Tackling teacherworkload: could Artificial Intelligence be the solution?

Educati regular


Thismonth in his column for on Today,

RAHAMCOOPER, head of education at Capita SIMS, looks at the

potential of AI to reduce teacher workload.

As the school year heads towards the summer, I’m sure there will be many teachers looking forward to a well-earned break and some downtime to recharge the batteries as much as possible.

Teacher workload remains a hot topic in education and a key area of focus for the DfE’s current EdTech strategy, with the aim being to reduce the pressure placed on teachers by making the most of recent developments in technology.

One such advancement, which is only really at the start of the journey towards realising its potential, is the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to ease much of the burden associated with teaching and learning.

Over time, the number of repeat tasks and administrative requirements placed on teachers have steadily grown, with marking in particular often highlighted as a major drain on time. In addition, the more time teachers are required to carry out the same tasks over and over again, the less time there is available for catering for the needs of all pupils with differentiated, individual learning plans designed to stretch and challenge all equally. It is in meeting these two requirements where AI has the greatest scope to support, completing regular and rudimentary assessment tasks, while using the data they create to identify the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for pupils to ensure they are challenged in a way that stimulates development.

However, some people suggest that advances like these carry a more sinister threat, perhaps even to the point of doing away with teachers all together. If an algorithm can accurately assess a pupil’s performance and then prescribe further reading and follow up tasks to develop knowledge and ultimately improve outcomes, where in that process does a human actually become involved?

Fortunately, we’re not quite into the realms of science fic don’t expect the rise of the robots any time soon, if ever.

That said, the role tion just yet and I

of teachers in the classroom may need to adapt quickly and become something different to what it is today. With increasing numbers of teachers leaving the profession, and more students than ever in the education system, the decades old paradigm of 30 pupils in front of a classroom teacher will soon break. AI technology might help with this challenge.

Although not a new approach, it might be time for a renewed focus on encouraging pupils to discover information and details for themselves rather than absorbing knowledge from a teacher; therefore, the role of classroom

experience to lessons or facilitators who guide, encourag educators could take on one of two forms: experts addin

learners during their studies.

outcome to achieve, but how they get there is flexible and decided by them. oject or extended learning tasks, where pupils have an end goal or

Instead of teaching being a one-way process monitored periodically through exams and assessments, there could be a greater focus on learning through proj

One thing for me is certain: when we talk of EdTech and its potential, we

creating new apps to reduce email traffic – the real successes are most likely should avoid focusing on filling classrooms with expensive gadgets or

to come from creating learning environments that work for everybody, regardless of their ability, potential or individual requirements.

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Home learning for the summer

Regular contributor KIRSTY BERTENSHAWthismonth offers some pointers for teachers looking to set home learning over the summer break .

Setting home learning over summer is often difficult as students move classes and have different teachers. But setting relevant and useful home learning that has a purpose over the summer is important to continue the learning and development of students. Here are five ideas for purposeful student tasks.

1. A holiday journal - task students to keep a holiday journal, writing or drawing something each day, maybe about their daily life or even total fiction, as an exercise in creative thinking. This works best if the students are given a small book to act as journal as they may not have the resources at home. Try to keep the activity inclusive as not all students will find it easy to write every day.

2.Write a book – students can fill the pages of their book with any writing they like. It may be recipes, short stories, long stories, comic strips, poetry, song lyrics, fiction, or non-fiction. Photographs or pictures could be included too. Encourage honesty in the writing and ensure to collect the books in at the beginning of the next academic year and read them all.Marking shouldn’t concentrate on spelling and grammar in this instance, but on creativity and effort. This could be a task set in tutor time and collected in by the tutor to avoid the issue of teacher

3. Set a proj changes.

oject towards next academic year’s curriculum – this can

encourage research, library use, creativity etc. It could include dioramas or models and even be cross curricular, for example, a proj

siege machines or aqueducts which could be Romans. Students could research the Roman

modelled as D&T, Roman

numerals for time keeping and accounts is a maths section, multicultural society as a PSHE section, etc. Provide guidelines for research or some basic questions the research could answer with a few ideas of how the proj

oject could be completed.

4. Science fair in September - plan an event for September, perhaps for staff and students or even parents too. Students have all summer to prepare an activity or science experiment to show off or present their learning. They will need to research and plan, test and present ideas. Encourage students to research interesting ideas or conduct their own experiments, with parental guidance of course. This task could work for other curriculum areas as well - have an entrepreneur’s fair where students present business ideas, and invention fair where they can solve problems of the world or invent something fun. Drama and Arts students could even have a mini Fringe festival at school with plays,

5. How about concentrating on emotional w performances and comedy shows.

ellbeing instead? This is a

totally different approach to continuing the growth mindset rather than an academic aim. Construct a set of tasks for students to complete at their own pace. For example, one task could be to learn a poem or limerick. Another task could be to cook something one day. Or think of three things they are grateful for in their lives. They could go for a long walk, write a diary entry, help someone, practise a skill, learn a new one, or donate something to charity.

July/Augus t 2019 y/

empire; inventions such as oject on the

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