Artificial Intelligence : An Aid for Teachers, or a Replacement?
Artificial Intelligence and Education in Europe
With predictions by PwC for the Artificial Intelligence (AI) to contribute $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030, it’s more than evident that we don’t just possess an individual need for AI in our daily lives, but rather, economies across the world have become dependent on it. Accenture, a major consulting company, predicts that by 2035, AI could double annual global economic growth rates by increasing labour productivity and by creating a new virtual workforce. Taking this into account, how are these predictions reflected in the education sector? Will AI simply help increase labour productivity, or, will it actually create a whole new virtual workforce, making the role of the teacher completely obsolete?
Back in 2014, the think-tank Bruegel forecasted that around 54% of jobs in the European Union would face the risk of computerisation within the next 20 years. However, at the end of 2021, it seems like they weren’t so sure anymore, stating that “AI adoption in Europe is low and likely running behind other parts of the world,” as the company argued that policymakers do not understand the barriers currently stopping firms from adopting AI, which is not without difficulty for many firms, as they face both internal and external barriers. Bruegel stated in a report from November 2021 that :
“EU companies lack funding compared to their Chinese and American counterparts, which affects both AI development and adoption. Private investment in AI in the EU represents less than 25% of that in China and less than 10% than that in the US, a pattern mirrored in venture capital for AI startups. In the European Commission (2020) survey, EU firms identified a lack of internal data and insufficient access to public and private datasets as barriers to AI adoption.”
Despite the fact that EU firms may be behind China and America in adopting Artificial Intelligence, this isn’t to say that AI isn’t on the rise in Europe, especially in the education sector. In 2020, K-12 education institutions already represented 30% share in the European AI education market. The EE Times Europe stated in July 2021 that, because of the Covid 19 pandemic, the education market has undergone drastic transformation, highlighting the imminent need to modernise a no longer apt education system.
The benefits from AI are more than apparent across the world, with apps such as Duolingo, with more than 500 million users, securing their place as leaders in the EdTech industry and democratising language learning on a global scale. Duolingo’s platform heavily relies on AI, as they have developed two different assessment systems for the app, the “Checkpoint Quiz” and their “Review Exercises”, both of which allow for the platform to assess the learner and customise their learning based on a solid collection of data and statistics on the learner’s studying behaviour and knowledge. Their use of AI, arguably, makes the app smarter than a teacher, as teachers may often have several students and struggle to be aware of the subtle differences in the knowledge and skills of their various students. Yet, with AI, Duolingo knows exactly what you struggled to answer and knows exactly what you need to improve on.
However, what AI fails to do, is provide a human connection. Everyone remembers their favourite school teacher. Whether it was a jokey Maths teacher or an English teacher who really cared about your progress, you never forget them. And often, their passion for their subject is somewhat contagious. I fell in love with poetry at school because of a single teacher who showed me how words can mean 100 different things and the emotional impact they can have on their reader. Her passion became my own. That is something that, for the moment, AI cannot give us.
For more information on AI, have a look at the SuperCharger LinkedIn page.
Written by Sofia Daley Sevilla