Ready for Artificial Intelligence? An Interview with Rose Luckin

Today marks the start of EDIL 2021 – the virtual rendition of the Ed Media and Innovate Learning Conference. As part of the conference, Rose Luckin is giving a keynote titled: ‘How Can Education Become AI Ready?’, that will take place on Thursday, July 8th. I recently had the opportunity to have a virtual meeting with Dr. Luckin to learn about her current job, her research, and her keynote.   

Have you attended AACE conferences in the past? What is your connection to this community?

I have attended AACE conferences before. I have been to EdMedia before and really enjoyed it.

What do you see as the future of research related to artificial intelligence techniques in teaching and learning?

I think it’s going to grow enormously. There’s been a lot of work in this area in academia.

The difference now is that it’s not just an academic pursuit, there’s more connection with industry and practitioners. I think the future should be one in which there are cross-stakeholder partnerships between developers and academics and practitioners in the classroom or the lecture hall working together because I think that will end up with much better AI being used in education and training. It’s not like a financial services business or an e-commerce site.  Education and training is much more complicated—it does need those partnerships to get it right.

What do you enjoy most about your current job?

I love doing the research, but I’m very much excited by how to take that research into real-world contexts because that’s what really matters to me.  As I’ve got more senior, I’ve felt more energized by seeing something making a difference to students and to teachers, than I am by writing a paper that gets lots of citations. Those types of things are important, but I really like thinking about how you can do more translation and more applied research so that you do end up actually driving change for real people, which I think is really important. I think there are lots of opportunities in this space for doing that now. I feel that the research in this area is in a fantastic place—there’s lots of potential and lots more interest now for doing great research but also making sure that research is translated into the real world and applied effectively.

Is this your first virtual keynote?

No, I’ve done quite a lot in the past year, it’s been really interesting. I’ve been around the world and I haven’t left my office. It’s interesting..I do miss seeing the people because it’s harder to get the real time feedback. Obviously, you can see some chat and sometimes you can see people’s faces, sometimes you can’t, but when you’re actually there you can get a better sense.  But I think it’s brilliant that we can do this virtually- it’s an interesting medium and I can see both the advantages and the disadvantages.

How do you plan to connect with your audience?

I try and choose examples that I hope will really relate to where they are coming from. I also think that I say less when I’m not there in person. I think that somehow it’s easier when you’re in person to pack more in so over the time I’ve been doing them, I’ve moved to less content and taking more time over the content. Also, leaving more time for questions and encouraging people to put questions in the chat. Those things all help, so it’s not just a situation where I’m just delivering and the person is supposed to engage with the material somehow, so those are the things that I have found to work quite well.

What key insights do you hope attendees will take away from your keynote?

I hope that they will take away the fact that they need to get AI ready– if they’re not AI ready yet, they need to get AI ready. I hope that they’ll feel enthusiastic about doing that and I hope that they’ll take away some understandings about how they might go about doing that. And I also hope that they’ll take away a real belief and an understanding about the importance of knowing the difference between artificial and human intelligence. And the fact that while AI does some very smart things and it’s very useful, it’s nowhere near as smart as we are.

I hope that the keynote will be accessible to a broad audience because I think that’s who the audience are. I hope that they will feel that they understand more about what AI could bring to education and how it could really improve the experience for both the teachers and the learners.

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