Education is ripe for disruption. Teachers, professors, and learning & development (L&D) professionals face increasing demands on their time. They must keep pace with our rapidly changing world and ensure their students have the skills needed to succeed. This leaves little time for creativity and inspiration.
Enter artificial intelligence (AI). New generative AI tools can take over the drudgery of education content creation. As Graham Glass, CEO and founder of CYPHER Learning, shared in my recent interview, AI-powered solutions will revolutionize learning.
The Problem: Overworked Educators
Educators invest tremendous effort creating learning materials. This includes drafting lecture slides, writing assignments, developing assessments, and more. It’s estimated that building a quality online course takes 400-500 hours. This high workload leaves educators overburdened.
“A lot of teachers, professors, L&D people are very overworked individuals,” said Glass. “And they’re trying busily to create all this content about the changing world.” The heavy demands of content creation detract from an educator’s most vital role – motivating and inspiring students. Learners thrive when intrinsically motivated. But educators rarely have time to focus on sparking excitement.
The Solution: AI-Powered Course Creation
AI can offer a revolutionary solution. For example, Glass reports that their AI “Copilot” builds an entire online course in just 10 minutes. The educator simply describes the course parameters. What’s the topic and tone? How many pages of content are needed? Should quizzes and assignments be included?
The AI handles the heavy lifting. It crafts learning objectives, outlines content modules, writes assignments, develops assessments, and more. This doesn’t completely eliminate human effort. Educators still review and refine the materials. But it slashes the time investment from hundreds of hours to minutes.
CYPHER Learning’s AI course creator is extremely advanced. Multiple AI systems work together, each handling specialized tasks. First, the AI develops the course’s competencies – the concrete skills and knowledge it will teach. This forms the backbone for later content generation. Next, the AI creates module outlines aligned to those competencies. It then launches over 100 parallel API calls, pulling together videos, images, and text for each module. The AI asks itself a progression of questions, iteratively building up the course. This thoughtful prompting allows it to handle nuanced work effectively.
AI-powered course creation gives educators a superpower. They can develop countless course variants in minutes. This frees them to focus on what matters most – motivating and inspiring students. “Our belief is using AI through the CYPHER platform will relieve them from a lot of the drudgery so they can do what they can do best, which is to motivate and inspire their students,” said Glass.
AI also enables rapid adaptation. Educators can effortlessly tailor courses to different languages, perspectives, and learning objectives. Consider an example from Glass: “Let’s just say you were going to create a course on Star Trek…You might teach it based on the aliens that they’ve encountered. Or you might orient it around technology. There are different ways to cross-cut and develop a course.” Rather than minor tweaks, educators can build entirely new variants optimized for different audiences and goals.
CYPHER Learning is also developing AI systems that generate custom content for individual learners in real time. No more struggling through standardized courses. Learners simply describe what they want to learn right now. The AI instantly delivers tailored materials using the best available resources.
Imagine a call center worker needing to resolve a difficult customer interaction. They could request guidance on that exact scenario and get personalized advice and training within seconds. Students can self-direct their learning, following intrinsic interests rather than mandated curricula. They receive custom materials on any topic on demand.
Overcoming Biases Against AI
However, many educators fall prey to cognitive biases around these new AI capabilities. Two pertinent biases are confirmation bias and functional fixedness.
Confirmation bias is a cognitive bias that leads individuals to favor information that confirms their preexisting beliefs or hypotheses. In the context of education, this bias can manifest in educators primarily focusing on the limitations or failures of AI, thereby reinforcing their existing skepticism. For instance, if an educator believes that AI cannot effectively assist in personalized learning, they might pay more attention to instances where AI systems fail to adapt to individual student needs, while overlooking successful implementations. This selective attention and interpretation can create a skewed perception of AI’s capabilities, impeding its integration and acceptance in educational settings.
Functional fixedness, on the other hand, is a cognitive bias that limits a person’s ability to use an object only in the way it is traditionally used. Applied to the educational context, this bias can hinder educators from envisioning innovative applications of AI in their profession. Educators with a fixed notion of their role and traditional teaching methods may find it challenging to see how AI can be a valuable tool in enhancing their teaching practices. For example, they might view AI only as a means for administrative tasks, overlooking its potential in areas like adaptive learning systems, student engagement analysis, or providing personalized feedback.
To effectively overcome these biases, it is essential for educators to adopt an open and growth-oriented mindset. This involves being receptive to new ideas, actively seeking diverse perspectives, and being willing to experiment with new teaching methodologies that incorporate AI. Educators should be encouraged to critically evaluate both the strengths and limitations of AI, moving beyond preconceived notions.
Moreover, professional development programs can play a crucial role in mitigating these biases. By providing educators with hands-on experiences, success stories, and evidence-based research on AI’s impact in education, these programs can broaden their understanding and appreciation of AI’s potential. Encouraging a culture of continuous learning and innovation within educational institutions can also foster a more AI-friendly environment.
In essence, as AI continues to transform the educational landscape, overcoming biases like confirmation bias and functional fixedness will be crucial. This requires a concerted effort to promote a mindset shift among educators, alongside providing them with the necessary tools, training, and support to explore and integrate AI effectively in their teaching practices.
Preparing for the AI-Powered Future
AI will irrevocably reshape education. CYPHER Learning provides a glimpse of what’s possible. While human teachers remain essential, AI can liberate them from repetitive tasks. This transition may seem daunting. But educators already have the creativity and passion to inspire learners in this AI-enabled world. They need only embrace these new possibilities.
As Graham Glass aptly put it, “our approach is now more ambitious. It’s like, well, why not just allow anyone to learn anything on demand anytime, any place?” The future of education has arrived. AI promises to help eliminate the drudgery of content creation, empowering human educators to unlock their students’ potential.
AI empowers educators by revolutionizing content creation, freeing time for inspiration, customization, and fostering a mindset shift in education..>Click to tweet
Image credit: Julia M Cameron/Pexels
Originally published in Disaster Avoidance Experts on October 5, 2023