AI is coming!

Let me introduce you to Dewey a new AI for schools. He’ll tell you all sorts of important information-you just need to ask. Is this real? No, Dewey’s not real, but I think someday AI will find itself in schools and be a part of the everyday process.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is big news right now. Facebook and Microsoft have unleashed bots, Alexa, Amazon’s personal assistance is pretty impressive and now Google has just given the world a glimpse of their new and improved personal assistance. Guess what? AI will come to the classroom. It will take some years but it’ll find its way there and it will change the school

Sure, it sounds fantastic and a little beyond the realm of possibility and of course there are those who would say Why would a school want to have this thing in their school? Well allow me to present some arguments. First, remember that all schools run a student information system (SIS). This thing is a big database with all sorts of demographics, grades, behavior reports, medical reports and any other info that the school wants to record and keep track of.

For the staff, getting a hold of this information isn’t too hard. It can be a little tedious, but it’s sitting there and that’s the problem. There is so much information, for a teacher to comb through it would take hours and as everyone out there knows. Since it takes so much time and since teacher’s are always fighting against time, that data just sits there.

If teachers had access to Dewey, they could ask questions, get that information in a timely manner.

Now let’s take a look at how different people within a school can leverage Dewey.

Teachers

As a teacher, here is how a digital personal assistant could be really helpful. Pretend that every teacher has their “own” AI personal assistant. Everyone has access to Dewey but they can only access information related to their students and classes. Now pretend the teacher can access this assistant from multiple devices in their classroom (cell phone, tablet, bluetooth speaker or computer). OK – that’s a quick set up now let’s talk what this teacher could do.

An obvious one is communication. What if a teacher wants to send an email to all parents about an upcoming event. Maybe they just say “Hey Dewey! Can you email all the parents about the field trip? Tell them that all permission slips are due to the school before Friday. Now send it.” Dewey will go through the SIS, find those email addresses, compose the message and send the email to each parent. There are already ways to do with other third party programs, so that’s not too unrealistic.

Now, let’s say a teacher wants to let all parents and students know who is missing assignments. You could say “Dewey! Can you send a text message and email all parents and students about missing their missing assignments?” Again, Dewey will go through the SIS and the gradebook to find anyone who is missing any assignment. Then it will find the email addresses and phone numbers, then it will compose the email and add the necessary information. This is pretty handy and brings more transparency and accountability to the class.

What if a student suddenly acting up in class. A teacher could start a behavior report that all teachers/counselors would be notified about. As it turns out if a student is acting up in one class, it is probably happening in another class. That way this student’s teachers and counselor are all alerted and looking for new types of behavior. This is a much more proactive strategy until waiting until this grows into a larger problem weeks down the road.

Administrators

Administrators (I’m looking at you too counselors) could use this to quickly bring up a list of students who are not doing well after the first two weeks and have counselors meet with those students.

If one of these people needs to meet with a parent, they could easily share information about their child before the meeting to give them a heads up of not just what the meeting is about, but why they think there is an issue.

They could also look for trends with specific students for example if Johnny seems to slack off at the end of November, then teachers, counselors and parents could be alerted of that fact at the end of October and Johnny’s educational team could encourage Johnny to be more vigilant and stick with it.

There are plenty of other options out there but what do you think? Is AI coming, could we see a Dewey educational assistant in our classroom? Is this just a pipe dream? Leave your comments below – we love them!

About Patrick Cauley

I teach middle school technology and love to play around with tech and teach students and colleagues alike. You can read my blog at www.itbabble.com
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