The future is already here. It’s just not evenly distributed. ~William Gibson
In this special issue, I’m focusing on two of my main loves — education and educational technology, especially artificial intelligence (AI). An article by my friend and colleague, Dr. Bryan Alexander, drew my attention and is my inspiration for this issue. Bryan is an internationally known futurist, researcher, writer, speaker, consultant, and teacher, working in the field of how technology transforms education.
In this issue, I’ll give you a peek into the future of AI to transform education in a positive way. After all, I’m the Militant Optimist and won’t dwell on the potential pitfalls of AI — a subject for someone else. I’ll summarize Bryan’s article and share a video of the scenario I produced on the future of education.
Five AIs in Search of a Campus
In Dr. Alexander’s article in the Educause Review, he predicts that AI will experience steady growth, it will neither “metastasize” into world-threatening sentience nor collapse. Artificial general intelligence (AGI) will not occur anytime soon, and academia will continue to have financial obstacles that may limit AI implementation.
[T]he technological environment will develop along the following lines: increasing bandwidth; a continued shift to mobile computing; a mix of interfaces, including keyboard and windows as well as voice and gesture; and ever-richer multimedia as the virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (VR) revolution proceeds.
Good News: Brian posits 5 AI archetype “applications” for future education:
- Tutor: the software will instruct the student through an established curriculum using gamification, track progress and suggest remediation. Always aware of the current subject matter, it will adapt content into multimedia lessons.
- Headmistress: this application builds on current analytics and student retention software while incorporating the institution’s learning mission. It tracks grades, monitors failure and alerts students, faculty, advisors, and no doubt, the Tutor.
- Manager: this AI builds on current office and operations automation including staff reminders, alerts and maintenance recommendations. It will analyze job applicants, assess staff performance, hire adjuncts, and manage much of today’s HR functions.
- Muse: this AI stimulates ones’ creative juices, suggesting “phrasing for writers, strokes for painters, and composition for videographers.” The Muse helps users assemble bibliographies by scanning a writer’s e-books for relevant passages or inspiration and assist in writing revisions.
- Danger, Danger Will Robinson! Danger is not a proposed application per se’ but represents some of the techno panic you may feel when contemplating this future: loss of privacy, human devaluation, machine bias, and unintended consequences of rampant AI.
Future Education Scenario
I created this scenario as an exercise for my University’s Future of Education Planning Taskforce. Here is a near-future scenario depicting a day in the life of a 30-year-old engineer, mother, and part-time student. This 5-minute video helps to put into context the various educational technologies that are here already or around the corner.
As always, I’m very positive about how technology can enhance our lives. Let’s hope that future politicians give more than lip-service to funding better education.
In the meantime, the education industry and academic leaders are leveraging technology to help improve the quality and efficiency of our children’s education. Thanks go to Bryan Alexander for his contribution by shining a light on future educational technology.