Teacherbots

Will they take teacher’s jobs?

This month’s reading group addresses the topic of teacher bots and the use of AI in HE, which arose as a topic of interest at our last meeting.

We suggest you read at least one reading from ‘Current projects’ and one from ‘Context’. But you are of course very welcome to read more!

Questions to consider

  • What are the advantages/disadvantages of using AI ‘characters’ to support students?
  • What do you think the impact of these innovations will be on HE teachers and teaching?
  • Do you think using bots or AI teaching assistants could work in your institution or educational setting?

Current projects

The Teacherbot (Botty) from the University of Edinburgh

Teacherbot: interventions in automated teaching’ in Teaching in Higher Education.

Alternatively, try ‘Bot teachers in hybrid massive open online courses (MOOCS): a post-humanist experience’ in the Australian Journal of Educational Technology. This was the article that sparked off this topic, it’s one of the top 10 articles from the January e-learning reading group.

The AI teaching assistant from Georgia Institute of Technology

Artificial Intelligence Course Creates AI Teaching Assistant: Students didn’t know their TA was a computer’ a news release from Georgia Tech.

On the same topic, read the Quartz article ‘Imagine how great universities could be without all those human teachers’.

The article embeds a video of Ashok Goel, who was behind the AI teaching assistance, speaking about his project on a TedX talk: ‘A teaching assistant named Jill Watson | Ashok Goel | TEDxSanFrancisco’.

Overview of current projects and uses of Chatbots

Donald Clark’s ‘10 uses for AI in learning (with examples)’ gives a useful overview of how chatbots are currently being used in education, with a range of examples from around the world.

Context

The end of teaching?

For responses to automated teaching from the other side of the debate, read Audrey Watters’ ‘Teaching machines and Turing machines: The history of the future of labor and learning’ from her Hack Education blog.

For a non-AI-focussed, but equally impassioned, argument against current trends in perceptions of the teacher, read Gert Biesta’s ‘Giving Teaching Back to Education: Responding to the Disappearance of the Teacher’ from Phenomenology and Practice.

Looking back and looking forward

It actually hasn’t been that easy to find contemporary studies about AI bots being used in HE. Interestingly however, there was a real surge in interest in this field around the 1960s. To look at how such studies were carried out in the past, have a look at the research from the System Development Corporation in California: ‘Results of Initial Experiments in Automated Teaching’ (1959)

Even if there is isn’t yet much published research about how AI is used in education at the moment, there are lots of predictions around possibilities for the future. A place to start this discussion would be with this TeachThought article ‘10 Roles for Artificial Intelligence in Education

For a more aspirational and marketing-heavy approach, you can read how Pearson phrase the same ideas in their report ‘Intelligence Unleashed: An argument for AI in education’ (it’s quite long; the most relevant section is pp. 31-40).

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