Wednesday | February 12, 2020

The potential for the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in education is enormous, both for good and for ill. AI offers the promise of adjusting to the learning needs of each individual student, delivering personalized instruction, identifying gaps in knowledge and offering challenging lessons tailored to the particular needs of students. It also has the potential of freeing teachers from overwhelming administrative burdens, such as attendance taking, filing paperwork and grading routine tests and exams.

At the same time, there are advocates of AI who offer a grim, dystopian vision for the future of education, in which its use would replace teachers altogether. The teacher-student relationship, which has been at the core of the educational process ever since Plato and Confucius formulated their philosophies, would be displaced by interaction between the computer and the student. Even peer interaction between students – with the socialization process of learning how to live and engage with others – would be sidelined.

The increasing use of AI in schools also poses serious ethical questions. What kinds of data are being collected about individual students? Who will be granted access to the data? For what purposes? What should be done about the human biases that have been found to have been built into many algorithms?

From different points of view, this panel explores both the promise and the perils of this technology.


Nantambu Kohlbatz, Information Technology/Computer Science instructor at McKinley Technology High School, Washington, D.C.

Natalie Milman, Professor of Educational Technology and Director of the Educational Technology Leadership Program at The George Washington University

Kentaro Toyama, the W.K. Kellogg Professor of Community Information at the University of Michigan School of Information & Fellow, MIT Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values

Moderator: Cheryl Teare, Assistant to the President, Union Leadership Institute, American Federation of Teachers