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Artificial intelligenceEducation

Artificial Intelligence and education

By 01/03/2024No Comments
Dandelion blowing
by Mrs Sarah Bakhtiari
Principal of Shoreham College

Artificial Intelligence (AI), once confined to the realms of science fiction, is now a reality that permeates many aspects of our lives. It quietly operates in plain sight, through chatbots and virtual assistants, as well as in ways which remain largely unseen. For example, assisting in diagnosing diseases, analysing medical images and predicting patient outcomes. In the field of education, AI refers to the use of intelligent systems and algorithms to enhance teaching and learning experiences and so has the potential to enhance the way children learn and teachers teach. It encompasses various applications such as personalised learning, accessibility aids and the automated marking of work.

There is no doubt that AI is here to stay and while there is undoubtedly a storm raging about the relative benefits and challenges of AI, schools are diligently setting about exploring how AI can be used to enhance education. By embracing this technology we hope to empower our children with the skills and knowledge necessary to thrive in an increasingly digital society.

Personalised learning
AI enables educators to provide personalised learning experiences tailored to each child’s needs and abilities. Intelligent systems can analyse vast amounts of data to identify individual learning patterns, strengths and challenges. This information can be used to create customised learning paths, ensuring pupils receive targeted support. Adaptive learning platforms can utilise AI algorithms to deliver personalised content and track pupil progress.

In mathematics an AI platform can ‘learn’ a child’s mathematical strengths and challenges and provide content and questions aimed at building on those strengths and alleviating the challenges. The way that you might see this working in our classrooms is that a young person who is good at their times tables could have a ‘starter’ times table task to increase their confidence. They then progress on to long division, which they find more difficult – starting two steps behind the exact concept that the young person mastered in the last session, to build their confidence and move their learning forward. A teacher cannot reliably remember two steps behind, but the AI absolutely will. A master at the seven times table but always stuck on six times seven? Six times seven will come up again and again until it is cemented in the child’s long-term memory. This is powerful for moving concepts from the working memory to long-term schemas, which organise information according to how it is used and can be reliably recalled and built upon.

Enhanced collaboration and engagement
AI-powered tools can facilitate collaboration among children, encouraging teamwork and communication skills. Virtual reality (VR) simulations can transport children to historical events or scientific experiments, enabling them to actively participate and engage with the subject matter. AI chatbots can act as virtual tutors, answering questions and providing guidance, promoting independent learning and critical thinking. This does not replace real-life experiences; for example our Year 4 children will gain much from their annual trip to Bignor Roman Villa, but this can be supplemented with a virtual reality tour of one of the most significant proofs of Roman civilisation – Pompeii. We would happily take a secondary school trip to Pompeii, but never our Year 4!

Developing future-ready skills
As AI becomes increasingly prevalent in the workforce, equipping children with AI literacy is essential. By introducing AI concepts early on, schools can prepare pupils for the jobs of tomorrow. For example, coding platforms like Scratch or AI programming languages like Python can introduce children to the fundamentals of AI and computational thinking. This knowledge empowers them to become creators rather than mere consumers of technology, fostering innovation and problem-solving abilities.

When used most effectively AI complements, rather than replaces, existing relationships and teachers. Maintaining a strong teacher-pupil relationship is essential for effective education. By leveraging AI’s capabilities while preserving human relationships, educators can harness the power of technology to enhance learning outcomes and prepare children for the challenges of the future.

While AI can provide personalised instruction, it cannot replace the empathy, emotional support and mentorship that teachers and teaching assistants offer. Striking the right balance between AI and human interaction is crucial to ensure holistic learning experiences.

The integration of AI in primary schools offers a multitude of opportunities for our children’s education. By embracing this technology, we can provide personalised learning experiences, foster collaboration and equip our children with the skills necessary for success in the future. At our school, we support and encourage the thoughtful integration of AI, helping to ensure that our children are prepared to navigate the ever-evolving digital landscape with confidence and creativity.

Please call 01273 592681 to find out more about what Shoreham College can offer you,

or to arrange a personal visit at any time of the school year.