Machine Learning for Learning and Teaching

There is a buzz around Artificial Intelligence and its increasing role in every facet of society. There is also a great deal of debate about AI, its definition and its future trajectory. I recently talked to Raphael Nolden about his work in this area, especially in relation to machine learning for teaching and learning. Raphael is one of the founders of Amy, a personal maths tutor with potential to support learning in new ways.

Amy will use machine learning, a form of artificial intelligence, to create a personalised learning experience for students, focusing on teaching of Maths in senior high school. In its test phase it is targeting Level One of the NZ National Certificate in Education Achievement (NCEA) but it has potential to do much more. Raphael says Amy will learn with the learner, knowing what sort of support the learner needs and tailoring its approach accordingly. Amy personalises the learning, so two people learning the same mathematical concepts will have different experiences. The machine learning process means that algorithms will be able to make decisions without being specifically told to.

As a futurist I am interested in the implications of AI for teaching and learning. Some fear that artificial intelligence will see humans becoming irrelevant. Nolden says people will still want the human touch. He believes that AI can support learning by enabling teachers to focus on the unique emotional and social context of the learner, to provide inspiration, to make links and to make transdisciplinary connections. At the same time helpers such as Amy are scalable, meaning that more have access to learning. This is the democratisation of learning. Amy is developing in ways that may support learning and teaching in revolutionary ways.

From a wider perspective though, the pace of AI development poses risks as well as opportunities to humanity. The video below shows just a few of the ways in which AI is changing our lives for good.

But how real do we want AI to become? Do we want to create humanoid AI? It’s not just teachers that are at risk but potentially humanity. I’m keen to use AI but not sure where the advantages become outweighed by the risk to humanity. What are your thoughts?

2 comments on “Machine Learning for Learning and Teaching
  1. Teaching is fundamental to being human. We have been teaching ourselves and our young for millennia. It is an exciting and frustrating experience to learn and teach new ways to explain and expand our knowledge. If this can be done by AI, what are our brains supposed to do? What incentive will next generations have to grow the aptitude to teach?
    Being human is a collection of experiences and are not perfect not consistent. Robots perform consistently and perfectly. Low self-esteem will grow exponentially because nothing we do will ever be good enough.
    AI is real and it needs to be managed through policies somewhat similar to human cloning and now drones. Otherwise, our reality will get closer to movies like Frank and the Robot and dare I say The Matrix.

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