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  • Writer's pictureDr. Chris Summers

Embracing the Future: 5 Ways Educators Can Harness AI for Professional Learning

Updated: Mar 30


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In the rapidly evolving landscape of education, the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a game-changer for educators. Much has been made of the potential positive and negative implications that AI might have on student performance in classrooms. At the same time, AI also offers educators an incredible array of innovative tools to enhance professional learning experiences. As educators adapt to new technologies and teaching methodologies, AI is emerging as a powerful ally in fostering continuous growth and professional development. Let’s explore five ways in which educators can embrace the future and leverage AI to create relevant, engaging, and more personalized professional learning experiences for teachers.


Personalized Learning Paths:

A key principle of adult learning theory (andragogy) is the importance of relevance and impact to the learner’s immediate life. Adults are most interested in engaging with and learning from experiences that directly impact their personal lives and jobs (Knowles, 1984). Essentially, the more personalized the learning experience, the more likely it will be viewed as engaging, relevant, and worthwhile. AI can better enable the creation of personalized learning paths tailored to individual teacher needs. By analyzing data on teaching styles, student engagement, and assessment results, AI algorithms can identify areas for improvement and suggest targeted professional development activities. This ensures that teachers receive professional learning aligned to their specific needs, making the learning experience more relevant and impactful. Two examples of websites that illustrate this opportunity are:

  • EdSurge offers personalized learning recommendations for educators. Through its platform, educators can explore resources, articles, and tools tailored to their professional development needs. The AI algorithms consider individual preferences to provide relevant suggestions.

  • Edthena is an online platform that supports teachers' professional development through video coaching and collaboration. The platform facilitates the use of video as a tool for teacher reflection, coaching, and feedback.

Intelligent Mentorship Programs:

We know that quality teacher induction, along with effective mentoring programs, helps increase teacher retention and provide critical support during the early years of learning the craft of teaching. However, some districts or campuses may struggle to provide consistent mentoring support to new teachers. Implementing AI-driven mentorship programs can provide teachers with a consistent, ongoing support and guidance system to increase their likelihood of success and maturation as an educator. Today, AI tools can analyze teaching practices, identify areas of strength and weakness, and match teachers with mentors who possess expertise in those specific areas. This personalized approach to mentorship fosters a collaborative learning environment, allowing educators to share insights and strategies that contribute to their professional growth. A couple of examples include:

  • eObservation specializes in developing and providing classroom observation tools that focus on teachers’ pedagogy and classroom management systems. By collecting teacher performance data through a variety of tools, the observers then share the data with teachers and help them reflect on their practice.

  • Sibme uses a hybrid program, AI-powered tools, and live coaches to assist teachers in investigating their current teaching practices in a collaborative environment and receive feedback from our highly qualified instructional coaches.

Collaborative AI Tools for Knowledge Sharing:

An extension of effective mentorship is the importance of collaborative professionalism. Research by Hargreaves and O’Connor (2018) illustrates the importance of developing strong collegial relationships and utilizing expert knowledge to grow and develop as an educator. AI can facilitate access to expert knowledge and foster sharing among educators through a variety of collaborative tools. These tools can analyze and organize educational resources, research articles, and best practices, making it easier for teachers to access relevant information. AI-powered collaboration tools can facilitate communication and idea exchange among educators, creating a community of continuous learners. A few examples of collaborative AI websites include:

  • Feedly is a content aggregation platform that uses AI to curate articles and blogs based on users' interests. Educators can subscribe to education-related feeds, blogs, and publications to receive a curated stream of content tailored to their preferences.

  • Pocket is a content curation tool that allows users to save articles, videos, and web pages for later viewing. While it doesn't use AI for curation, it provides a convenient way for educators to collect and organize resources they come across during their online activities.

  • Scoop.it is a content curation platform that lets users create topic-based boards and curate content related to those topics. Educators can use Scoop.it to curate resources on education, teaching strategies, and technology.

AI-Powered Feedback and Assessment:

From within the practice of meaningful collaborative professionalism comes the important component of feedback. Traditional feedback methods and assessment data analysis can be time-consuming and subjective. AI can streamline this process by automating the evaluation of lesson plans, assessments, and classroom activities. This not only saves time but also provides teachers with instant, constructive feedback. AI can analyze patterns in student performance, identify areas for improvement in teaching practices, and even suggest targeted professional learning opportunities. This real-time feedback loop accelerates the learning curve, allowing teachers to adapt and refine their practices more efficiently. Here are two examples:

  • Vosaic utilizes AI to analyze teaching practices through video footage. Educators can record and upload classroom sessions, and Vosaic's AI algorithms provide insights into teaching techniques, student engagement, and other critical aspects. This tool enables educators to reflect on their teaching methods, receive objective feedback, and identify areas for improvement. It enhances the reflective component of professional learning, fostering continuous growth.

  • TeachFX is an app for teachers that uses voice AI to measure student engagement, the equity of voice, and the discourse patterns in a teacher’s virtual or in-person classroom. Like an instructional coach, the app provides teachers with targeted pedagogical feedback on their teaching practice.

Virtual Reality (VR) Simulations:

Providing authentic examples and real-time problem-solving has always been challenging in the education setting. Because we are interacting with children in classrooms and the setting is quite dynamic, engaging in real-time analysis and reflection is oftentimes not realistic. However, AI-driven virtual reality simulations offer teachers immersive and experiential learning opportunities that can foster real-time, authentic analysis and reflection. These simulations can recreate challenging classroom scenarios, allowing educators to practice decision-making in a risk-free environment. By incorporating AI to adapt scenarios based on individual teacher responses, professional learning becomes dynamic and responsive to the specific needs of each educator. This hands-on approach enhances skills and confidence, leading to more effective teaching practices. Here are a few companies that provide this type of practice:

  • Mursion is a virtual reality platform that uses AI to simulate realistic conversations and scenarios. While it is often used for corporate training, it has applications in education. Educators can engage in simulated interactions with virtual students, allowing them to practice decision-making in various teaching scenarios.

  • Scenario Learning is a SafeSchools company that provides online safety and compliance training, including simulated scenarios for educators. While the focus is on safety and compliance, some scenarios involve decision-making in challenging classroom situations.

  • TeachLivE, developed by the University of Central Florida, is a mixed-reality classroom simulator. It uses avatars controlled by human operators to simulate realistic classroom scenarios. Educators can interact with these avatars to practice decision-making in teaching situations.

As education continues to embrace technological advancements, educators must leverage the power of AI to create dynamic, personalized, and effective professional learning experiences. By harnessing AI for personalized learning paths, intelligent mentorship programs, enhanced collaborative professionalism, AI-powered feedback, and VR simulations, educators can equip themselves with the skills and knowledge needed to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of education successfully. Embracing AI in professional learning is not just a futuristic concept—it's a practical and transformative approach to cultivating a community of empowered and continually improving educators.


References:

Knowles, M. (1984). Andragogy in Action. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Hargreaves, A., & O’Connor, M. T. (2018). Solidarity with solidity: The case for collaborative professionalism. Phi Delta Kappan, 100(1), 20-24. https://doi.org/10.1177/0031721718797116


Dr. Chris Summers is the Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education for Montgomery ISD. Prior to that, he was Assistant Superintendent for Sealy ISD for three years. He is currently in his second year serving on the Learning Forward Texas Board of Directors. He was the Director of Curriculum and chief academic officer for West Oso ISD for four years and, before that, served 12 years as a campus principal. He has a great interest in developing educators and empowering educational leaders to be effective instructional leaders for their campuses.





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