How artificial intelligence tools can be used to improve education

It was a privilege to be invited to the APPG AI evidence meeting, chaired by Stephen Metcalfe and Lord Tim Clement-Jones, this week at the House of Lords. Sir Anthony SeldonProfessor Rose LuckinPriya Lakhani, and I gave evidence on how artificial intelligence (AI) tools can be used to improve learner experience, teaching practice and education system design. Commonly referred to as AIEd.

It was great to share Nesta’s work in artificial intelligence, which aims to maximise its benefits for the public good and avoid the biggest risks. I spoke about our report on AI tools for schools and colleges, which explores the following questions:

  • How can AI be used as a ‘tool’ in different learning environments?
  • How AI can impact assessments?
  • What should the government do in light of the evidence?

Artificial intelligence is set to shape the future of the world as we know it. Nesta is exploring how to close the gender gap in AI by sharing inspiring stories of women in AI. I talked about Nesta’s code for AI ethics and 10 questions to ask before using AI for public sector decision making. We need to overcome the fear and hype of AI to make more effective decisions.

APPG AI evidence meeting at House of Lords

I also outlined some key suggestions on how the government can move forward on this issue. Check out the detailed recommendations here.

Key recommendations

  • Provision of public funding for AIEd R&D through Innovate UK, prioritising teacher-facing and system-facing tools, and funding to help growth and adoption of the most promising AIEd tools in UK schools.
  • Government should help form an EdTech test-bed to enable companies to test AIEd in real settings and support closer collaboration between schools and colleges, AIEd companies and research.
  • Clear and visible government leadership for AI in education, including a publicly declared government ambition to create a system of responsible education data sharing by 2030.
  • Public bodies responsible for exams across the UK should launch a challenge prize around the use of AI in assessment.

Our research shows many case studies of AI tools being used for assessments, personalised feedback, skills development and reducing teacher workload. Lord Clement-Jones particularly liked the case study of Plymouth School of Creative Arts where students had created Emoti-OS, an AI tool used to improve student wellbeing through a chatbot and emoji installation.

There is a lot at stake here. At a time when many have lost confidence in their ability to shape the future, it is more important than ever that we must approach this area with optimism, strong government leadership, and realism. We need our policymakers to have eyes open to both the benefits and the risks of this technology. So that we can make a real difference to the teachers, learners and the education system.