Mention the use of artificial intelligence in education and people might envision children being taught by a robot who just strode confidently from an Isaac Asimov novel.
But don’t expect reality to play out quite that way, said Erika Twani, author of “Becoming Einstein’s Teacher: Awakening the Genius in Your Students.”
“Artificial intelligence is already all around us,” said Twani, the co-founder and CEO of Learning One to One, an organization that works with educators in improving what they do. “It’s there when you watch a video on Youtube, and AI suggests videos similar to the one you are watching. It’s on Facebook, when it reads an insane amount of data to recognize your pixels in a vast number of pictures and ask you to tag yourself.”
But that’s artificial intelligence in the world in general. The classroom, so far, is another matter.
“To date there is little to no evidence that AI is effective in education,” Twani said. “With adaptive learning, which makes the most use of AI at this time, students may remember something for a test, but there is no guarantee they actually learned content that will be useful for them, or that they learned a new skill.”
That needs to change, she said, but to get there requires an understanding of biological intelligence and how it can relate to artificial intelligence. Unlike humans, artificial intelligence does not think.
“It just uses algorithms to analyze data and suggest logic pathways,” she said. “Artificial intelligence does not have neurotransmitters. So, it plays with yours.”
What she means by that is this: With AI, everything is personalized to the user, so that it sparks neurotransmitters’ reactions in your brain, such as dopamine. Essentially, by playing to those neurotransmitters, AI kidnaps your attention, which is why so many people keep being drawn back to social media even when they feel it’s wasting their time.
“At that point, you were biohacked,” Twani said. “Who needs chemical weapons when the enemy can biohack the brain? That’s the warfare of the future.”
But like it or not, AI is here to stay, so people need to develop cognitive control – and Twani sees an opportunity for that to start happening in the classroom, so that teachers and students get the most out of the good artificial intelligence offers.
A few ways to do that, she says, include:
- Make learning a personal experience based on students’ preferences. AI can design learning pathways according to students’ individual preferences, thereby increasing their engagement with and interest in learning.
“The more we work on something we love,” Twani said, “the more we will be motivated and the higher our chance of succeeding in life.”
- Organize content into useful knowledge. In our connected world, learners interact with numerous apps using their personal identity. AI uses data points of life experience to combine content and present it to learners as a primary reference, something like a personal content curator.
“This organized content allows learners to make better decisions, applying what they learned to their real lives,” Twani said.
- Make education about the student rather than the system. Seat time, dropout rates, grades and GPA do not matter in the AI world, Twani said.
“Imagine a world in which learners choose different learning pathways based on their interests and decision-making,” she said. “Each learning pathway will give them a ‘microcredential,’ which is a seal of expertise in a particular area. This recognition of improvement in an area they love will enhance the levels of dopamine and serotonin in the brain, strengthening neural networks even more. So much of education is regurgitation of content. With AI, algorithms perform the repetitive task of regurgitation so education can focus on how learners use knowledge to create and recreate the world around them.”
About Erika Twani
Erika Twani (erikatwani.com), author of Becoming Einstein’s Teacher: Awakening the Genius in Your Students, is co-founder and CEO of Learning One to One, where, along with experts, she explores ways to foster human achievement through Relational Learning. Before co-founding Learning One to One, Twani was Microsoft’s education industry director for Multi-Country Americas. Twani has advised government officials and education leaders around the world on the use of technology in education, has written various articles on the topic, and has worked with public and private schools to guide the practical use of relational learning. She led Learning One to One into five countries in the first year alone, touching the lives of more than 100,000 students.