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IBM Takes AI to School

The IBM foundation is working with elementary teachers to bring artificial intelligence into the classroom.

In an announcement on eSchool News, the foundation said that its Teacher Advisor with Watson 1.0 is now available to be used by teachers. The software is powered by IBM’s Watson AI technology, similar to the tech used to beat a human competitor in the game show Jeopardy in 2011.

Teachers say that Watson helps them make better and more informed decisions on the best ways to reach their students with lessons and dozens of other teaching techniques. Teacher Advisor with Watson helps kindergarten through fifth grade classrooms :

  • Access quality math resources designed to meet diverse classroom needs

  • Understand the academic prerequisites and standards mapped to each lesson

  • Apply teaching techniques to help bring lessons to life

  • Type in math concepts and get targeted recommendations

It doesn’t matter the skill or grade level of their students. Watson instantly adjusts.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said that the technology is meant to enhance teacher skills. “Teachers shoulder endless challenges and responsibilities—mastering content, standards and curriculum, and meeting the diverse needs and abilities of each of their students,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “Too often, teachers are expected to do all this single-handedly, but Teacher Advisor could help change that. The AFT worked hand-in-glove with the IBM Foundation to hone this tool and see how it empowers teachers and benefits students. This effective public-private partnership is a testament to what can be achieved when educators are entrusted with innovative technology to support powerful learning.”

With more regulations, more lessons, more paperwork, and, often, less time, teachers are often crunched for time to provide a quality education experience. Some teachers say this will give them more time for just that.

“Time is of the essence for teachers,” said Sheena Lee, an elementary school teacher at Umana Academy in Boston. “With a classroom full of third through fifth graders who have had inconsistent education in their lives, I need to help my students learn math in different ways, at different levels. Teacher Advisor With Watson offers a one-stop shop for the most trusted resources, enabling me to decide how best to meet my students where they are.”

The technology was trained by experts in math and honed by feedback from over 1,000 teachers. It was also the result of a collaboration between educators and IBM. IBM’s staff worked with the American Federation of Teachers, education leaders, and math teachers to develop this free online resource.

“This innovative tool, built together with teachers, was a true team effort,” said Stanley S. Litow, President Emeritus of the IBM Foundation and a former deputy chancellor of the New York City Public Schools. “We collaborated with the American Federation of Teachers and education leaders to create a free unique resource to help teachers hone their skills and get coaching assistance–all with the goal of helping to educate America’s young learners more effectively. Through Teacher Advisor, IBM continues its commitment to innovation and STEM education.”

IBM representatives say they hope to continue this relationship with teachers.

“Many educators must meet the demands of teaching with little support,” said Jennifer Ryan Crozier, President of the IBM Foundation and VP of Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs. “Teacher Advisor will save teachers time, continually deepen their expertise, and help them meet their diverse student needs. We’re excited to collaborate with education leaders and teachers to help them do what they do best–unlock a child’s passion for STEM learning.”

Teacher Advisor is hosted on the IBM Cloud.



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