LINCS Discussion on education applications of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)

Welcome to our week-long discussion on education applications of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). We will begin today, Monday, October 14th, with an opportunity for our panelists to provide further information about their work and interests in these areas, and with a focus on Artificial Intelligence. On Tuesday we will continue a focus on Artificial Intelligence; on Wednesday we will add a focus on Virtual Reality; on Thursday we'll add a focus on Augmented Reality. The panel discussion will continue through Friday.

I will next re-post in this discussion thread some of the early posts that were included in the bulletin announcing this discussion. My apologies for this duplication to those who get posts and comments by email, but I think this will enable everyone to have the same information in one discussion thread.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups




Hello Integrating Technology  and Program Management Colleagues,

During the week of October 14th the LINCS Integrating Technology and Program Management groups will host a weeklong asynchronous discussion with a cutting- edge panel of experts in education applications of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR).  An important professional development feature of LINCS is to keep you current with innovations in the adult basic skills field. K-12 education and higher education have been exploring teaching and learning applications of Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality for several years, although this is relatively new to adult basic skills education practitioners.  This is an opportunity for LINCS members, and others who may be interested, to learn about and discuss examples of innovations in AI, VR and AR that have been specifically designed for adult learners, or that have been designed for K-12 students, and have promise for adult basic skills learners. 

The expert panel includes:

  • Art Graesser, PhD. Department of Psychology and Institute of Intelligent Systems, University of Memphis.  Dr. Graesser is a professor in the Department of Psychology and the Institute of Intelligent Systems at the University of Memphis and is an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford.  Art Graesser and his University of Memphis colleagues, working with the Center for the Study of Adult Literacy at Georgia State University, have developed and tested the use of AutoTutor, an intelligent tutoring system that holds conversations with adult learners in natural language.
  • Susan Gaer. An emeritus professor of English, specializing in ESL at Santa Anna College in Southern California, Susan Gaer has been a subject matter expert and technology integration professional development specialist for OTAN, California’s statewide adult basic skills technology professional development organization. She is a partner of World Education’s Education Technology Center, and is also President Elect of the California Association of Teachers to Speakers of Other Languages (CATESOL). She has focused on using VR with ESL students from beginning to advanced levels.
  • Cliff Archey.  As Senior Education Program Manager for IBM Corporate Social Responsibility, in his current role Cliff is the Offering Manager for Teacher Advisor With Watson, managing the strategic direction and implementation of this free AI-enhanced planning tool for teachers.
  • Johan E. Uvin, Ph.D. As President, Institute for Educational Leadership, Dr. Uvin’s work in the field of adult basic skills education, including ESOL/ESL includes positions as an ESOL teacher and program administrator in Boston, an associate state director of adult education in Massachusetts, a state director of adult education in Rhode Island, and as Assistant Secretary of Education in the U.S. Department of Education. He first engaged in Virtual Reality work when he represented the federal government on a Virtual and Augmented Reality Summit where he promoted the use of VR for training and development purposes. He subsequently provided oversight to the EdSim Challenge. Most recently, he has been working with Oculus to expand VR applications in the education sector, particularly focused on creating access to hardware and applications in communities where children, youth, and adults never get to access these new emerging technologies due to lack of resources.
  • Robert Murphy, Ph. D. is a Senior Policy Researcher at the RAND Corporation. Before joining RAND, Dr. Murphy was the director of evaluation research for SRI International’s Center for Technology in Learning where he was the Principle Investigator for the Technologies for Adult Basic Literacies Evaluation (TABLE) study. He was a panelist in the 2016 LINCS Discussion, Recent Research on Technology and Adult Basic Skills. Dr. Murphy’s research focuses on research and evaluation of innovative educational and workforce training programs and technologies. He is author of Artificial Intelligence Applications to Support K–12 Teachers and Teaching, A Review of Promising Applications, Opportunities, and Challenges.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups


Hello Colleagues,

Our discussion on AI, VR, and AR officially begins Monday October 14th, although -- as Monday is a holiday for some of our panelists, and some members of the LINCS Integrating Technology and Program Management groups -- they may not join us until Tuesday, October 15th.

Panelists, If you wish, please add to the brief introductions I posted by replying to this comment with more information about yourself and with suggested readings for the discussion.

LINCS members who wish to join this discussion,  I hope you will read the short paper by Dr. Robert Murphy -- "Perspective Artificial Intelligence Applications to Support K-12 Teachers and Teaching A Review of Promising Applications, Opportunities, and Challenges,", -- and then begin to post questions for our panelists about the use of Artificial Intelligence in Education. On Tuesday, and Wednesday, please also post your questions about Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality.

I will also post some questions today for our panelists.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups

This comment was originally posted by Michael Cruse on October 3rd in the bulletin for this discussion.

A VR Re-entry Program for Incarcerated Women

Michael Cruse October 3, 2019 - 1:31pm 0 Likes

While doing research on civic+digital engagement, I came across a VR application for adult learners that I thought might also interest members curious about this upcoming discussion.  Below is a description of the project that inspired this new VR learning space, and a link to an interview with the graduate student responsible for creating it.  

The U.S. has the world’s highest adult incarceration rate, with over 2.2 million people currently behind bars.  Research suggests that formerly incarcerated women experience heightened anxiety upon reentry and are not prepared for navigating daily encounters.  The Massachusetts Department of Correction partnered with the Engagement Lab at Emerson College in Boston, to use Virtual Reality (VR) technologies to expose inmates to simulated reentry scenarios, prior to their actual release date.

In a VR set up, sensory information is delivered through a head-mounted display that is able to track natural head movements, creating a convincing immersive experience. The Lab partnered with the Massachusetts Department of Correction center, South Middlesex Correctional Center (SMCC) to engage a group of stakeholders prior to the design of the VR curriculum to understand the circumstances and experiences that lead to anxiety during reentry. 

Two core research questions anchored this project:

1.  What are the main points of anxiety among recently released inmates that lead to recidivism?

2. How might a VR experience be designed to alleviate those anxieties?

The objective of this project was to design a pre-release curriculum using VR technology. The design process was participatory from beginning to end, inviting inmates and those recently released to provide substantive input into the direction of the project. You can read more about that process as part of the interview with developer, Melissa Teng.

I look forward to learning about more VR applications for adult learners as part of this discussion.


Mike Cruse

Career Pathways and Disabilities and Equitable Outcomes Moderator

Thanks, David, for copying this post to the new thread.  I'm interested in hearing about panelists' experience with VR and AR application to wrap around services for learners.  My original post highlights an example of using VR to help soon-to-be released women inmates with the transition to post-release reality.  This application of VR as a wrap around support is a novel use of the technology within correctional settings.  More frequent in the news are pieces, like this one, that address how VR is being used to support social awareness and integration of persons on the autism spectrum into  society.  Vocational Rehabilitation, also commonly referred to as 'VR', is a partner to adult education that is also researching VR applications to support individuals with different disabilities.  Virtual Reality for Vocational Rehabilitation (VR4VR) is part of clinical trials designed to assess and train persons with sensory and cognitive disabilities on work-related skills.   VR4VR is a project of the Center for Assistive, Rehabilitation & Robotics Technologies, at the University of South Florida.  

I'm interested in what the panelists here have to say about the potential application of VR/AR/AI in non-academic contexts to support adult learners?  Incarcerated learners and persons with disabilities are already benefitting from these technologies.  Where do you see the technology being applied to help other groups of learners as part of wrap around supports?


Mike Cruse

Career Pathways and Disabilities and Equitable Outcomes Moderator


My son is very high functioning Autistic, but it truly affects his life in so many ways besides intelligence. Many people do not realize, and the school wants to focus on test scores. His scores are high , but his life skills are very compromised. This was interesting information for those that need it.

Mike, and others,

Thanks, Mike, for letting us know about Melissa Teng's VR application for women who are soon to be released from prison, intended to help them through simulated reentry scenarios prior to their actual release, to adjust to the world outside. This sounds like it could be very useful.

Everyone, Mike wrote, "I look forward to learning about more VR applications for adult learners as part of this discussion." Today's a great day to share VR, and AR applications!

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups


This comment was originally posted in the bulletin for this discussion by Kathy Tracey on October 12th

AI or Just Sci-Fi?

Kathy_Tracey October 13, 2019 - 9:10pm 0 Likes

I wanted to share this article from a magazine called Training. Their most recent edition features the article AI or Just Sci-Fi (

The article features how AI can impact training and workforce development.
I'm looking forward to this discussion.

Thanks Kathy for sharing the article "AI or Just Sci-Fi " ( It reminds us of some of the ways that artificial intelligence is growing in business, including in education and training applications.

Our panelists, and others, might want to react to some of these excerpts from the article:

1. A great benefit of AI-assisted training is the facilitation of individualized learning plans, says Elliot Dinkin, president and CEO at Cowden Associates, Inc. “Certainly, one-on-one tutoring is effective for personalized learning, but highly impractical and cost-prohibitive at scale,” he says. “There are solutions that use AI to train and rely upon a process that matches how each individual person learns and then adapts the needs to the experience and skill levels of each learner. This way, the solutions focus only on what people need to learn, and skip what they’ve already mastered. This is beneficial, as it will cut training time and boost knowledge and skill acquisition while also building self-awareness.”

2. AI can help employees themselves, with support from trainers, to find the career paths that are best for them and their organization, says Mike Hendrickson, vice president, Tech and Dev Products for Skillsoft. “Using data to intelligently inform learners where their aptitude and current skill set could be best utilized will help people re-skill, up-skill, or pre-skill new roles and opportunities in their organization,” he says. “I think there is great promise for remedial suggestions and accurate assessment of a learner’s struggles where we can pinpoint learning assets to help bridge the skill gap.”

3. The technology might even help ensure the quality of the learning content being delivered, so each employee is assured of receiving the right program to meet his or her needs. “AI could help make sure objectives are clear, not biased, and are measuring what is supposed to be taught. Kind of a balance and veracity check on the delivery of content to a learner,” says Hendrickson. “But more than that, we could use AI to figure out if the instruction is just to meet objectives, or if the instructor is truly teaching the subject in a way all learners understand.”

4. People need and have a desire for human interaction, and that doesn’t stop with the technology they use daily. Chatbots can grasp the nuances of human-like interactions by learning the user’s actions directly through an active listening interface. This provides a natural and human-like communication that engages the user in deeper, individualized, and personalized conversations. At the same time, chatbots extract data and insights directly from employees that the organization needs to ensure it is addressing the concerns and wants of its workforce.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups

These AI/ITS systems are indeed expensive to build, but they are inexpensive once built.  If it costs $20 million to build a system that serves a million people, that is only $20 per person.The Cognitive Tutor (Mathia) and ALEKS are scaling up in mathematics.  Duolingo is scaling up for foreign vocabulary learning.  There are other examples.  Plus, the cost is going down, as discussed in the third volume of GIFT (, the Generalized Intelligent Framework for Tutoring, with a focus on authoring tools.


This PAL3 system is currently being developed for the Navy by researchers at University of Southern California, University of Memphis, and Arizona State University.  The goal is to recommend courses and make suggestions to consider for the sailor to consider career paths,.  However, the system is only now being developed and tested.  In one test, sailors were given a problem of the day to help maintain their knowledge and skills in electronic circuits.  PAL3 prevented knowledge and skill decay compared to a comparison condition without PAL3. 

Many universities are now interested in using technology to improve student retention and career paths.  One successful system was developed at Georgia State University by Tim Renick; approximately 1000 production rules detect vulnerable students and recommend they visit a counselor.  

Hello Colleagues,

I would like this discussion to be less formal so, if our panelists with doctoral degrees don't mind, I'll now I'll use their first names

Art, you wrote "Many universities are now interested in using technology to improve student retention and career paths.  One successful system was developed at Georgia State University by Tim Renick; approximately 1000 production rules detect vulnerable students and recommend they visit a counselor."

Retention (what some refer in our field to as "persistence") is a big issue for many adult basic skills programs. Art, I wonder if you -- and perhaps your Center for the Study of Adult Literacy colleagues -- have thoughts about the application of AI systems like the one Tim Renick designed for adult basic skills (including ESL/ESOL) programs. For example would this only be feasible in large adult schools or other large programs sponsored primarily by public school systems or community colleges?  What other considerations might you suggest for adult basic skills programs and schools that might consider the use of this kind of system?

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups

I am confident that the approach of Tim Renick would have high value for Adult Basic Skills Programs in which there is a problem with retention/persistence.  Machine learning approaches can be used to identify hundreds of problematic performance/psychological profiles that predict likely drop-out of of an adult; when there is a high match then an instructor, peer or computer agent can communicate with the adult and recommend productive next steps.  I suspect that the adults in many literacy centers have similar problematic performance/psychological profiles so many of the if[STATE]-then[RECOMMENDATION] production rules could be shared nation-wide. Such communication would reinforce the notion that someone is listening to the adult and cares.  It would be important to select the best communicator and channels of communication for the particular adults.  Retention/persistence is increased when a person believes he/she/they are part of a community.  

I agree with Art. There is a lot of promise and opportunity in the use of digitized historical  student data and simple decision rules or advanced AI techniques (predictive analytics), including machine learning, to impact student retention by helping programs, institutions, and instructors identify struggling students early in their education or training. The programs and/or instructors can then use this information to check in with the student, investigate the nature of the challenge, and support students with the appropriate interventions, academic and non-academic, through to graduation. The larger the program the easier it is for struggling students to fall through the cracks and leave a program before finishing with little chance for intervention. These early warning systems, while not perfect (there will be students that are identified who don't need support as well as students who do but will be missed), can be used by programs as an additional tool to support the most vulnerable students students There are a lot of these "early warning" systems currently in place within high schools and higher ed institutions (I have a discussion of early warning systems in my paper). However, they do require that programs have access to historical digitized student data - academic and non-academic. 

Hello Bob,

Thanks so much for joining this discussion, and for your many insights into AI already posted here. Thanks too for your paper on AI that nicely describes the basics for those who are new to AI.

I have a question about what would be required for an early warning system in adult basic skills education, in particular, what historical digitized student data might be needed. As you may know from your research on online and blended learning models in adult basic skills education, there are a wide range of sponsors (LEAs, Community colleges, CBOs, volunteer organizations, Corrections education programs, etc.), numbers of students annually served, and resources available to adult basic skills programs. If a program, adult school, LEA or Community college program were to consider a pilot early warning system, what would they need to have in place for data, minimum numbers of learners annually served, technology and data management capacity?

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Program Management and Integrating Technology groups

Thank you, David, for the opportunity to participate in this week's discussion and for lining up a group of panelists who are leaders and influencers in the world of VR/AR. I come to this work and discussion not as much as a subject matter expert or technologist but more as someone who sees the promise of emerging technologies as a means to solve for significant access and opportunity gaps that have underlying root causes that are structural in nature and include racism, classism, sexism, and ableism. With this as background, I see enormous potential to leverage AI to create learning experiences that are fully customized and personalized to the individual learner. I can see a world not too far into the future where we will be able to access content and opportunities for skill development and application that are constantly being adapted to whom we are as learners and how we most effectively learn. When I think about VR/AR, the opportunities are almost limitless. Think about career development where VR can facilitate career exploration, job shadowing, internships, collaborative project-based learning, or actual career preparation and skill development in a virtual environment where those opportunity may be lacking in a community in the urban core or in rural America in the real world.  Think about language learning where VR could create contextualized immersion experiences tailored to the goals of the learner. Think about employment, for instance, for persons of differing abilities whose visible or invisible disabilities may have prevented them from participating in the physical reality of a workplace but where VR makes it possible to participate in virtual workplaces to perform tasks - through avitars or otherwise - that produce value in the real, physical world. But, let's think not just about use and utilization and broaden our thinking to include creation/design and authoring. I can see enormous opportunities for building the capacity of communities to create their own VR experiences that address issues of relevance or concern in their respective contexts. Irrespective of whether we talk about use/utilization or creation/design, there are a significant number of policy issues that need to get worked through. I think there is emerging consensus that ethics are essential throughout the entire design and development process and that there are significant cultural dimensions and experiences that affect the most ethical course of action taken by designers and developers. Beyond that, there ar policy issues related to safety, security, and privacy that need to get clarified. Those can all be worked out fairly straightforwardly. Issues around equity are the most important and most challenging issues to solve. Not only should we consider equity as a design principle, we ought to think of an equity policy framework so that issues of access and costs get addressed in ways that facilitate free or low-cost access to VR/AR learning opportunities for individuals and communities who always tend be overlooked and/or - intentionally or unintentionally - underresourced. We need a "gateway" mind set to avoid a "gatekeeper" practice and market. Engaging communities in co-design, therefore, is essential.  



Thanks Johan for joining this panel discussion which was inspired some time ago by a brief discussion with you on the promise of AI and VR in adult basic skills education. You have raised several important issues in your comment:

I would be interested in hearing from you, and other panelists, about what solutions to "the promise of emerging technologies as a means to solve for significant access and opportunity gaps that have underlying root causes that are structural in nature and include racism, classism, sexism, and ableism" might look like. Some solutions, for example for ableism, may exist now, but have you seen solutions for the other structural root causes, and can you give us some examples? I want to better understand how personaliization, for example, might address some of these problems.

You wrote, "Think about career development where VR can facilitate career exploration, job shadowing, internships, collaborative project-based learning, or actual career preparation and skill development in a virtual environment where those opportunit[ies] may be lacking in a community in the urban core or in rural America in the real world." This too is very intriguing. Can you, other panelists, or discussion members add examples of how technology, especially AI-based technology, might enable solutions to career development?

You wrote, "Think about language learning where VR could create contextualized immersion experiences tailored to the goals of the learner."  and "Think about employment, for instance, for persons of differing abilities whose visible or invisible disabilities may have prevented them from participating in the physical reality of a workplace but where VR makes it possible to participate in virtual workplaces to perform tasks - through avitars or otherwise - that produce value in the real, physical world."  On Wednesday, when we focus on Virtual Reality, please flesh these out for us. 

You also wrote, "I think there is emerging consensus that ethics are essential throughout the entire design and development process and that there are significant cultural dimensions and experiences that affect the most ethical course of action taken by designers and developers. Beyond that, there ar policy issues related to safety, security, and privacy that need to get clarified. Those can all be worked out fairly straightforwardly. Issues around equity are the most important and most challenging issues to solve. Not only should we consider equity as a design principle, we ought to think of an equity policy framework so that issues of access and costs get addressed in ways that facilitate free or low-cost access to VR/AR learning opportunities for individuals and communities who always tend be overlooked and/or - intentionally or unintentionally - underresourced. We need a "gateway" mind set to avoid a "gatekeeper" practice and market. Engaging communities in co-design, therefore, is essential." These are big and important considerations for the use of these technologies. I hope on Friday you can share more about how they can be addressed in our field. Perhaps some of our colleagues who are members of the National Coalition for Literacy's Public Policy Committee, and some of our Program Management group colleagues here will be particularly interested in the pubic policy aspects of this discussion.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups


My expertise is primarily ITS ((intelligent tutoring systems) rather than VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality), but I have been tracking VR and AR systems during the last few years that show learning gains and incorporate systematic pedagogical principles.  These are some areas of success:

1. Medical education, including physiology  See research by S. Lajoie at McGill U.  

2. Foreign language learning in virtual contexts.  Johnson, W. L. & Valente, A. (2009). Tactical Language and Culture Training Systems: Using AI to teach foreign languages and cultures. AI Magazine, 30, 72-83.

3. Operating equipment and devices.

Johnson, W.L. & Lester, J.C. (2016). Twenty years of face-to-face interaction with pedagogical agents. International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education.

4. Classroom teaching with student characteristics shown above the student when the instructor wears special glasses.  

Holstein, K., McLaren, B. M., & Aleven, V.  (2018). Student learning benefits of a mixed-reality teacher awareness tool in AI-enhanced classrooms. In Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Education (AIED 2018). LNAI 10947 (pp. 154-168). Springer: Berlin.  

The most successful systems make visible what people would not see otherwise.  Feedback and control are also important.  

The US military military spends a large amount of money on VR and AR, but few of these systems are systematically tested on learning gains (rather surprisingly).  The annual I/ITSEC conference in Orlando has exhibitions of these systems.  


David, thank you for encouraging my peer panelists and myself to respond to the questions you raised in your reply from October 14, 2019 at 2:46 p.m. I will respond in the order your raised questions or made comments.

Emerging Technologies As a means To Close Opportunity Gaps 

The fiscal inequities - inequities in resource allocations - are a reality in all segments and levels of our education system. The Civil Rights Data Collection has shown how inadequacies and inequities in resource allocations prevent some schools from providing high-quality access to in-school and after-school learning opportunities, particularly in the STE(A)M fields and what I would call other "gateway" opportunities. Schools often lack the facilities, equipment, supplies, and teachers to facilitate these opportunities. The result is often that there are no options beyond basic math. Creating access points - preferably at low or no cost - to emerging technologies at schools, libraries, and other public venues can be one way to begin to address these inequities. There are various ways this can be done. Community maker spaces are one way. Making virtual learning experiences available to the community is another way. This way, children, youth, and adults through educational games and simulations and VR-based applied learning opportunities can access content, expertise, and applied learning and assessment opportunities in a way that the traditional approach to education cannot deliver. A recent example is career preparation for dialysis workers.

AI and Career Development

AI can assist greatly in career development applications that assess not just the interests but the actual skills/talents of youth and adults. Combining these data with multi-media, multi-format data on jobs and job/career activities facilitates matching of talents and career opportunities and makes virtual job exploration and shadowing and even virtual work-based learning and assessments possible. YouScience is probably the current application that is closest to what I am talking about.  

Revolutionizing and Rethinking Learning and Working through Virtual Reality 

One of the most impactful aspects of virtual reality (VR) for education is the depth of understanding of the material that can be demonstrated by a learner and how the experience of its real-life application cements that learning. Learning theorist Edgar Dale suggested that people tend to remember 10% of what they read, 20% of what they hear, and 90% of what they do. Despite the inherent learning advantages of VR/AR, we have not seen widespread implementation of this technology in education. In fact, only 23% of schools have even tested VR/AR applications. Only about 10% of schools are using VR/AR, despite 97% of students and schools say they want it.

In addition to learning retention, VR opens doors to environments and experiences that traditionally marginalized groups and school districts are not be able to access. The game-changing element of VR for education is the ability to help learners more concretely visualize concepts and opportunities, an innovation that amazes new and veteran users alike and contains the seeds for seemingly endless solutions. Learners are immersed and impressed as they take an active and central role in the visual learning environment. The wow factor of being immersed in a visual sensory experience makes students excited to learn and create. Combine that with VR’s potential to boost learning retention rates and you have more effective skill-building tool and a new classroom setting that inspires young people to learn.

VR can also mitigate language barriers that exist with classroom instruction that is presented only once and in one language. VR simulation can deliver lessons in the native language of the learner. This increases the capacity of English language learners (ELL) or multi-lingual students to understand content and context. Almost one in four children in the U.S. speaks a language other than English at home, according to an analysis of national data compiled by the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Kids Count Data Center. The percentage of students who speak one language at home and another at school varies from state to state, ranging from a low of two percent in West Virginia to a high of 44 percent in California; however, while the number of ELL and bilingual students is rising, a 2017 study from The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that schools often fail to provide adequate instruction and support for this population of students. 

There are various ways to integrate VR/AR into education.  The following are transformative ways to enhance the learning experience with VR/AR:

  • Content Creation: Currently, virtual reality courses are most often created for science and history classes, but VR/AR can be applied to any subject and theme.
  • Training & Skills Development: Students can explore career pathways through VR/AR from both a-day-in-a-life and skill-building simulations in a variety of industries.
  • Virtual Fields Trips: While this may not sound as fun as going on a traditional field trip, virtual field trips can allow learners to visit remote or potentially unsafe or impossible-to-reach locations for a fraction of the cost of travel in the real world.
  • Special Education: Some students with disabilities can use the VR/AR to learn in many of the same way as non-disabled students. This can help better integrate students with disabilities into learning environments.
  • Distance Learning: VR/AR learning is convenient and more accessible for lower-income communities that rely on public transportation or live in a rural area. VR/AR experiences can provide the sense of presence. VR/AR experiences can replace or enhance traditional schools, but only as soon as VR/AR becomes affordable and integrated in communities.
  • Design: VR/AR can aid design and modeling to achieve results beyond the capabilities of real-world tools, technology, and processes.
  • Gamification: VR/AR brings gamification into the learning process, providing immediate reward systems proven to positively impact student performance and assessment of skill.

Many communities including, schools, adult learning centers, and libraries, strive to create free, accessible, and technology-rich environments, and they want to add VR/AR options. In our country’s most under-resourced communities, however, technology labs are only able to provide access to computers or tablets, and many schools continue to struggle with access to basic infrastructure and adequate supplies. Thus, the biggest challenge in realizing the potential of VR/AR is an equity challenge. It is essential that we address the access equity challenge to bring VR/AR into education environments in under-resourced communities because we do not want to exacerbate the digital divide in education, which we know has enduring consequences. For young people and adults in under-resourced communities, inadequate access to technology not only can hinder but actually constrains learning skills development deemed crucial to success in today’s economy. Consider the statistics:

  • Only 49% of African Americans and 51% of Latinx populations have high-speed internet at home, as compared with 66% of White counterparts. Internet speed has important effects on media access, especially when it comes to streaming video.

  • In a Pew survey of educators, teachers of low-income students tended to report more obstacles to using educational technology effectively than their peers in more affluent schools.

  • 70% of schools are moving to digital textbooks, yet 43% of schools cannot customize individual students’ network access.

  • Among teachers in the highest-income areas, 70% said their school gave them good support for incorporating technology into their teaching. Among teachers in the lowest-income areas, that numbers drops to 50%.

  • 56% of teachers in low-income schools report that students’ inadequate access to technology is a major challenge for using technology as a teaching aid.
  • 54% percent of all teachers said their students had adequate internet access at school, but only 18% said their students had adequate access at home.
  • Urban teachers are more likely to say students have poor access to the internet at school, while rural teachers are more likely to report that students have poor access at home.
  • Low population density in rural areas can have a direct effect on the economy and education. VR can connect these isolated communities to cutting-edge learning experiences and business opportunities.


During the last 25 years I have been developing intelligent tutoring systems (ITS) with conversational agents.  These agent-based ITS help people learn by holding a one-on-one conversation with students.  I am uploading a 2018 Handbook chapter that I wrote to give a glimpse of this line of research.

Graesser, A.C., Hu, X., & Sottilare, R. (2018).  Intelligent tutoring systems.  In F. Fischer, C. E. Hmelo-Silver, S. R. Goldman, and P. Reimann (Eds.), International handbook of the learning sciences (pp. 246-255).  New York: Routledge. 

One system that my team developed is AutoTutor for struggling adult readers.  The goal is to teach them comprehension skills (over 30 modules on different strategies).  Take a look at and try out AutoTutor.

Other systems we have recently developed are ElectronixTutor and PAL3 (Personal Assistant for Lifelong Learning) for the Navy.  I have served as past president for the Artificial Intelligence in Education (an international society) and also with the Army on the Generalized Intelligent Framework for Tutoring (GIFT,,


I enjoyed this paper that synthesizes many of the issues associated with AI and Education.  There are two points that are worthwhile to comment on with respect to limitations of humans.  

First, human instructors are not perfect and fall prey to many imperfections: errors in grading essays (using quick shallow heuristics rather than deep comprehension of the papers), bias, narrow intelligence, pathology of expertise (i.e., automating a skill to the point they cannot imagine the mindset of a student), and so on.  AI imperfections need to be routinely compared to human imperfections in all assessments.  An instructor who grades 200 essay in a class does not read each essay deeply and are known to apply problematic heuristics that a machine could improve on.  Most automated essay graders send essays to instructors when the automated systems have low confidence.  The hybrid between a machine and a human is a sensible approach.

It is widely known that humans are guided by domain specific knowledge/skills (that has limited transfer to new situations) rather than generic problem solving and reasoning strategies.  Perhaps 90% of the human thinking is a collection of narrow domain-specific modules.  When there are AI/Intelligent Tutoring Systems for thousands of narrow topics, then perhaps the intelligence will look more human-like.  

Art, this is a great point and something everyone must keep in mind when assessing the value and possible consequences of the use of an AI solution versus the status quo  - AI imperfections need to be routinely compared to human imperfections in all assessments. 

While problems of algorithmic bias related to some machine learning applications has received extensive coverage in the media, we must remember that humans - including instructors and teachers - are also not perfect, bring their own set of biases to decision making, and make mistakes and errors of omission, particularly when fatigued and under pressure. As I have mentioned in a prior post (and emphasize in my paper), the role of AI solutions in education and learning should be to augment instructor capacity and help instructors and programs address key challenges in the classroom like providing timely and actionable feedback on student work when the alternative may be shallow feedback provided by the instructor alone or no feedback at all. 


Thanks to all for contributing!  A curiosity question here.  I think comparing AI deficiencies to human deficiencies is essential.  I think AI has tremendous potential to increase the speed of feedback learners get and also to reward learner initiative and facilitate access to content that is often effectively gated by the teacher's schedule.  One area that may or may not be a relative weakness for AI vs. teachers is in developing metacognitive skills.  We think of AI as very directive by default.  Whereas teachers care about the learner with unique goals that require meta-level skills and not just as a receiver of this specific content at hand.  However, couldn't an AI be written that would, instead of being directive, engage a learner in reflection about their own practices.  For example, the AI could provides, instead of a prescription for a learner's next step, a menu of choices and make transparent its logic for why a learner might engage with those options.  It seems like this weakness of AI could actually be a strength.  I'm interested in examples of ways that our experts have seen AI crafted to encourage reflection and metacognitive skills  in the user rather than just be directive.


This is in response to Robert Murphy's claim that there is a lack of Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITS) for flexible higher order cognition.  There are a number of ITS that attempt to tackle such complex cognition.  They include construction of explanations (e.g., AutoTutor, iSTART), writing trainers (W-Pal), science inquiry and reasoning (Inq-ITS, Operation ARIES), metacognition (MetaTutor), self-regulated learning strategies, the list goes on.  The best research is covered in two societies with affiliated journals and conference proceedings: International Society for Artificial Intelligence in Education and Educational Data Mining.  



Thanks Art for pointing out that there are some ITS systems that have been shown to improve higher order cognitive skills like the ones you mention - inquiry, meta cognition, self-regulation. However the majority of the ITS systems adopted in K-12 at some scale (the focus of my paper) that I am familiar with have not focused on these skills but instead have focused more on the acquisition of content knowledge and procedural skills. 

For others, I've included below the relevant quote from my paper...

...., ITSs are best suited to support the learning of aspects of the content that are appropriate for rule-based approaches, including facts, methods, operations, algorithms, and procedural skills. However, the systems are less able to support the learning of complex, difficult-to-assess, higher-order skills—such as critical thinking, effective communication, explanation, argumentation, collaboration, self-management, social awareness, and professional ethics—that are increasingly emphasized in state education standards and valued by employers.



Hello panelists and members of the LINCS Integrating Technology and Program Management Community.

Now that this discussion is under way I want to encourage you to ask our panelists questions, particularly today (Monday) and Tuesday, about education applications of Artificial Intelligence.

I would like to get the ball rolling with these three questions (more to come!):

1.     In the introduction to “Perspective Artificial Intelligence Applications to Support K-12 Teachers and Teaching A Review of Promising Applications, Opportunities, and Challenges,” Robert Murphy wrote, “The increasing availability of large digital data sets, refined statistical techniques, and advances in machine-learning algorithms and data processing hardware, coupled with large sustained corporate investments, have led to dramatic gains in speech, image, and object recognition.” Dr. Murphy, and other panelists, can you give us some examples in teaching and learning?

2.     What do  AI researchers and practitioners here see as the most interesting and relevant education applications of intelligent virtual assistants (e.g., Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, and others)?

3.     What do you see as some of the most interesting and relevant education applications of text-to-text language translation, and speech-to-text applications?

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups

There is a growing paradigm of testing AI systems by having them take tests, including extracting information from text and visual image recognition/interpretation.  Stuart Elliott conducted a study that had 11 AI experts analyze items in psychometric tests created by OECD for international assessments of literacy, numeracy, and problem solving (PIAAC). The experts were categorized as pessimists, optimists, and intermediate realists.  

Elliot, S. (2017). Computers and the future of skill demand. Paris, FR: OECD.




Hello colleagues,

This study that Art Graesser recommended is described below. What are your reactions to the findings and their possible implications for the future workforce?

Computers and the Future of Skill Demand

Centre for Educational Research and Innovation

Computer scientists are working on reproducing all human skills using artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics. Unsurprisingly then, many people worry that these advances will dramatically change work skills in the years ahead and perhaps leave many workers unemployable.

This report develops a new approach to understanding these computer capabilities by using a test based on the OECD’s Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) to compare computers with human workers. The test assesses three skills that are widely used at work and are an important focus of education: literacy, numeracy and problem solving with computers.

Most workers in OECD countries use the three skills every day. However, computers are close to reproducing these skills at the proficiency level of most adults in the workforce. Only 13% of workers now use these skills on a daily basis with a proficiency that is clearly higher than computers.

The findings raise troubling questions about whether most workers will be able to acquire the skills they need as these new computer capabilities are increasingly used over the next few decades. To answer those questions, the report’s approach could be extended across the full range of work skills. We need to know how computers and people compare across all skills to develop successful policies for work and education for the future.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups

David and all - Thanks for your work on this issue! 

The OECD report and the recently publish work by Aspen Institute Automation and a Changing Economy: The Case for Action add nuance to Dr. Uvin’s comments about equity made earlier in the thread. The first jobs replaced in a "Future of Work Economy" are those characterized by routine and manual tasks - yet many of these jobs now require digital problem solving in work tasks. For example, hotel hospitality staff who use tablets and task apps to guide their work day (which may be assigned through an automated system(!). The pressure to make use of new technologies at work (someone needs to oversee those automated vacuums sweeping up in office buildings) will increasingly put pressure on our ABE system to offer not only opportunities to use new technologies to support learning but also educational opportunities to prepare them to encounter them in the workplace. The Aspen Institute published a paper on policies that could mitigate these transitions in the workplace the paper Policies for Shared Prosperity.  One of the recommendations is for worker access to lifelong learning to help them continuously adjust. The point I'm getting to is the equity issue regarding use of these new technologies is as much about who gets to use them in learning but the structures and shape of the programming in which they are used. Are we situated in ABE to view and support learning as a "lifelong learning" endeavor?

Many of us are impressed with Google's text-to-text and speech-to-text systems and frequently use them. The language translation systems improve from year to year.  The syntax and higher level discourse levels are not as impressive as the word translation, but the systems are good enough for a person to reconstruct the meaning of the translated messages in their language,  The speech to text recognition systems are so good that they are sometimes directly integrated as a service with advanced learning environments.  We are exploring the integration of Google's speech recognition system into our AutoTutor for struggling adult readers who typically have challenges in writing. 

Hello colleagues,

I want to recommend this short, easy-to-read, July 12th Forbes Magazine article on AI that describes:

AI-Enabled Hyperpersonalization, AI systems being used to tailor and personalize learning for each individual student

Adoption of voice assistants “Voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple Siri, and Microsoft Cortana are giving students a chance to interact with educational material without the interaction of the teacher.”

Assisting educators with organizational tasks such as: essay evaluation, grading of exams, and  filing  some kinds of paperwork. “Education administrators are also reaping the benefits of AI with administrative tasks by using intelligent assistants to help with a range of administrative needs including budgeting, student applications and enrollment, course management, educator HR related issues, purchasing and procurement activities, expense management, and facilities management.”

Let's hear comments and questions on this from group members as well as from panelists.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups

Hello AI panelists,

Here are three more questions:

4. Bob Murphy, In your paper, you list “three core challenges of teaching: (1) providing differentiated instruction and feedback in mixed-ability classrooms, (2) providing students with timely feedback on their writing products, or (3) identifying students who may be struggling to learn and make progress toward graduation.” Bob, and others with AI experience, can you describe some examples of each of these that might be of interest to those working in adult basic skills education?

5. Bob Murphy has described “two broad categories of narrow AI” that have been applied in education, “The first category encompasses rule-based applications used to power adaptive instructional software systems. The second encompasses applications that use machine-based learning, such as those used in the automated scoring of student essays.”  Bob, can you and our other AI panelists describe some examples of adaptive instructional software systems, particularly those that might be designed for adult basic skills teaching and learning?

6. Intelligent tutoring systems (ITS) are an application of AI that may be of particular interest to adult basic skills educators. In particular, many teachers will be interested in the potential of these ITS’s to address the multi-level classroom needs that are common in our field in English language learning, numeracy and mathematics, reading and in other areas. Those who are interested in mastery learning will also be interested in the potential use of ITS.  Can our AI panelists describe examples of these? For example, Art Graesser, can you tell us more about Auto Tutor?

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups


AutoTutor is a system that helps people learn by holding a conversation in natural language.  It has been used in the Center for the Study of Adult Literacy ( that is used in conjunction with human instructors in literacy centers.  AutoTutor for CSAL can be accessed at  There are other versions of AutoTutor (see that have been developed for computer literacy, physics, electronics, biology, scientific reasoning, research ethics, and so on.  The following publications summarize AutoTutor.

Graesser, A.C. (2016). Conversations with AutoTutor help students learn.  International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education, 26, 124-132.                                 

Graesser, A.C., Forsyth, C., & Lehman, B. (2017). Two heads are better than one: Learning from agents in conversational trialogues.  Teacher College Record, 119, 1-20. .

Graesser, A.C., Greenberg, D., Olney, A.M., & Lovett, M.W. (2019).  Educational technologies that support reading comprehension for adults who have low literacy skills. In D. Perin (Ed). Wiley adult literacy handbook .  New York: Wiley.







Hi everyone! My name is Susan Gaer. I have used both "augmented reality" and "virtual reality" with my ESL students.You can read an article I wrote about this at . My ESL students really enjoyed these lessons because it created more interactivity with lesson content. It can be confusing to teachers about the difference  between augmented and virtual reality. This is how I understand it.  QR codes are augmented reality. 360 images with Google Cardboard is Virtual Reality. My lessons incorporate both and can be found at the google sites website. I also have a website filled with resources, lessons and ideas for 360 photos (virtual reality) at

Hello Colleagues,

I would like to welcome ESL Professor Emeritus Susan Gaer to our discussion. In preparation for our discussion of VR beginning on Wednesday, I encourage you, especially if you are an ESL/ESOL teacher, to look at her website that has resources, lessons and ideas for 360 photos (virtual reality) at .

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups

Susan Thank you for the the link to both your article and your site with the great ideas for ESL classes.  They will be a great help at my next staff meeting, there are a few of my fellow teachers who are not very enthusiastic about any kind of technology, (OK, all of them except one who is young and a digital native) we just got chrome books for the students to use this year, prior to this year we have not had any technology other than the devices our students brought.  My peers will really like your Mount Rushmore lesson plan, if I walk them through first with all the components ready to go.  I think one of the biggest hurdles to adopting any new tool (besides cost) will be how user friendly it is. Can my beginning English language learner use it?  Can a nearly retired non digital trained teacher use it?  Are there ready to go materials that will easily fit into their lessons without requiring a lot of extra work or time?  Your article and site show the practical side that will start to win over the other teachers, at least until they ask for Google cardboard for the students and get told no we just bought Chrome books.  


Hello Colleagues,

Our discussion continues today with a focus on Virtual Reality. We can still discuss Artificial Intelligence, and I have a question for Cliff Archey below about AI that I meant to post yesterday, but we have some new questions today on VR.  I hope we hear more from Susan Gaer and Johan Uvin about VR, and other panelists may also wish to respond. Also, it would be great to have more questions from Integrating Technology and Program Management members who do, or do not, have experience with using VR.

12. Cliff, please tell us about how teachers are using Teacher Advisor With Watson, and also tell us if you think it might be possible, as Brooke Istas suggested, to have a customized section of Teacher Advisor that has content particularly suitable for adult learners.

Some Virtual Reality questions to get us started:

1. Any panelist who wishes to answer this, please tell us your understanding of what "Virtual Reality" means.

2. I have seen Virtual Reality applications that use goggles only, that use a Smartphone and a software cube, and that use a computer and goggles. I am not sure what all the VR hardware variations are, and how they differ in how teachers might use them. Perhaps our panelists could tell us about the ones they are familiar with.

3. What are some good examples of how Virtual Reality is being used in K-12, higher education or adult basic skills education (including adult ESL/ESOL)?

4. How is Virtual Reality being used in the workplace? Can adult basic skills learners expect to find Virtual Reality simulations for their orientations as a new employee or for on-the-job trainings? If so, can you give us some examples of these?

5. I am working with teachers who are part of the Illinois Digital Literacy Lab statewide project, sponsored by The Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition. The teachers have not used Virtual Reality applications before, but have some ideas about how they might be used, especially with ESL students, as a prompt for writing. Susan Gaer, it would be great to hear your advice for them -- as many ways as you can think of that adult ESL teachers could use VR with their students and, in particular, your ideas for using VR experiences as a stimulus for writing.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups




I use both Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. Virtual reality allow the user to interact with a 3 dimensional image. 360 photos are a good example.Augmented reality is where you have either tags on a photo or a Qr code with extra information. My favorite program to do both of these is "Thinglink" ( almost free and lots of add ons. I have worked with ESL students at the very lowest level creating virtual field trips. We made a field trip through each of our countries it was so much fun. I have used augmented reality to deliver audio and video supports in the textbook for my lowest levels students. For those who have more language access, I had them create their own VR tours and their own augmented reality with augmented book reviews and digital resumes.



My favorite developer of VR training systems is Lewis Johnson's who started Alelo corporation ( He develops VR training environments for workforce and military activities.  One distinctive feature of his award winning products are that they have a strong foundation in the science of learning and many of them are tested on learning gains.  


Hello colleagues,

We can continue today to discuss AI and VR, but I also have some questions for our panelists and others in this discussion about Augmented Reality:

1. What is Augmented Reality and how does it differ from Virtual Reality?

2. How is Augmented Reality being used in K-12, higher education or adult basic skills education  (including adult ESL/ESOL)?

3. I understand that there are applications of Augmented Reality that are audio-based, and that tiny virtual assistants may soon be available to place in one's ear, as watches, and perhaps as  attachments for eyeglasses. Can anyone tell us more about these? 

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups

Hello Colleagues,

Today is our last day of discussion with our expert panel on AI, VR and AR. There is still time today to post your comments and questions. At the beginning of next month I will try to summarize the discussion -- a daunting task I might add -- to make it easier to refer to various sections, comments, papers and other resources.

Cliff Archey emailed me yesterday that he may not be able to respond to comments this week because he's suddenly become ill, so stay tuned over the next two weeks, and let's hope he recovers quickly and can respond. All our panelists, of course, are welcome to continue on as Integrating Technology group members as long as they wish, and this discussion can be re-visited and added to by any member any time.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating technology and Program Management groups

Hello Colleagues,

This discussion on AI, VR and AR has now officially come to a close. I want to express deep appreciation to panelists and LINCS members for their thoughtful comments, and for sharing their experiences and resources. I also want to invite our panelists, and all those who may be new here, to remain members of the LINCS Integrating Technology or Program Management groups and, if they wish, to continue to add to this and other discussions here whenever they wish.

There's a lot in this discussion to explore further; as you may know, it will be archived on LINCS so that whenever you want you can find it at                                           

I will soon provide a summary here of this discussion.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups

Hi All!

Excited to be a part of this week-long discussion. I am a former high school educator who has spent the past 6 years working for IBM's Corporate Social Responsibility team on educational initiatives. My time at IBM has coincided with an explosion of Artificial Intelligence all around us as consumers and employees in a rapidly evolving workplace. As an educator at heart, who also works with public high schools across the globe as part of IBM's P-TECH initiative, it's been a growing concern of mine that we are not adequately preparing future generations for a world dominated by AI, especially when it comes to the future workforce. Our work at IBM through P-TECH aims to provide students, especially those who are underrepresented in higher education and in technology, the skills-based education they need to understand Artificial Intelligence, use AI in their professional lives, and make informed choices about their career paths to ensure that their skills are "future ready" for a reality in which nearly 50% of today's jobs may be replaced by AI systems. As a part of our philanthropic work, we also offer Teacher Advisor With Watson to K-8 math teachers as a free lesson planning resource. Teacher Advisor uses IBM Watson AI to provide vetted content recommendations to teachers seeking to improve and differentiate their math instruction. 

AI use cases in education are just now starting to gain steam. But we know that the future world will be one in which a basic knowledge of AI is essential, no matter the field. It's exciting to be on a panel with some great thinkers in the space, and I look forward to both learning and contributing to the discussion! 

It is now widely acknowledged that students learn best when technology is scaffolded by human instructors (including the paper by Robert Murphy). That requires adequate professional development of instructors, which is not currently sufficient in the vast majority of settings.  Without that training, AI, intelligent tutoring systems, VR, AR, and most technologies will not reach their potential.  Attempts to improve the professional development is welcome and necessary for any attempts to scale up the technologies (whether they be simple or advanced).  Many of the funding agencies (government and foundations) are focusing on filling this gap. However, it will take time, hopefully measured in years rather than decades.

Explaining the essence of an AI system is a tall order, and sometimes impossible for machine learning solutions. However, the function and scope of an AI system is possible and worthwhile.  


Hello Cliff, and others,

Welcome to this discussion. I appreciate your taking the time this week, Cliff,  to share some of your insights in introducing AI in K-12 math education with those of us who work with adult basic skills learners.

Of course, we welcome your thoughts on any of the questions posed to panelists, but I am especially intrigued by what you wrote, that "we are not adequately preparing future generations for a world dominated by AI, especially when it comes to the future workforce." In adult basic skills education many of our students are the parents of those future generations, and those adult learners who are working -- now a great majority of them -- may be experiencing the need to understand AI applications they are experiencing in their jobs. I wonder if you have some thoughts about how we might adequately prepare the teachers of these adults as well as the adult learners, for a world dominated by AI.

Integrating Technology and Program Management group members: I wonder if adult basic skills math teachers who might be part of this discussion could take a look at Teacher Advisor With Watson and ask questions or comment about the potential usefulness of this free service in adult basic skills math classes.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups


David, thanks! On the point about having adult basic skills math teachers taking a look at Teacher Advisor, we'd certainly welcome any questions/comments on the IBM side! We've built that tool in partnership with elementary and middle school math teachers and instructional coaches over the past 3 years, but find that when parents of students who are struggling with the new academic standards in math encounter our content and searchability, they really like it and have a better understanding of how math is supposed to be taught in modern classrooms. So, would love to know what the Integrating Technology and Program Management group members think! 

On the point about preparing students to work with AI and other emerging technologies in the future, it cannot be underscored how important the role of teachers and caregivers is to ensuring a greater proportion of the school-aged population is equipped with the knowledge, skills, and understanding they need to prepare for a rapidly evolving workforce. Unfortunately, not enough has been done by the companies building these emerging technologies, continuing education organizations, and professional development organizations to give adults that necessary foundational understanding. An added problem here in the United States is that not nearly enough teachers are provided with technical professional development or teacher preparation coursework that is linked to career development and emerging technology. This creates a skills gap amongst the teaching workforce, and an inability of school districts to offer advanced technical courses because there aren't enough teachers with the required knowledge and skills to teach them. 

There are a number of recent bright-spots in AI education specifically to be encouraged by, however. ISTE partnered with General Motors in 2018 to offer an AI introductory course for educators that is practical and geared toward empowering teachers with the foundational understanding necessary to begin employing AI education into their classrooms. The nonprofit curriculum Exploring Computer Science, which is one of the most widely used foundational computer science curricula in the country, recently partnered with game design and AI company NVIDIA to incorporate an AI unit into their curriculum. Within the past year, the AI4K12 initiative launched out of CSTA to provide targeted ideas and guidance to teachers seeking to incorporate AI into their instruction and curriculum, informed by industry and academic experts. For our part at IBM, we recently launched a pilot platform,, for both teachers and students (and parents and adult learners who want exposure to emerging tech) that will provide industry credentials and online education on emerging technology, including AI. This pilot will launch publicly in early 2020, and will include a new course from ISTE and the MIT Education Arcade on AI Foundations that is meant to help learners of any age gain a foundational understanding of AI. We're also partnering with MindSpark Learning to provide in-person and virtual PD sessions to teachers about AI and how they can incorporate AI instruction into their core classes. 

The bottom line is we are just now as a field seeing a more targeted focus on educating adults on AI and emerging tech so that they can, in turn, have the expertise necessary to educate future generations. More needs to be done, but it's a good start, and a recognition that teachers (and all adults in the role of preparing young learners for success down the line) are an essential part of the process to ensure young learners have the skills necessary for future success. 

Cliff, Peer Panelists, and Colleagues,

I wanted to talk a little bit about the potential of Teacher Advisor and IBM's aspiration of creating a Learner Advisor, if that still stands. I had worked with Stan Litow and former colleagues at US ED on Teacher Advisor and in my new role at IEL I helped spread the work to the 30,000 members of our 20 networks.

When I reflect on capacity issues in adult education, then we need to acknowledge that - with the exception of adult schools in California and adult charter schools - most adult learning programs have no adequate resources or capacity to actually meet the demand and ensure a high-quality, effective learning experience. In addition, teacher effectiveness varies greatly. These two facts in conjunction with significant turnover have created a challenge for the field. In order to solve for this multi-layered challenge, an appropriations strategy to expand the current system would require a huge increase in investments to the point that what would be needed to expand the face-to-face system would be politically difficult if not prohibitive. So, until that time, other solutions are needed that address both the quality and consistency of instruction/learning experiences and the quality of teaching. Those solutions need to be able to be implemented at scale.

This is where I can see great potential for an Adult Education Teacher Advisor. If states - with some support from the federal government and industry - were to pool some of their resources, they could actually make this happen. This would go a long way towards teachers feeling supported and learners having access to research-based proven learning experiences.

Given that the content of adult education can be defined quite precisely, a similar effort to create an Adult Learner Advisor would produce enormous returns and help solve for the access and unmet demand issues.



Teacher Advisor indeed would be an incredible addition, supporting the work of adult basic ed programs. I’d like to share another initiative working to organize and deliver OER in standards-aligned learning plans.  SkillBlox is a planned resource from the new non-profit CrowdEd Learning. Like Teacher Advisor it points to curated digital resources; it will also offer a free, public facing platform accessible to learners - whether they are enrolled in an ABE program or not. I’m excited about the potential of SkillBlox to help learners who either cannot or do not participate in formal learning opportunities.

Hello all,

I like that this website is like a repository of videos, lessons, and standards - it is geared primarily for K-12.  The uniqueness of adult learning is that while the content and some of the standards are similar the instructional strategies used to teach adults are different because of the experiences that adults bring to our classrooms.  I think it would be great if IBM would consider added a drop-down for adult education and then curate items that fit adult learners.  This would be a great addition to other open-source repositories like OER Commons, who a few years ago added an adult education button to help practitioners find lessons that were not child-like.  There appear to be some great discovery math lessons on the Teacher Advisor site, too.  It would be great to have a way to identify those, too.

These are a few of my initial thoughts...



Hi Brooke, 

Apologies for the late reply here, but really appreciate your comments. We share the opinion that no matter the age, math should be taught in consistent, cognitively appropriate ways, and this is reflected in the new math standards that have been adopted by 46/50 states over the last decade, and that are reflected in Teacher Advisor. The specific instructional standards and standards for mathematical practice embedded in to the lessons we host on Teacher Advisor are strong base lines to gauge adult math proficiency as well. However, we haven't considered previously the option of added content to our repository that uses more relevant, age-appropriate, real world examples that would be more useful and engaging to an adult audience. As we are not a content provider, but rather a content repository that uses AI for curation and search, it would be great to know of quality, trusted resources that fit the criteria you described. Should there be a significant corpus, we'd certainly be interested in pursuing a drop-down so that adult learners and their instructors could access learning content more relevant to them. 

Thank you for the suggestion, and please let me know if there are places to curate for quality adult-aged lesson plans in math. 

Hi David,

Based on my observation, the development and adoption at-scale of advanced statistical algorithmic AI-based solutions in education, and specifically solutions to support teaching and learning, is in its infancy. Applications that are being used at some scale include English-language learning applications in China (e.g., Liulishuo English) – primarily in the consumer space, outside of formal education settings - and automated essay scoring such as ETS’ e-rater( Another example in the automated writing feedback space is WriteLab (recently acquired by the online student services company Chegg), a product developed at UC Berkeley and designed to be used by high school teachers to provide students with targeted feedback on their writing during the drafting stage. In higher education, Microsoft’s Translator, a speech-to-text translator app, is being used by some universities to provide real-time audio captioning for hearing impaired students in large college lectures. I believe real-time speech-to-text and text-to-text translator technologies have enormous potential for helping teachers integrate non-native speakers into the classroom. At the same time, these students might use AI-based language apps inside and outside of class to increase their native language proficiency. 

In my view, the real limitation to the development of data intensive AI solutions for teaching and learning is the inability of developers to access large amounts of relevant, unbiased, digitized data to train the machine learning algorithms. The creation of the training digitized datasets can be a very expensive proposition. This is why I believe some of the more promising work may come initially from developers with access to instructional and learning data from existing online apps and learning platforms. This digitized data along with advanced AI statistical techniques may be used to improve the quality and adapativeness of their existing applications.