Photo courtesy of Steve Jurvetson and Wikipedia

A Vision of the Future Today

“Anyone who’s been paying attention to the headlines for the last few months has been seeing headlines [about generative AI] saying ‘Students are going to be using ChatGPT and other forms of AI to cheat,’ ‘ [Chatbots will] do their assignments’, ‘They’re not going to learn.’ ‘And it’s going to undermine education as we know it.’”, said Sal Khan in a recent TED Talk.

Khan, the founder and CEO of Khan Academy, shared his alternative and positive vision for the future of education. He believes that artificial intelligence (AI) could spark the greatest constructive transformation education has ever seen. He announced that he and his colleagues are building AI into the instructional framework of the Khan Academy using OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

Khan shared the opportunities he sees for students and educators to collaborate with AI tools. He envisions a future where every student has access to a personal AI tutor and every teacher has an AI teaching assistant. These tools would work together to provide personalized instruction and support to students on a global level.

He cited a 1984 study by Benjamin Bloom from the University of Chicago, one the of top educational researchers of his time. His Two-Sigma study highlighted the benefits of 1-to-1 tutoring, which resulted in a 2 standard deviation improvement in students’ performance. As Khan says, “Just to put that in plain language, that could take your average student and turn them into an exceptional student. It can take your below-average student and turn them into an above-average student.” This finding has the potential to revolutionize education and make equality in educational quality a reality for everyone. The big problem, of course, is the cost of 1-to-1 tutoring and the logistics of organizing a tutor for each student.

 AI-powered tools like Khanmigo have the potential to help solve this problem by providing personalized instruction and support to students on a global level. By leveraging AI, Khan Academy aims to bring one-on-one tutoring to all students. These include a deep knowledge of what the student knows and what the student does not yet know, immediate and skilled feedback, use of multiple instructional strategies, adaptive pacing, the ability to ask questions and clarify the content, and empowerment of self-directed learning, to all students. Is it any wonder why 1-to-1 tutoring is so effective?

During his talk, Khan gave a live demo of Khan Academy’s new AI-powered guide, Khanmigo. They designed this educational chatbot to provide students with personalized instruction and support. It uses advanced AI algorithms to understand each student’s individual needs and to provide tailored guidance.

Teachers can use Khanmigo as an assistant to help with administrative tasks and save time for working with students. Khanmigo can help educators take their teaching to the next level with AI- guided lesson planning, as well as showing how each student is progressing. This student performance data allows teachers to direct their attention to where students need it most.

Khan believes AI has the potential to scale tutoring economically and provide personalized instruction to students on a global level. With this type of help, students can receive the support they need to succeed in their studies.

Sal Khan’s TED Talk highlights the exciting potential of AI in education. By leveraging advanced technology, we can provide students with personalized instruction and support, helping them achieve their full potential. He urges us not to react out of fear and ban or pause generative AI, as some pessimists counsel. Khan also rejects the over-optimistic idea that we can just sit back and let permit unfettered use and development of AI. He advises us to put in “guardrails and reasonable regulations.” This middle path is harder and will require more work from all of us. But this is the way we can get the benefit of the most important new technology since the internet. As Khan closes his visionary talk, “perhaps the most powerful case and maybe the most poetic, is if artificial intelligence AI can enhance HI, human intelligence, human potential and human purpose.”

Sal Khan’s TED Talk on the Future of AI in Education

Interested in what students can accomplish? Check out my new book: Teen Innovators: Nine Young People Engineering a Better World with Creative Inventions

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