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Researchers from the Near Future Teaching Project interviewed students to get their thoughts on automation in teaching, and they had some interesting thoughts:

Here are some of the things they said:

  • Robots can’t replace the physical presence of a teacher. Students prefer to have personal contact with a human being.
  • We will see a lot more artificial intelligence incorporated into software like the virtual learning environments, tracking the students’ progress and structuring their learning.
  • Students might learn the basics of their subjects from AI / robots, and then turn to teachers when they have complex or difficult questions
  • AI built into writing software will be able to provide students with instant answers to some of their questions (I think some versions of Microsoft Word already do this)
  • Will this lead to advances in human knowledge?
  • Academics may be concerned that automation would undermine the basics of their teaching, but could it free more of their time for higher things?
  • If some of the pastoral work can be left to automated scripts, this could free up academics to talk to students more about what really matters to them.
  • Perhaps we’ve got no choice because students are expecting us to use more and more technology.
  • We need technology and humans to work together, so they can complement each other.

(Artificial Intelligence, by Bovee and Thill, via Flickr. Licence: CC-BY-2.0)