Much has been written about the exponential evolution of Artificial Intelligence making humans obsolete in every field. The latest advances in generative AI, in particular, have captured the world’s attention, with a humanistic conversational-style approach to problem-solving touted as making teaching redundant, and the ability to produce art, music and writing, a threat to the last human frontier: creativity. Instead of working against the grain, however, what if educators could harness the power of AI, combined with their "teaching quotient" to supercharge education with "emotional intelligence", asks Dr. Joseph Nettikaden, Chief Information Officer at Esol Education.
By: Dr. Joseph Nettikaden, Chief Information Officer, Esol Education
Imagine a future where students start their morning for school with an automated alert estimating the arrival time of their school transportation, allowing them time to be prepared for pick up. While they wait, or during their commute to school, the biosensors on their personal devices detect their emotional state of mind, or students report how they feel on an interactive screen enroute, sending a signal to their teachers in advance about the overall mental wellbeing of the class. This helps teachers set the tone for their morning interaction with their students, allowing them to elevate student engagement for the day, selecting appropriate warmup activities before each lesson.
AI-powered technology, using facial recognition, automates student and teacher attendance seamlessly on campus, alleviating the need to manually track attendance. Once inside the classroom, it’s able to quickly group students based on learning styles, abilities and attainment levels, matching them with planned activities for the week ahead. When students login to their AI powered learning management systems, lessons and other activities are suggested with flexible pathways to achieve and demonstrate mastery of the lesson objectives. Teachers have enough insights based on previous activities and assessments and the system prompts recommendations for personalized approaches for the individual students, thus enriching the teacher-student interaction.
If the facial recognition can sense emotional states, it also provides teachers with a way to provide social-emotional support, as needed, to get students into the right mindset before starting their learning activities. Whether by polling students or by continuous observation, AI can collate data and provide recommendations to teachers for better classroom management strategies for the day.
Automatic assessments for students and differentiated learning plans are suggested or created for teachers based on the student progress and mastery of skills. Standardized external assessments are also automated by an AI-enabled system, relieving the tremendous effort of the planning and administering the tests.
Leveraging a seamless AI-powered learning environment can free up valuable time for focusing on the most important aspect of education: building connections, inspiring curiosity, creating engaging experiences, enhancing relationships, deepening trust and supporting social-emotional needs.
When students need help with further explanation or with assignments, access to an AI tutor is at hand, part of the online learning system. The AI tutor provides a tailored learning and support experience to the individual student based on his or her learning progress and assessment, rather than a “one-size-fits-all” approach.
These are just a few simple scenarios in which AI can enhance the teaching and learning and experience within and beyond the classroom. The applications are varied and can be tailored to suit diverse purposes.
Whether a simple application such as collating cognitive testing data using machine learning, or more complex behavior observation facilitated by facial recognition, AI can be used to flag learning delays or difficulties much earlier in the early years, helping with early identification and intervention. On the other hand, for upper secondary students, college counseling and matching appropriate study programs can be identified earlier, allowing for a detailed college application plan to be generated, aligning student aspirations with the appropriate college and career programs, helping direct student efforts for stronger outcomes.
Another area that could benefit schools is the selection of learning resources based on the effectiveness on student outcomes. Currently there are on average about between 30 and 40 online learning subscriptions which need objective review and efficacy analysis and this can be achieved more easily with an AI-powered system.
Managing the latest pedagogical approaches, measurement tools and learning technologies, as well as organizing assessments, reporting and parent communication are all part of the modern teachers’ daily challenge. With the right capabilities, robust policies and guidelines and by leveraging a seamless AI-powered learning environment, leaders can support teachers by automating as many manual tasks as possible. This will free up teachers' valuable time, allowing them to focus on the most important aspect of education: building connections, inspiring curiosity, creating engaging experiences, enhancing relationships, deepening trust and supporting social-emotional needs.
Dr. Nettikaden is responsible for setting the technology vision and strategy for Esol Education, and overseeing the integration of technology into Esol schools' curricula, with a strong focus on the administration, operations and implementation of technology programs. Dr. Nettikaden also explores new, innovative technologies to enhance teaching and learning at all Esol Education schools. He manages the technology departments at all Esol schools, which strive to provide an exceptional user experience to students and teachers, by taking advantage of organizational synergies and the standardization of operational processes. Dr. Nettikaden earned a Doctorate in Education from Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California, MBA from Northern Illinois University and MS in Information Technology from Northwestern University. Apart from spending time with his family, he is passionate about new technologies and understanding the impact of these technologies on the daily lives of people.