JULY 6, 2019


Artificial Intelligence Should Not Take the Place of Teachers in the Classroom

by Elpidio R. ESTIOKO

Instead of Artificial Intelligence (AI) controlling the teachers, it should be the other way around! Teachers need to embrace AI innovations to make them better teachers and help them automate basic teaching tasks. In short, let’s use AI as a means not the end of education!

It has been observed that AI or the use of machines continue to automate operations across industries and trades. It should not be the case in education although teaching in the machine age is a vital component in education. Instead… let’s use it as a tool because “It will make bad teachers good and good teachers better,” and… it’s not taking over the role of educators.

So, while technology or AI is a must for schools to be competitive in today’s education age, it should not be replacing the teachers in the classroom!

This is according to a research, which I agree with strongly, from the Clayton Christian Institute for Disruptive Innovation. Author and Lead Researcher Thomas Arnett in his report teaching in the Machine Age: How Innovation can make bad teachers good and good teachers better, he argued “that the teaching profession is not immune to the effects of scientific and technological progress. But instead of viewing technological progress as a threat, teachers should embrace AI innovations to help automate basic teaching tasks.”

Unknowingly, school administrators have been experiencing three “challenging circumstances” in their respective educational institutions, when in fact they can employ AI to solve these problems and enhance their instructional models, according to Arnett.

Arnett pointed out that school administrators can solve the first circumstance of lack of expert teachers by utilizing high quality curricula and online-learning resources to help their teacher’s boost educational outcomes. With the use of machines, Arnett said “Expert teachers carry out sophisticated teaching tasks, including developing instructional approaches, diagnosing difficulties, providing feedback on oral and written communication, fostering an achievement-oriented classroom culture, and talking with parents about their students’ individual education plans.”

As to circumstance number two, where teachers are confronted with an array of student needs, research shows they can use online tools to generate “better assessment data, provide learning resource recommendations, and give teachers more time and energy to work one-on-one and in small groups with students.” Well, this is falling under the category of differentiated instruction which is more doable when teachers automate assessments, instructional planning, and basic instruction.

For number three circumstance, teachers looking to teach more than academics can utilize non-cognitive factors (goal-setting, teamwork, emotional awareness, self-discipline, grit, etc.) which are strong indicators of determining student success in college and beyond. To help students develop deeper learning and non-cognitive skills, Arnett recommends using “innovations that commoditize teacher expertise citing software that provides adaptive tutoring in math and languages as examples.”

All these circumstances have to consider difficult students where the appropriate machine that is suited to their needs must be identified and utilized. There’s always a struggle even if the students are very responsible and disciplined. But, if we can use appropriate machines or tech gadgets and software in addressing these lapses, the degree of difficulty is minimized.

Linda Shalaway, in her article learning to teach… Not just for Beginners: The Essential Guide for All Teachers, she said that the goal is to help students feel good about themselves and their behavior in the classroom. This way, instruction is smoothly applied, retention solved, and students become successful in their education.

We have to be discreet and don’t take things personal. We have to remember and make sure that students understand that it’s their misbehavior we dislike, not them. Remember to give the misbehaving student a chance to respond positively by explaining not only what he or she is doing wrong, but also what he or she can do to correct it. Showing students that we care about them and their problems will help earn their respect and establish rapport.

We can’t avoid personalities to clash even with the presence of machines in the classroom engaging the students. Sometimes, despite our good and best intentions, we find ourselves disliking a student. The student maybe rude, disrespectful, disruptive, obnoxious, or otherwise annoying. It’s just human nature, some personalities clash! “But instead of feeling guilty about our feelings, we can take positive steps to improve them,” says school psychologist and teacher Shelley Krapes. I know this is easier said than done, but we need to understand it, be flexible about it, and practice it.

I do agree with Frank DiMaria, author of Allowing Technology to Amplify Quality Teaching, when he said that technology is useless… if it does not amplify classroom instructions because they are not properly utilized by qualified teachers.

Let us remember that to succeed in the 21st technology education, teachers must be prepared to use technology and must be trained to provide more adult guidance to students in modern technology gadgets. So, it’s not merely having a lap top for student use or a computer for internet use or a television in the classroom or a white board for illustrations, but knowing how to use them properly for effective classroom instructions.

So, it all boils down to an excellent and versatile teacher using the machines appropriately in the classroom to suit best the needs of students!____________________________________________________________

ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and an award-winning journalist here in the US. For feedbacks, comments… please email the author at estiokoelpidio@gmail.com

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