New York Times journalist Craig S. Smith’s recent “The Machines Are Learning and So Are the Students,” explains that artificial intelligence has found its way into the teaching life by taking over such mundane tasks as grading.
It is, indeed, a brave new world, and, as Smith’s piece outlines, educators like Gloucester County Christian School’s algebra teacher Jennifer Turner have embraced it wholeheartedly via Bakpax–“a computer vision system that converts handwriting to text and interprets what the student meant to say. The system’s auto-grader teaches itself how to score.”
As the platform’s site puts it: “Bakpax lets you be a teacher not a grader,” and then explainsL
- Teachers photograph the assignment or upload a PDF and then Bakpax “converts the questions and answers to formatted, interactive text. Answers can be up to four words in length, as well as any numerical value.”
- Students photograph their work, thus handing them in digitally. Says Bakpax, “No more, ‘The dog ate my homework!’”
- Bakpax then immediately does the grading and, by providing the analytics, “teachers can use the daily record of what students got right and wrong to understand their classes better than ever.”
What’s not to like, right?
Well, honestly, I’m not so sure. As tedious as it is to grade countless papers, there’s something rather personal about it, but then I’m old school, very old school…
Indeed, Ms. Turners is quoted as saying, “The grades have been much better this year because of Bakpax. Students are excited to be in my room, they’re telling me they love math, and those are things I don’t normally hear.”
And this is just the beginning.
Writes Smith, “Researchers are using A.I. to understand how the brain learns and are applying it to systems that they hope will make it easier and more enjoyable for students to study. Machine-learning-powered systems not only track students’ progress, spot weaknesses and deliver content according to their needs, but will incorporate human-like interfaces that students will be able to converse with as they would a teacher.”
But that begs the question: What about the teacher?