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“That personalized education is going to change everything”

The rise of the machines is happening across industries and carries with it both benefits and concerns. What bold impact will artificial intelligence have on education? In recent interviews with Edtech Magazine and Smithsonian Magazine, Joseph Qualls, clinical assistant professor at the University of Idaho’s College of Engineering and AI expert, expresses his bold ideas on personalization in education through the use of artificial intelligence.

AI has the potential to revolutionize completely the way children are taught. Qualls explains that education can become individualized for each child. AI can assess the child’s capabilities and interests and design a course of study that makes the most of the child’s potential. Rather than move at the pace of the entire class over a year (or a semester for college students) as students must do now, each child can move at his or her own pace. AI can guide, instruct, monitor, and remediate. Education will become more efficient and more effective. Qualls proclaims, “That personalized education is going to change everything.”

Personalization of education through AIWhere does that leave teachers? Qualls doesn’t think AI will completely replace human educators for at least another twenty years. In the meantime, the current flaw in AI will keep teachers in the loop. What’s the flaw? AI can be wrong; psychologists analyzing the psychology of AI can’t figure out why the AI makes some of the decisions it does. Qualls explains that to think, AI is using algorithms based on probability functions. So sometimes it will get things wrong. Suppose it makes a flawed assessment and sends a child down the wrong career path? To prevent that from happening, somebody knowledgeable has to monitor what AI is doing. That somebody is an experienced educator who can catch the mistakes, and as Qualls says, “provide the intuition” the machine lacks.

As the artificial intelligence expert shares his vision of the future of education, Qualls admits he could be wrong about the timing. AI in the classroom could be here sooner than we think.