work hand in hand: machine learning is driving artificial intelligence development. The most common examples in today’s pop culture are names such as Siri, Alexa, Spotify, Pandora, smart watches and Nest.

Even though I personally don’t use AI or ML in my classroom much, my students do when they use their smartphones. After reading this week’s resources and digging into more articles, I realized that students need to learn more about artificial intelligence and machine learning and experience examples of what they look like or could look like. Jack Ma, executive chairman of Alibaba Group, says we should not fear artificial intelligence or machine learning because humans have wisdom. He believes the educational system needs to change what we are teaching students. “In the last 30 years we made people like machines. In the next 30 years, we make machines like people. But the difference is machine should be machine-like and people should be people-like.” He also says the way we teach will make our kids lose jobs in the next 30 years because out of all of the math they learn, machines will learn how to do it better.

So what do I do? How do I prepare my students for the future? My gut tells me two things: students must always learn what it means to be human by learning, creating and reflecting; students also need to know how to problem solve and be smarter than the machines. It kind of reminds me of what I say to students who are glued to their smartphone: “Remember: You own the device; the device doesn’t own you.”