From T-Rex chatbots to advanced artificial intelligence (AI) learning platforms, AI has begun changing education. According to a recent Stanford University report, by 2030, AI will be far more commonplace in the classroom than it is today.

The report explains that while quality education will always require active engagement by human teachers, AI promises to enhance education at all levels, especially by providing personalization at scale. For many teachers personalized education is a goal that they struggle to reach. Whether it’s too many students, too short class periods, or students with too wide a skill set, many teachers struggle to reach all students on an individual level. However, AI could enable teachers to essentially be in two, six, or even 20 places at once by using a robotic teacher or advanced AI mobile app.

While many K-12 schools and universities have been slow to adopt existing AI technology due to funding concerns and general fears about being early adopters of new technology that may prove to be unsuccessful, the report says that over the next 15 years in a typical North American city, the use of intelligent tutor systems (ITS) and other AI technologies to assist teachers in the classroom and in the home is likely to expand significantly, as will learning based on virtual reality (VR) applications. However, the report does reinforce that computer-based learning systems are not likely to fully replace human teaching in schools.

Teaching robots and ITS will help teachers personalize lesson plans, as well as assist students who are both struggling and learning more quickly than the rest of the class. However, continuing studies on the effectiveness of robots and ITS in the classroom is needed to convince schools and universities that the technology should be adopted.

Another benefit of AI technology is the expansion of data that can be used in learning analytics. By incorporating more technology into the classroom, more data can be gathered on the learning process. The report explains that data sets being collected from massive scale online learning systems, ranging from Massive Open Online Courses to Khan Academy classes, as well as smaller scale online programs, have fueled the rapid growth of the field of learning analytics. Data gathering from online courses can contribute to scientific findings and improve instruction quality and learning outcomes.

Data analytics can help schools identify students who are at risk of failure. Recent work is devoted to understanding the cognitive processes involved in comprehension, writing, knowledge acquisition, and memory, and to applying that understanding to educational practice by developing and testing educational technologies, according to the report.

Over the next decade and a half, AI will not only grow in prominence in the classroom, but also in the home. The report’s study panel expects that more general and more sophisticated virtual reality scenarios in which students can immerse themselves in subjects from all disciplines will be developed. The report explains that this will happen by increasing collaborations between AI researchers and researchers in the humanities and social sciences–which will expand content available to interested students.

The expansion of AI technology will also further blur the lines between formal, classroom education and self-paced, individual learning, says the report. Additionally, in higher education, adaptive learning becomes increasingly more important because of pressure on universities to reduce costs while serving a larger, more diverse number of students.

While AI is currently a buzzword in education, by 2030 it will play a great role in K-12 and higher education. From helping to personalize the learning experience to provide valuable data for education research, AI could help improving learning outcomes for all students.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.