How will artificial intelligence impact K-12 teachers?
This week McKinsey published a new report addressing the question of how AI will impact K-12 teachers. The research suggests that 20-40% of current teacher time comprises tasks that could be automated. They estimate that teachers could re-direct approximately 13 hours per week towards activities that raise student outcomes and increase teacher satisfaction. The tasks of preparing lessons, administration, evaluation and feedback are flagged as high potential for automation.
These results echo those of last year’s Learning Impact Survey of Sanoma, in which teachers indicated a desire to go digital in those areas which were most labour intensive, flagging essentially the same areas. This suggests that not only is the opportunity in these tasks but that the profession is also ready for solutions.
Teaching profession under pressure
The teacher is by far the most positive intervention in education. However the teaching profession faces significant challenges. UNESCO estimates an additional 69m teachers need to enter the profession by 2030 to fulfil global demand. In some parts of the world, teacher turnover is high, for example in parts of the USA annual teacher turnover reaches 16%. In the UK 81% of teachers are considering leaving the profession due to dis-satisfaction.
Higher impact & happier teachers needed!
Furthermore, on average teachers spend only half of their time actually teaching. This represents not only lost productivity from the core task but is also demotivating for many teachers whose passion is to teach rather than the ancillary tasks around it. Enabling teacher workflow could therefore not only increase productivity but also make the profession more attractive.
$400bn impact & opportunity
Make no mistake, the opportunity to solve this productivity gap is huge. Measured in terms of financials, assuming global spending on education to be some $6trn, of which 45% is on K-12 education, and of which 75% is spent on staff salaries, this implies a global spend on teaching/staff salaries of some $2trn per year. A 20-40% uplift in productivity through AI could arguably be worth some $400-800bn per year in terms of paid and unpaid output! Which is not to say that this is a saving governments could make or a revenue that education companies could earn, because a significant slice of that value should rightfully return to teachers through higher salaries and quality of life, and another part would rightfully get re-directed to teacher-student interaction to increase outcomes and professional satisfaction.
Help the teacher to focus on teaching!
Nevertheless, it’s my belief that the teacher will continue to be the killer app in education, and that the biggest opportunity to make not only a positive impact on learning and teaching in K-12 but also to build a successful business, is to enable the workflow of the teacher. Probably by combining it with the other side of the same coin: the learn-flow of the pupil. What other opportunities at this scale of potential impact are possible in K-12 within the next 5 years?