Teacher workload – How AI can save teachers time
Yvonne Buluma Samba takes a look at how AI could potentially be saviour of admin-burdened educators everywhere…
Teachers often spend up to 25 extra hours a week on marking and administration. For NQTs, that number may be as high as 40 – on top of their standard 40-hour teaching week.
Consequently, teachers are overworked, fed up with time-consuming admin and quitting in droves – which is where AI may have a key role to play. From helping teaching staff reduce their planning and administration to automating question sets, marking and predictive grades, AI has the power to dramatically reduce the marking and admin burden for teachers.
What’s the issue?
With most secondary school teachers teaching upwards of 21 hours per week across multiple classes and year groups, and sometimes two or even three different subjects, admin can build up quickly. From lesson planning to ongoing assessment, marking and feedback, there are typically numerous tasks to fulfil before teachers can actually get on with teaching.
The outdated, manual nature of these tasks only adds to the problem. As Anthony Seldon, deputy chairman of the recent Times Education Commission, remarked last year, “Britain still has a recognisably 19th century school system, facilitated by 20th century technology, which is now unfit for purpose in the 21st century.”
Much of the technology already present in schools will often have been rolled out in a fragmented way, with not enough thought given as to how teachers and students will use it. At a typical school, you can expect to see PowerPoint being used for presentations, Teams employed for staff scheduling, the deployment of subject-specific interactive learning applications such as Cahoot and entirely separate platforms used to co-ordinate classroom learning – which, if anything, merely adds yet more volume to teachers’ workload.
The alternative to this is using AI-powered platforms to log and process learning data, thus enabling teachers to automatically assesses, personalise and adapt the learning in lessons while benefitting from immediate intervention and real-time evaluation.
Pre-planned lessons can be tailored to specific classes and even individual students, with in-lesson questioning run through an app or platform that lets teachers automatically check for understanding and adapt lessons accordingly.
This type of real-time evaluation does away with the need for frequent manual marking by capturing data about where students may need more support or have gaps in their knowledge.
The same data can then be used to effectively automate and personalise homework assignments and future lesson planning. As well as reducing teacher admin, the technology can give teachers the tools, data and time to focus on what they do best – supporting student learning and coaching students, rather than simply examining them.
The benefits of AI extend even further beyond that. Many teachers will have experienced students being reluctant to speak up and ask for help. As a result, teachers can sometimes miss that some students haven’t yet grasped a particular topic, storing up problems for later.
Having conducted pilots with a hundred teachers and a thousand students, we’ve found that AI-enabled technology can provide teachers with precisely the information they need to see which pupils have understood lesson content. Providing an alternative means of communication makes it more likely that less confident students will ask questions and flag moments of misunderstanding, thus improving engagement.
The AI technology space within schools is developing fast. We need to arm our schools with tools fit for the 21st century that can help tackle the administrative burden and finally reduce teacher attrition.
Yvonne Buluma Samba is a former teacher and the CEO of e-spaces – an AI-enabled real time teaching and marking platform.
E-spaces is currently running pilot programmes with several schools and would welcome approaches from any schools or teachers interested in participating; to find out more, visit e-spaces.org or follow @e__spaces