American tech giant Microsoft has announced new AI-powered classroom tools to help students sharpen their speaking and mathematical skills. The company believes it will make teachers’ job a little easier as students prepare for an even more technologically advanced future, Engadget reports.
The new tools will be launched in Teams for Education ahead of the 2023–24 school year.
One AI classroom tool, Speaker Progress, helps to save time by “streamlining the process of creating, reviewing, and analyzing speaking and presentation assignments for students, groups, and classrooms.”
“The tool can provide tidy summaries of presentation-based skills, while highlighting areas to improve and let teachers review student recordings, identify their needs, and track progress,” revealed Microsoft.
Speaker Progress gives concise overviews of presentation skills and determines areas that need improvement. Moreover, it allows teachers to evaluate student recordings, recognize their requirements, and monitor their development.
AI-powered educational progress
Speaker Progress is viewed by the company as a complement to Speaker Coach, a feature released in 2021. The new tool uses AI to provide individualized speaking guidance and feedback, including real-time pointers on pacing, pitch, and filler words. Together, these tools aim to help people improve their public speaking skills and become more confident communicators.
“Speaker Coach is one of those tools that was a lightbulb tool for a lot of students that I’ve worked with. Being able to practise and get real-time feedback is where Speaker Coach really comes in and helps our students, and it even helps us as adults,” said an unnamed teacher in a Microsoft launch video.
Another AI tool, Match Coach, breaks down problems for students and guides them through steps to solving them with a boost in critical thinking. Match Progress, meanwhile, is a companion for teachers to practise questions and provide more efficient feedback.
“The features complement one another: Math Coach uses teacher feedback from Math Progress to develop new lessons; schools can use the tools’ overall math fluency data to track progress and better meet their objectives,” said the company.
‘AI to Enhance Education in the Classroom’
Artificial intelligence continues to penetrate many sectors, and many experts and professors believe it will enhance education in the classroom.
Harvard Business School Assistant Professor Edward McFowland III compared generative AI, like ChatGPT, to other educational tools, such as the calculator and Wikipedia. While the professor acknowledged the benefits of the former, which can output responses and calculations rapidly, he also noted that it sources a broad swathe of information with varying degrees of accuracy. In this sense, it has similar drawbacks to other, existing tools, as per Foxnews.
McFowland expressed concern that the sophistication of this type of AI could lead people to trust it and accept its information without taking time to evaluate other sources.
Earlier this week, Microsoft’s Bing chatbot made several factual errors during its launch demo, causing embarrassment for the company. News outlet CNET also recently issued multiple corrections on articles, after leveraging an AI-powered tool to help write stories.
Although stories such as these highlight the limits of AI at present, the technology is always improving. One Wharton Business School professor believes ChatGPT is even capable of achieving a B to B- grade on an MBA exam, a discovery that will have “important implications for business school education, including the need for exam policies.”