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Can Computers Ever Replace the Classroom?

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Can Computers Ever Replace the Classroom?

The Guardian,

5 min read
4 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Thanks to machine learning, students can learn more, faster. But so too can providers and governments – about them.

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Machine learning holds promise for democratizing education. It can bring personalized, interactive learning into reach for anyone with a tablet and an internet connection. This interesting yet unsettling article for The Guardian examines the dark side of AI-assisted learning. Alex Beard – a former teacher and author of Natural Born Learners – describes how, while students are learning through virtual teachers, the providers are learning just as much about them.


AI-driven adaptive learning promises to supercharge learning for anyone with access to it.

US companies such as the Alt School and IBM’s Knewton, the learning app Byju’s in India, and Century Tech in Europe are touting the power of online and personalized learning – and receiving outsized funding to pursue it. The addition of artificial intelligence (AI) is spurring a new generation of innovation in learning. TV viewers in China have seen virtual teachers outperform human teachers in competitions, and AI teachers are already replacing humans, just as AI X-ray analysts are eclipsing human radiologists and AI lawyers are taking over research tasks from paralegals. Proponents promise that AI will develop the ability to provide exactly the learning each student needs – delivered exactly when and how they need it. The technology could even add to understanding of the human brain, through analysis of millions of observations of students’ responses to learning tasks and practice sessions.

This kind of learning is already sweeping China.

In 2018, China’s private education market saw the entry of 60 new AI-based start-...

About the Author

Alex Beard, the author of Natural Born Learners, is a former teacher who now works at Teach for All.

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