Artificial intelligence can free teachers to spend more time with pupils — webinar

AI has the means to cut down the burden of teacher tracking and recording, and to provide meaningful data to steer pedagogical practice, participants to an EDUCATE Ventures webinar heard.

In the first of its AI-readiness webinars aimed specifically at educators, Professor Rose Luckin, the organisation’s director, outlined how schools could use AI to cut teacher workload while producing statistics to help inform schools about their effectiveness and levels of pupil progress.

Webinar participant, Karine George, a former primary headteacher and school inspector, described how schools often find themselves “data dense” and in possession of statistics and information on everything from pupil performance, socio-economic factors to testing outcomes as well as teacher observations, moderation data and parental surveys.

However, schools often didn’t understand how to use this data — or lacked the confidence to do so — so it was difficult to bind it together so it could inform the school better and influence its practice.

In one exercise, Ms George said, her school tried to establish why there was a significant gender disparity between boys and girls in mathematics performance. But however much classes were observed, and the data crunched, the school never got to the bottom of the discrepancy and was unable fully to plug the gap.

Professor Luckin said AI could help schools decipher the data they hold and bring it all together. Audio data, particularly, could be used to find out a range of things, such as how much time teachers spend speaking during class as compared to how much students speak. Audio data can also be linked to established AI facial-recognition capability to increase the accuracy of interpreting student emotions and motivation whilst learning, such as seeing if students are confused, or anxious and need more explanation and support — though this has ethical implications which schools would have to consider.

Ms George said AI technology would “free teachers to do what they came into the profession to do” and to help them use their own “professional capital”. She added that teachers spend a disproportionate amount of time on data but “AI would enable us to utilise data in a fantastic way”.

The AI-readiness webinars for educators and businesses are held fortnightly, and further information about upcoming instalments can be found on both the EDUCATE Ventures website, and its Eventbrite organiser profile.



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Dorothy Lepkowska

Dorothy is the Communications Lead on EDUCATE Ventures, and former education correspondent of several national newspapers.