In 1984, Benjamin Bloom’s research brought to light a key educational insight with his 2 Sigma Problem. He discovered that students who received one-to-one tutoring performed significantly better than those in conventional classroom settings. This ‘2 Sigma’ improvement highlighted the efficacy of personalised instruction. The challenge since then has been replicating this level of success in typical classrooms, where resources are more stretched. Enter AI in Education.
The integration of AI in education is a strategic response to Bloom’s findings, but its importance goes beyond merely adopting new technology.
Firstly, for me, AI in education is about democratising high-quality educational experiences. It offers the possibility of tailoring educational content to each student’s unique needs, helping to bridge gaps in understanding and knowledge. If we are to achieve the opportunities that Bloom’s findings suggest, using tools enhanced by AI in education is key to helping realise the opportunities that knowing the benefits of one-to-one tutoring brings.
Additionally, I would also suggest that AI helps prepare students for a future which will inevitably be even more deeply interwoven with technology, therefore arming them with crucial skills they will need in their future workplaces.
We incorporate AI in education so that the advantages of individualised tutoring can be offered on a larger scale. This means providing every student with educational experiences that are responsive to their unique progress and challenges. This approach is about more than just academic performance; it’s about fostering a more inclusive and equitable educational environment.
Of course, issues surrounding access to technology and the budget to do so persist, but surely, if not now, and, if not after getting caught out by our lack of technological knowledge and access during the pandemic, when? If we are going to make that difference ‘so that’ learners make the strides they deserve to make, investment needs to be prioritised in order to make it happen. Doesn’t it?
AI in Education – Tools Making a Difference
Several AI-enhanced tools spring to mind here with this in mind:
Up Learn, which utilises AI to deliver tailored learning experiences, adapting to students’ progress and areas for development to support students studying a variety of A Level courses.
Tassomai, which leverages AI in science education, employing quizzes and spaced repetition to solidify understanding and knowledge.
CENTURY is another AI-driven teaching and learning platform that aims to offer personalised educational journeys. It uses data analytics to adapt content to the learner’s progress and needs.
Microsoft’s Learning Accelerators, including Reading Progress and Reading Coach, are key tools in this domain. Reading Progress assists teachers in identifying students’ reading levels and challenges, while Reading Coach provides personalised coaching to help students improve their reading skills, closely aligning with the one-to-one tutoring model highlighted in Bloom’s research.
Are We Nearly There Yet?
As we embrace the potential of AI in education, a question we often hear from our students on school trips rings in my ears: “Are we nearly there yet?”
The journey towards fully realising AI’s capability in solving Bloom’s 2 Sigma Problem is ongoing. We’re making significant strides, with some of the tools mentioned above starting to make an impact. However, the full potential of AI in education is still unfolding, but it is doing so at a very rapid pace.
This journey is not just about technology implementation; it’s about a cultural shift in how we perceive and facilitate learning and for my money, should be a conversation happening in every school.
As with all effective implementations, it requires careful thinking and planning and importantly, training teachers to effectively use these tools, ensuring equitable access to technology, and continuously refining AI algorithms to address biases and enhance their effectiveness. The destination is a future where every student benefits from personalised learning experiences that were once the exclusive domain of one-to-one tutoring.
So, while we may not be ‘there’ yet, we are certainly on the right path. Each step forward brings us closer to a world where the 2 Sigma improvement is not an exception but a standard expectation. The question is not just about when we will get there, but how we can plan and ready ourselves for this ensuring equity and a reduction of the digital fivide for all.
Like what I’m sharing here? Almost all of my work supporting schools now focuses on digital strategy (including mapping, planning and training around the use of AI) or specific bespoke training and support around the use of AI for teachers. Do you need that kind of support? If so, please do get in touch. I’d love to work with you.
Recent feedback from City of London Girl’s School:
“Mark delivered a fantastic keynote ‘Tomorrow’s World – teaching in an AI era’. Before the event he was great to work with on tailoring his talk to the needs of our staff, understanding fully the challenges faced by teachers in knowing when and how to use EdTech to enhance teaching and learning. There was something in Mark’s talk for everyone, and we all came away having learned and wanting to try something new.” – Assistant Head, Teaching, Learning and Research.