AI: Will they or will they not?

Students during an exam. Sam Ngendahimana.

This is the million franc question. Do we see a nearby future in which machines, such as programmed computers, take over the jobs of educators? With all the advancement in technology, most especially in the area of artificial intelligence, this phenomenon is worthy of further exploration, don’t you agree? 

As it is, artificial intelligence is already featuring in our classrooms; the grading systems that compute the students’ marksassign levels and predict the grade of a student at the onset of secondary, are a familiar example. This is very welcome help for a teacher who can put away the mundane and tedious work of feeding in numbers or grades instead of focusing on what is more important; facilitating learning. Interestingly, on line tutor programmes that feed you with the accurate information are another way artificial intelligence is participating in the advancement of the learning arena. These aid to address the needs of the students which the teacher who has a class of 45 students or so may not be able to address individually. Homework tasks plus projects and other assignments can be researched and completed swiftly by just a click of the internet or a flick of a Kindle or swipe of an iPad. That way, there is so much more learning as the students work independently to achievea similar task.

Very engaging lessons can be created and stored using artificial intelligence. Being able to navigate through the blood circulatory system using animations and three dimensions is definitely more captivating than a lecture or a chalk drawing on the blackboard.  Concrete memories of these lessons conjured up with the aid of artificial intelligence, are imprinted on the brains of the children because they are impressed with all the vivid details that they feature. A bonus is that they can be manipulated and used by a multiple number of teachers in the same or even those in faraway locations. 

As the ongoing heated debate of whether artificial intelligence will enable the computers to teach my three-year-old niece, or counsel a distraught student back onto the straight and narrow path to success rages on, there is a definite call for urgent and new conversations in the education sector about how we, as educators, are to identify, prepare and impart the necessary skills for a workforce that will be heavily supported by machines and artificial intelligence.


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