21 Dec 2021 Verbit Editorial
5min read

Artificial Intelligence: What K-12 School Leaders Should Know

Many educators are aware that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a key ingredient in the ed-tech tools they’re using or considering purchasing. Fewer can articulate what AI actually is.

While AI continues to gain traction in education and in a variety of different industries and business use cases, professionals in K-12 schools often aren’t aware of the benefits it can offer them. AI is being used by many educators to better meet the needs of students with disabilities and help teachers who often report feeling overworked be more efficient. Also, AI is shown to save 20-40% of a teacher’s time. That stat translates into about 13 extra hours per week—time which could be better spent to support student learning.

Online and hybrid learning increase the opportunities to turn to AI to address K-12 students’ daily needs. K-12 educators should take note of AI to drive both their own success and the success of their students. 

What Is Artificial Intelligence?

On a high level, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is technology that simulates human intelligence. AI creators aim to build technologies that produce, communicate and recognize much like a human would, but faster and more efficiently. Simple tools like calculators were once considered AI, but the technology has greatly evolved in the education space.

Educators can now use AI technology to personalize learning to their students, make teaching online easier and improve communication with parents. K-12  educators shouldn’t be fearful if they don’t understand the inner workings of AI. Instead, they can rest assured that applying AI is easy. The sooner they do, they’ll be able to better address accessibility needs for students with disabilities, better manage their classrooms and share information more easily with students and parents.

Applying AI in K-12 Schools

Here are some key technologies based on AI that educators can start leveraging in K-12 classrooms:

  • AI-Powered Chatbots: The same technology that powers the chatbots on a business’ website are now being used to take on the roles of teachers, advisers and tutors for students. K-12 schools are embracing chatbots as a way to connect with students and their parents more, with a conversational AI that provides useful interactions and quick answers to questions. For example, teachers could make use of a chatbot to provide auto-responses to student questions in the evening, such as details about assignments and due dates. Chatbots are also shown to improve communication with families.
  • Captioning and Audio Description Tools: With more video being embedded into the learning experience and greater online learning being offered, ensuring the needs of students with disabilities are met when participating is essential. AI-based accessibility tools like captioning and audio description are offering equity to these students, including those who are Deaf or hard of hearing. AI is being used to live caption online classes and provide word-for-word notes via transcripts so all students can engage. However, in order for these AI tools to be effective, a process like Verbit’s which uses humans to edit the AI’s work in real-time is necessary to meet the benchmarks of accuracy required by the ADA for true student equity. Aside from students with disability needs, captions and transcripts initiated by AI benefit all students, improving their comprehension and memory when learning.
  • Digital Assistant Devices: Digital voice assistants like Amazon’s Echo Device can  help save educators time while they’re busy in the classroom. These assistants are trained with AI to recognize voice commands and answer simple questions and requests. They  allow teachers  to pause and play videos being used for lessons audibly and even set timers for students to complete tasks.
  • Web Accessibility Tools: Assistive technologies like screen readers and browser extensions are making online learning more accessible for students who are blind or have low vision. AI tools like Google’s Conceptual Captions can read images and add automatic alt-text to images online. Plus, accessibility checkers like WAVE can make key improvements to school websites with more accessible headings and graphics in the same way a human would read something over and make changes. Web accessibility is essential to make school  websites accessible to students and parents with vision-related disabilities. Tools like Verbit’s Audio Description are also being used to improve the learning experience for those who are blind or have low vision.

Start Dipping Your Toe in AI

AI technology isn’t designed nor capable of replacing beloved teachers. Rather, it will help educators ensure better, more engaging learning experiences. AI will enable K-12 instructors  to teach more efficiently with time-saving classroom technologies and offer greater accessibility for students with disabilities or those who are struggling while remote.

Verbit’s in-house AI was developed for the education industry’s needs. Consider starting by offering useful tools like captioning and transcription that adhere to ADA guidelines to help K-12 students  learn with equity and in more engaging formats when online. 

To enhance the learning experience with effective AI technology designed for your K-12 schools’ needs, reach out.