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Two's Company, Three's a Crowd

Updated: Jul 8

There’s a lot to being a great teacher.  Being able to form strong and positive relationships with students is definitely part of the equation.

Which is why it’s understandable that one of teachers’ biggest fears is AI’s potential to disrupt their relationships with students.  It's an appropriate concern that needs addressing.

Education is a social and nuanced experience.  It happens through students’ interaction with teachers, as teachers respond to their students’ unique academic and social needs.

A teacher might shift a planned test because she knows her students have another important assessment due this week.  Or he may give extra help to a student struggling after being away sick.  There’s an almost infinite way of how teachers respond to their students.

This message was reinforced In the early days of YouTube and the Khan Academy, when students could now access lessons from around the world, but told us that they preferred their own teachers’ resources. Because they 'got' her.  Because they had a relationship with him.

If AI does work for teachers such as marking or basic tutoring, will it crowd out teachers from the learning process? Sadly this is some of the corporate models we're seeing being mooted. But it shouldn’t. 

AI must grow teachers’ relationships with their students. 

Take marking.  Teachers have a love-hate relationship with marking.  Few teachers enjoy sitting down in the evening to mark 30+ books or tests.  But it’s great to see what students do and don’t know, and then use this information to adapt their  teaching.  If AI does the marking, will teachers lose some connection with their students? Not if it respects their professionalism and ‘talks’ to them in their own language.  

What does this mean in practice?

Firstly AI must provide student data to teachers for them to use first and for them to manage and share with others.  Secondly, it must keep the data simple and clear, so teachers spend their time on teaching, not interpreting complex data.  Thirdly it must be quick so teachers gather it often and in small amounts, such as a quick 5-10 spot test.

Teachers are the heart of education and AI isn’t here to crash the party.  On the contrary, it’s here to make itself invisible and teaching ... and relationships ... more visible.

Two’s company.  Three’s a party.

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