AI Teacher Assistant
The implementation of AI in the classroom has revolutionised educational technologies. Everyday, schools are starting to integrate and use AI as a tool to assist with students’ learning. Hence, it’s important to make such technologies more accessible so that students are familiar with and embrace this new digital era.
In fact, a McKinsey study found that teachers work about 50 hours a week with 20-40% of these hours spent on activities that can be automated with technology such as AI.
A notable example of this is Jill Watson, a virtual teaching assistant that offers individual attention to students in the Georgia Institute of Technology. Professor Ashok Goel developed Jill Watson to help him answer the thousands of questions his students had regarding his class content. It was much more than he and his team of assistants could handle.
How It Works
The virtual assistant utilises AI by training itself with a database comprising predictable queries, introductory emails, and appropriate replies. Via machine learning, it learns to match answers to questions. Often, she takes questions regarding “file formats, data usage, and the schedule of office hours” – routinely asked questions by students with objective answers.
Image Source: https://news.gatech.edu/archive/features/jill-watsons-terrific-twos.shtml
Initially, Jill Watson wasn’t exactly successful. She’d sometimes answer questions incorrectly, confusing the students. However, in improving the AI model, this virtual TA was able to evaluate her responses and flag up any errors. Now, her answers are 97% accurate.
In turn, this also enriched personal engagement with his classes. Goel and his TAs were able to focus on more thoughtful and complex questions – less predictable questions the AI could not answer. Teachers can direct their attention towards providing a quality teaching experience instead of doing mundane tasks.
Such instances of technology being used in the classroom has also led to much discussion regarding ‘AI taking over jobs’. With that being said, robots have yet to capture the full scope of human intelligence. In Jill’s case, she is far from being ready to teach and take on the role of a human TA.
AI experts are confident that AI will persist as a fundamental learning tool, working in tandem with the teachers to provide a quality education all students deserve.
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Written by Nichapatr (Petch) Lomtakul