Rose Luckin is Professor of Learner Centred Design at the UCL Knowledge Lab, focusing on Artificial Intelligence and Educational Technology. Her research applies participatory methods to the development and evaluation of technology for learning and teaching.
In the last decade, her work has challenged the beliefs that the internet and new technologies are disrupting the learning process for young students. She instead focuses on how we can invent and adapt tools to respond to the needs of every student, and provide an environment that support 21st Century teaching. Those tools have now found a name: Artificial Intelligence. In the education field, however, it is difficult to define due to its interdisciplinary and mutable nature. Regarding this she says:
“The sort of AI I am talking about here is specific to education and has the catchy acronym AIEd. It has been the subject of academic research for more than 30 years and promotes the development of adaptive learning environments and other tools that are flexible, inclusive, personalised, engaging, and effective.”
According to Prof. Luckin, employing AI in the classroom would not only improve the teaching process, but also help fight class discrimination in admissions test. Her research raises some interesting questions in an age where the conversation is so dominated by AI. We are rapidly developing a culture in which we trust AI with all our personal, medical, and financial data, so why would we not also trust AI to educate our children? Perhaps the more important question is: how do we trust AI to educate our children?
The answer to this, Prof. Luckin suggests, lies in emphasising the need to discuss the societal impact of AI with children, along with the evolving relationship between human and robot. In a recent blogpost, she describes a future in which AI does not substitute for teachers but compliments them, showcasing the opportunity for the education system to actively include technology rather than passively accepting the web as the modern encyclopaedia.
Unlike many professions, where it is likely many jobs will be replaced by AI – for example taxi drivers are already at risk – teaching has a uniquely human element to it. The social skills developed in the classroom are arguably more important than the imparted knowledge, and is something AI will find very difficult to replicate. Should it even try? Probably not.
Given that class sizes are growing and the education sector is perpetually under-sourced, utilising AI to supplement the learning experience will give teachers breathing space to spend more time with those children who need it most. If implemented correctly, this will likely have a very positive impact on the future of education.Published in