Educational technology is the use of both physical hardware, software, and educational theoretic to facilitate learning and improve performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources.
In EdTech, the most significant uses of AI are in content recommendation, AI-powered teaching assistants such as chat-bots performing specific tasks and accessibility functions such as text to speech and voice recognition.
The benefits of AI in EdTech
When used effectively, these tools are empowering teachers. Continual, formative assessment data is used as input for adaptive algorithms that power an output that is a work programme. This data can also be shared with the teacher, saving them hours in manually collecting the data and giving them eyes on the strengths and weaknesses of students.
“[AI is] empowering teachers … data can be shared with the teacher, saving them hours in collecting the data and giving them eyes on the strengths and weaknesses of students”.
The gains that AI is bringing are being made principally in the knowledge-based curriculum. The national curriculum for mathematics has three principal aims: become fluent in the fundamentals of mathematics (more knowledge-based), reason mathematically (more skills-based) and solve problems by applying their mathematical knowledge (also more skills-based).
AI, in all its forms, provides a fantastic way to help children in the first of these aims: to become fluent in the fundamentals of mathematics (for example, their knowledge of times tables and fraction/decimal/percentage equivalents). But I think we are a long way from AI being able to meaningfully help children develop the skills to reason mathematically and apply mathematical knowledge to solve complex problems.
AI in education is more than science fiction. One study found that 34 hours on Duolingo’s app are equivalent to a full university semester of language education. But educational AI and the broader category of educational technology (EdTech) go well beyond language learning. Companies like Carnegie Learning and Fuel Education apply artificial intelligence to K-12 learning. One of the most popular EdTech platforms, McGraw Hill’s ALEKS, is a web-based, AI-powered assessment and learning system that covers K-12, homeschool and even college content.