In the last decade, differentiation has been the buzzword in education, yet also its biggest challenge: how can a single teacher address the needs of over 20 pupils – from varying backgrounds and with diverse cognitive levels and interests – all at the same time? Luckily, artificial intelligence will come to teachers’ aid. By 2035, children will be able to follow a completely personalized learning path, adapted not only to their skills, but also to their preferences and interests. In this article, dr. Jung Yeon Park, researcher in psychometrics and educational statistics at ITEC, an imec research group at KU Leuven, shares her view on how technology will transform the classroom.
There is no such thing as ‘one-size-fits-all’
Do you remember that training course where you stopped paying attention after about half an hour? Chances are that you zoned out because what the teacher was saying was either too difficult, too easy or irrelevant for you. Intuitively, we all know that learning works best if it addresses our individual needs. But in the daily reality of our children’s classrooms – with one teacher for about 20 pupils – personalization is hard to accomplish.
Most of the time, everyone sits in the same classroom and receives the same input, targeted at an imaginary average student. Not only does this affect their learning efficiency, it also has a negative impact on children’s attitude towards school. Weaker students get frustrated or suffer from low self-esteem whereas stronger students get bored waiting for more challenging tasks. Teachers try their best to cater to individual needs, but this is not an easy task. So how can we ensure that students get personalized education without expecting teachers to magically evolve into superhero jugglers?
Sneak peek into the classroom of 2035
Let’s fast-forward to a hypothetical classroom in 2035. When class starts, each child goes to work on his/her own device and logs onto his/her personalized learning platform. Tom’s dashboard suggests that he does some exercises on mathematics or practices the conjugation of French verbs. He decides to start with French because in the afternoon they will be working on their creative project in French. The platform suggests that he watches a short video lecture first, but he decides to skip it. He prefers a more trial-and-error-based approach and – because the learning content is presented in the format of a game – he is eager to start practicing.