How AI will Destroy Education

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I am taking an edX MOOC on Learning Analytics in a few weeks (come and join along).

LA is an area that I haven't been following as closely as I should have for the past few year. I am feeling the need to brush up on LA because data and LA underpin so much of what is happening in education technology these days, including the world of AIEd (to illustrate just how far I am removed – I had no idea that artificial intelligence in education had been acronym'd).

Click-baity title aside,  Jay Lynch has written a good critical look at the current problems with AIEd.

Lynch argues that much of the current AIEd is built on poorly defined data that doesn't actually capture meaningful learning, and that this type of data is notoriously difficult to capture in the first place. How do you actually measure and quantify learning, and what if the measures we use are flawed to begin with?

Most data collected about student learning is indirect, inauthentic, lacking demonstrable reliability or validity, and reflecting unrealistic retention timelines. And current examples of AIEd often rely on these poor proxies for learning, using data that is easily collectable rather than educationally meaningful.

Lynch, 2017

Lynch makes further arguments, including one that I am finding increasingly disturbing, not just in education, but in all aspects of working society: that the primary purpose of A.I. is to remove people from processes. In this case, removing the teacher from the learning process of the students. Lynch notes that most AIEd works in the "rational domain, prioritizing cognitive aspects of learning" and ignores the critical role of emotion in the learning process.

Maybe one day AIEd will be capable of effectively identifying and nurturing student emotions during learning, but until then we must be careful not to offload educational tasks that, on the surface, may appear menial or routine, but critically depend on emotion and meaningful human connections to be optimally beneficial.

Lynch, 2017

As I spend a bit of time diving into data and analytics in education over the coming months, I think I'll be coming back to this piece a few times to help me critically frame the space.

Source: How AI Will Destroy Education, Jay Lynch, Nov 13, 2017

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