The rise of AI-powered tools has sparked alarm among educators, and triggered conversations about its possible detriment to teaching and learning. Researchers from the University of South Australia (UniSA) are proving how artificial intelligence (AI) can enhance learning outcomes for students, equip teachers with advanced education tools, and overhaul the education sector for good.
Professor George Siemens is a renowned education technologist from UniSA. His research in learning analytics, personalised learning and human-machine augmentation reveals the transformative potential of AI in education.“Through learning analytics and AI-powered systems, we can unlock valuable, data-driven insights that help us understand how students learn,” Prof Siemens says.
“Advanced insights into student progress will enable us to design more effective and personalised educational experiences.”
Prof Siemens is also the Director of the Centre for Change and Complexity in Learning (C3L) at UniSA. “We look at how humans can work with – not against – AI to enhance learning, sensemaking and productivity,” he says.
World-first research from UniSA’s C3L has led to the creation of ‘learner profiles’, technology that is being trialled in several Australian schools. The learner profiles provide real-time analysis of a student’s learning, study behaviours, and emotional wellbeing.The project’s lead researchers, Dr Vitomir Kovanović and Dr Rebecca Marrone, say the technology has the potential to “significantly improve” the quality of teaching and learning in Australia.
“These profiles, accessible via an online dashboard, will show how a student is learning at any point in time, which will help teachers quickly identify which children need support,” Dr Kovanović says. Dr Marrone says that this means “teachers can respond to each child’s needs in a timely and appropriate manner”.
AI also has the capacity to improve teacher-student engagement in other ways. Prof Siemens says course development, lesson plans and attendance records are tasks that “distract from classroom teaching”, but AI has the capability to take on such tasks. “The role of AI is not to replace teachers but to augment their capabilities,” he says. “By automating administrative tasks, we free up time to foster critical thinking, creativity and social-emotional skills that are uniquely human.”
AI is already shifting the goalposts on how people learn. So, how can the education sector respond, and how can teachers work effectively with it? UniSA Professor in Augmented and Networked Learning Maarten de Laat has addressed this issue with AI Playground – an AI learning environment created in collaboration with Intel and meldCX.
“AI Playground teaches students to solve problems with AI, like building a rover that explores Mars. “By gamifying AI in this way, teachers can spark conversations in the classroom about what we can achieve with AI, and what’s ethical.”
The integration of AI in education holds immense potential for transforming teaching and learning practices. The research at UniSA highlights AI’s capability to enhance personalised education, unlock learner insights, and equip educators with the tools to transform classrooms.