Interaction with learners

Schools seek help from AI teaching assistants

The Future of Everything covers the innovation and technology that is transforming the way we live, work and play, with monthly issues on health, money, cities and more. This month is Education & Learning, online from August 6 and in the newspaper August 13.

Not all robots are good at math. Take ProJo, a program researchers are testing to help students of all ages spot their mistakes in math and science, embodied in a tiny humanoid robot. Instead of replacing an instructor, ProJo acts as a peer, inviting the students themselves to help them solve problems. “Let’s take turns,” he might say. “I’m not that good at it.”

ProJo can also help students work together and assess their growth and weaknesses, both as a robot and on a computer screen. It’s one of the many AI-powered development teaching aids that scientists and educators believe could support the classrooms of tomorrow.

Typically, AI education products perform a function, such as assessing a student’s literacy, tailoring tools for individual learners, or performing administrative functions such as grading. . Next-gen tools can do all of this on one platform, sometimes serving as a peer learning partner, group facilitator, and monitor for educators – a kind of overpowered teacher assistant personalized to every student.

Educators have long feared that such a tool could replace them, says Lalitha Vasudevan, executive director of the Digital Futures Institute at Teachers College at Columbia University. Instead, she says, thoughtfully designed AI tools could help detect patterns of behavior and performance that a busy human might otherwise miss, thus improving good teachers and requiring more educators, and more. data savvy.