Does AI Have a Promising Future in K-12 Education?

Picture of Tara Gibson By Tara Gibson

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artifical intelligence (AI)Technology has transformed over the last few years, turning from futuristic ideas into today’s reality. Artificial intelligence is one of these transformative technologies that is now shaping the way businesses, governments, and educational institutions do things. Artificial intelligence is making its way into K-12 classrooms, schools and districts across the United States, sparking questions on how it will be utilized and what benefits the technology will have for staff, faculty, and of course students.

In our day to day lives we’re using AI more than we know. By simply asking “Siri, what is the weather like today?” or “Alexa, play this song” we’re tapping into intelligent digital assistance, which is a form of artificial intelligence. As AI moves into the K-12 education world, the Tech Advocate tells us that experts expect AI in education to grow by “47.50% during the period 2017-2021.” With that being said, it's time to get comfortable with artificial intelligence technology, as it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Related Blog: How Technology Can Support Statewide School Safety Initiatives

AI in K-12 Education

Here are a few ways AI can be utilized in K-12 classrooms, according to Tech Advocate:

Easing the Workload for Teachers

Instead of grading each piece of work individually, which can take up a bulk of extra time, technology allows teachers the ability to have their students work automatically graded with AI. As the technology develops, soon teachers will be able to automate more than just simple multiple-choice questions.

Individualized Learning

AI has the ability to take note of a student’s strengths and weaknesses, identifying where they may be struggling. With this information the Tech Advocate explains AI will be able to provide students with the tools they need for success. Plus, AI can provide this information to teachers and parents to help students get the help they need.

Identify Weaknesses in the Classroom

Similarly to identifying an individual student’s weaknesses, AI can also determine if there are parts of the curriculum as class of students are struggling with. For example, if a high percentage of students get the same question wrong, this information allows the teacher to review material and dive into that subject more to ensure students understand. Also, if there are areas that are more difficult for a teacher, then supplemental AI teaching tools can be utilized as well, according to Tech Advocate.

What Students Should Know About AI

As AI becomes more prevalent, today’s students will likely run into this advanced technology by the time they’re hitting the job market. For this reason, students must understand what AI is, and how it will be used in the future. According to Forbes, “the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) and the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) launched the AI for K-12 Working Group (AI4K12) to define for artificial intelligence what students should know and be able to do”. The steering committee of AI4K12 came up with 5 key points, or ideas, that every student should know:

  1. Computers Perceive the World Using Sensors
    Computers have the ability to “hear” and “see” well enough to be practically useful, which is one of the biggest achievements of AI. Forbes explains, students should understand that machine perception of spoken language or visual imagery requires extensive domain knowledge. Graduates should be able to identify and demonstrate the limitations of machine perception systems and use open machine learning tools to train perceptual classifiers.

  2. Agents Maintain Models/Representations of the World and Use Them for Reasoning
    The concept of representation in AI is the way a map represents a territory, or how a diagram represents a board game. Computers are able to construct these representations by using data, and the representations can be manipulated by the use of reasoning algorithms that derive new information from what is known already. AI4K12 wants high school students to understand this, as well as make use of elementary data structures to program their own simple inference algorithms.

  3. Computers Can Learn From Data
    Computers have the ability to learn from data, which is also known as machine learning. Machine learning algorithms allow computers to create their own representations by using training data. This can be supplied by people or even acquired by the machine itself, according to Forbes. AI4K12 wants high school students to be able to train a network and code simple applications using open tools.

  4. Making Agents Interact Naturally with Humans is a Substantial Challenge for AI Developers
    Understanding people is difficult, especially for intelligent agents. For humans inferring a person’s future intentions by observing their actions is challenging, and if Robots are to be a part of our society in any way, they’ll need to acquire this human skill. Forbes further explains, “High school students should be able to construct context-free grammars to parse simple languages and use open tools to construct a chatbot. They should also be able to use sentiment analysis tools to extract emotional tone from text.”

  5. AI Applications Can Impact Society in both Positive and Negative Ways
    It’s important for students to understand the ways AI contributes to their lives. Forbes tells us that the societal impacts of AI involve these two questions: what applications should AI be used for and what ethical criteria should AI systems be required to meet? Students should know the ethical construction of AI systems and know how to evaluate them and describe the ethical or societal impact questions raised by them.

Some of the above can be confusing, which is why it’s great to know that AI4K12 will be developing guidelines and online resources for educators.

Today’s K-12 Technology

Artificial intelligence is certainly up and coming, and continually developing as time progresses. K-12 schools can also utilize other technologies to help streamline communications, address bullying, and bolster school security and safety.

A school notification app is a great way to improve parent communication, as well as keep parents and guardians up to date on school closings due to weather, friendly reminders, and more.A two-way anonymous tip texting platform is a useful technology for schools to address and tackle bullying incidents. Empowering students to report bullies anonymously is a great tool as some kids don't feel comfortable coming forward. 

Mobile panic button technologies are gaining popularity as a key school safety application. Communicating with school administrators and staff as well as first responders simultaneously can shave minutes off emergency response, which could save a life.  

Read More: Why Every School Should Have A Panic Button App System

Interested in learning about our K-12 school safety communications and response platform? Click below!

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Written by Tara Gibson

Tara is a Marketing Coordinator on the Rave Mobile Safety marketing team. She loves writing about all things K-12 education, and manages the Rave social media channels. When she's not working, she's taking care of her smiley, shoe eating, Instagram-famous fur baby, Enzo!

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