Replace email with AI to reduce teachers’ workload

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Teachers should not have to email outside of office hours and should instead embrace innovative technology such as AI to help to reduce their workload, suggests the Education Secretary.

Addressing more than 800 of the world’s leading tech companies and start-ups, as well as school representatives and international education ministers, at the Bett Show in London, Mr Hinds told teachers and school leaders to make smarter use of technology, both inside and outside of the classroom, to make sure that it does not add to teachers’ responsibilities.

 

The Education Secretary said that while education technology has the power to transform education, its growth in the classroom has created both opportunities and challenges.

 

He cited the example of email and the impact it has had on working lives.

 

Mr Hinds said, ‘More than half of teachers’ time is spent on non-teaching tasks, including planning, marking and admin, and that workload is one of the most common reasons for teachers leaving the profession. Education is one of the few sectors where technology has been associated with an increase in workload rather than the reverse. And let’s think why.

 

‘Back when I was at school there was an annual parents evening and a report at the end of the year. Maybe a letter home if there was a school trip. That report still happens and so does the parents evening, but email has revolutionised parent, teacher communication. Email hasn’t replaced much—mostly it has just added.

 

Many schools are already reviewing their school practices to reduce workload – and to those who haven’t already, I encourage them to look at what they can do to shift away from an email culture in, and into, school to free teachers up to spend more time in the classroom.’

 

Damian Hinds cited Bolton College, which is using an artificial intelligence to reduce the hours teachers spend on administrative tasks:

 

‘At Bolton College, for instance, they have used IBM Watson, an artificial intelligence programme, to build a virtual clerk they call ‘Ada’. Ada helps deliver personalised learning and assessment for 14,000 students [and] queries about attendance or curriculum content.

 

It has saved Bolton’s staff hours and hours of time they would have spent on admin either at college or in their own spare time.’

 

February 2019

Digital Learning
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