Smart Review | The Promise and Implications of Artificial Intelligence in Education

“AI is arguably the number one driving technological force of the first half of this century, and will transform virtually every industry, if not human endeavors at large,” said Charles Fadel.

Fadel is the founder of the Center for Curriculum Redesign and has a new book on Artificial Intelligence in Education. He wrote it with his research manager Maya Bialik and Dr. Wayne Holmes, Open University.

“We have tried addressing the impact of AI on both the What and the How of education,” said Fadel.

The What section aimed at policymakers and curriculum designers introduces the Center’s comprehensive curriculum framework (detailed in his last book Four Dimensional Education).

The framework (below) breaks educational goals into four dimensions: Knowledge (what we know and understand), Skills (what we can do with what we know), Character (how we behave and engage in the world) and Meta-Learning (how we reflect and adapt).


The What section makes a case for the necessity to focus on a broad and deep, versatile education as a hedge against uncertain futures, which means a reinvigorated focus on the deeper learning goals of a modern education:

  • Versatility for robustness to face life and work;
  • Relevance for applicability, and student motivation; and
  • Transfer for broad future actionability.

“Education has always been about transfer,” said the authors, “but now there is more than ever the need to make these the focus of an education in a deliberate, systematic, comprehensive and demonstrable way.”

The authors argue the curriculum should be “flipped so that students spend more time focused on transfer and expertise via concepts rather than on learning content that can now be easily accessed and manipulated.”

The How section addresses teachers and EdTech professionals. It includes a quick overview of AI and related concepts, a brief history of how AI has been used in education particularly adaptive learning, tutoring systems, and writing feedback systems.

The authors outline future applications of classroom AI including collaborative learning, discussion monitoring, teaching and research assistants, as well as a personalized learning guide and companions for learners.

They describe the potential for a continuous assessment model that ends standardized testing and results in “a robust, accredited, in-depth record of all their learning experiences and achievements.”

However, they warn that tutoring systems could reduce student agency. They also urge discussion of ethical and privacy issues associated with new systems.

Artificial Intelligence In Education: Promises and Implications for Teaching and Learning is a useful synthesis of AI applications in education but most useful for outlining the new aims it demands of secondary education.

For more see:

This post is a part of the Getting Smart Future of Work Campaign. The future of work will bring new challenges and cause us to shift how we think about jobs and employability — so what does this mean for teaching and learning? In our exploration of the #FutureOfWork, sponsored by eduInnovation and powered by Getting Smart, we dive into what’s happening, what’s coming and how schools might prepare. For more, follow #futureofwork and visit our Future of Work page.

The book, Artificial Intelligence in Education – Promises and Implications for Teaching and Learning, was provided to Getting Smart at no cost for an optional review. If you’d like to send a book in for consideration of a book review, please email [email protected].

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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