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Teaching is set for AI overhaul

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‘Queen of the Internet’ Mary Meeker is back with a prediction about the future of education—and those who work in it.

Teaching is the hottest industry for Gen Z grads right now, but those dreaming of stepping into the shoes of those who inspired them should know that the industry could look a world away from the one they grew up in.
“The university of the future will not look like the university of today,” the visionary Mary Meeker warned in her latest Bond Capital report. “We are living in an amazingly exciting time for technological innovation, and it can’t be stopped.”
The veteran Wall Street analyst made a name for herself in the ’90s as the “Queen of the Internet” after being one of the first to predict the web’s impact on everyone’s lives.
Before the subsequent dotcom bust briefly dented her reputation, her 1995 Internet Trends reports became known as the bible for tech investors—and she’s not stopped writing predictions about the future since.
Now, after a four-year break since Meeker last published a report, she has returned to give her insights on how AI will impact teaching and, more specifically, universities—and it’s good news for those who dread the idea of marking homework every evening.

Teacher-pupil trust will be even lower than it is today

Research shows that trust in teachers is already plunging to an all-time low. But Meeker’s analysis suggests it’s only going to get worse.
As the shining bright faces of tomorrow will have so much more information readily available to them, teachers will have an even tougher job getting their pupils to listen to them as authoritative figures.
“The rapidly accelerating volume and accessibility of information online, for better or worse, means that students (and others) no longer take leading opinions on faith,” Meeker explained.
It means that the teachers of tomorrow will need to fight with content creators—some of whom are spouting fake news and spreading
misogynistic views that are already being repeated in classrooms—for students’ confidence.
“Trust in authority and institutions is foundational to a civil society, and earning (and reearning) that trust is a challenge and an opportunity.”
Teachers will also have a hard time steering pupils away from taking in “facts” from hallucinating large language models that contradict textbooks.
“AI tutors are now available to anyone with internet access…And, in the land of artificial intelligence—well, the intelligence (just like in the real world) can be artificial,” Meeker added. “Models can provide one answer and get it way right…or way wrong.”
To top it off, teachers will have to deal with students dismissing them not only because of what they read online but also because they don’t think school is needed for career success anymore.
As Meeker explains, “Increasingly, younger people seek out income streams that do not require accredited licenses and/or degrees, with the ability to earn ad hoc income via on-demand service work.” In the end, it could result in smaller university classrooms and checked-out students who don’t believe they need to be there.

Less admin and more time to ‘cheerlead’

Although AI will mean teachers have a harder time inspiring the youth of tomorrow, it will also free up a lot more time for them to focus on precisely that.
“The promise of AI is to enable a new art of teaching that enhances students’ ability to think and reason while letting AI do more of the processing,” Meeker explained.
“As technology evolves and becomes more widely available, teachers should be able to save time and increase productivity, focusing more on their core craft by leveraging AI for more time-intensive tasks.” Essentially, she suggests that AI should eliminate much of the drudgery of teaching, like marking homework and devising lesson plans well into the evening.
At the same time, AI-made lesson plans will be more tailored to each student’s needs thanks to its ability to analyze performance, learning styles, and knowledge gaps.
Future teachers could also have access to attendance tracking, intervention alerts for students falling behind, and lifelike guest lecturers.
“Imagine discussing Newton’s third law with Newton himself,” Meeker wrote, adding that “minimizing stale lessons” and “reducing unpaid teacher prep work” will both lessen teacher burnout and enhance creativity in the classroom.
Ultimately, like most jobs that are set for an AI makeover, teachers will have more time to focus on the human components of the job. “Tomorrow’s teachers may serve as cheerleader/coach as well as tutor, making the classroom more welcoming,” Meeker concluded.

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