AI, Cognitive Sciences and Education

Technology has revolutionized… well everything! The changes technology has made in individual lives over the last ten years is mind boggling (just think back to payphones, physical phonebooks, and playing things with no batteries/cords/chargers). The one place where technology has seemingly had the biggest ideological impact but possibly the smallest physical impact is in the K-12 classroom.

There has been a lot of research on the ways that children learn best and effective teaching styles. Cognitive research has led to Quantum Learning, Project Based Learning, Multiple Intelligences, Differentiated Instruction and a bevy of other “best practices”. With the gains in technology we now want to see students in charge of their learning who use the best technology has to offer to learn in a way that is preferable for them and their cognitive ability to create individualized learning. The problem, I believe, is the cycle of change in education is far behind the cycle of evolution in technology. 

In an educational system where 1:1 laptop and desktop programs are still trying to establish connectivity in the classroom, where cell phones on high school campuses are confiscated, and where assessments require bubbling in the right dots, where is the fundamental change in the classroom?

The world of technology is enabling AI assistants, assistive technology tools, and global connectivity to allow access to a new level of learning. Can you imagine a world where students all over the city, state or country were learning at the same time in an interactive classroom taught by an expert in the field using video conferencing and online classrooms? Can you imagine a world where real life crisis management, work interactions, and social skills can be taught with AI software like MILO? Instead of talking in a classroom about what you should do, technology like this could allow you to practice in a classroom and make it real. Can you imagine a world where the disabled can access the web with a virtual assistant, like Denise, who also monitors medical conditions and can call for help when needed? Who will teach these students who need technology the most for daily living to use these revolutionary devices? These technological advances could have huge implications in the classroom when used in conjunction with what we know about the cognitive sciences.

AI devices are learning to think and make connections like humans do. With the power of the internet behind them, how can we use them to expand the connections we are making when we learn? This goes beyond YouTube and Twitter. How can we bring our knowledge of imagery, analogies, rules, and concepts to bridge the divide between what we know and the world of knowledge? How can we change our own teaching and learning and make our brains more… Powerful? Effective? Efficient? Using technology in the classroom and effectively using technology in the classroom are two different things. K-12 institutions need to think about the end result and the best means to get there and embrace all forms of technology as a means of achieving those results.


Image courtesy of Museum of Hartlepool


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