AI in Education: Boon or Burden?

AI in Education: Boon or Burden?

Michael Hill

Senior Intelligence Analyst

May 7, 2024

5 min

Domestically and globally, Education Technology - aka EdTech - is surging. Industry estimates currently point to a global market that is growing at a rate of 18% and will surpass $133 billion by 2026. Further, given the size of the US education sector, North America accounts for 37% of the global EdTech market.

AI adoption is contributing significantly to this upward trajectory—to the tune of more than $20 billion by 2028, according to some estimates, even as many in the education profession continue to eye it warily. Generative AI, in particular, has led to concerns over academic integrity, accuracy and bias. Well-publicized instances of AI hallucinations have only added fuel to the fire.

Still, not all educators are anti-AI. Many are working to carve out a place for the technology, especially as it continues to gain ground in academia and numerous other industries. According to proponents, such widespread adoption is another reason to prepare students for the AI-influenced world that awaits them beyond the classroom.

Edtech/AI Market Drivers

Before we discuss how AI is being used and taught in academic settings, let’s examine some of the key drivers of EdTech adoption, particularly those spurring the adoption of AI and related technologies.

EdTech market drivers

Teacher Shortages  

In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, teacher shortages have seen a sharp increase. Last year alone, teacher vacancies reached 51% as the number of open positions in the US rose from 36,504 in 2022 to 55,289 in 2023, according to researchers at Kansas State University and the University of Pittsburgh, among others. Low pay, long hours and a lack of perceived support are just a few reasons for the vacancies plaguing school districts across the country.

For instance, Danny King, CEO and co-founder of digital credentialing startup Accredible, believes that AI can help bridge the gap. In a recent interview with CNBC, King said that by having students engage with materials using AI-powered methods, teachers can spend more time engaging meaningfully with more students – in multiple classrooms, even – and less time on rote tasks like writing vocabulary words on a whiteboard or having students copy passages from textbooks.

Rise of Consumer-focused GenAI tools

Ever since OpenAI launched an AI-powered chatbot dubbed ChatGPT in November 2022, generative AI, or the use of large language models (LLMs) that can process data sourced from the Internet and produce “new” content in the form of text, imagery, audio and synthetic data, has been all the rage. In fact, it wasn’t long after ChatGPT appeared on the scene that a host of other GenAI tools quickly cropped up. These include Google’s Bard (now Gemini), Microsoft’s CoPilot and Anthropic’s Claude.

Given the ability of such chatbots to crank out reams of content with only a prompt or two, there was, naturally, plenty of initial resistance from the education community, where the technology gave rise to fears –in some instances, warranted – that students would use these easily accessible tools to write papers, complete math assignments and even take tests. That said, many have since come to terms with the fact that ChatGPT and its ilk are not going away anytime soon and have thus begun to use AI alongside their students and teach them how to ask these tools effective questions.


The proliferation of gamification across the education sector has given educators new tools in the fight to keep students engaged in an increasingly digital learning landscape. Gamification refers to the use of game-like elements injected into lessons or activities, such as when learners are put into groups to compete with one another or offered rewards for correct answers. Online courses, for example, use gamification to keep students focused and motivated.

By introducing gamification elements into the classroom, educators can engage students by meeting them where they are. Further, many gamified learning tools integrate AI into their offerings to enable real-time feedback and adaptive learning. By automatically analyzing performance, such solutions can identify strengths and weaknesses and adjust learning pathways accordingly.

Learning Analytics

As technology continues to permeate the classroom, the volume of data is growing rapidly. When examined through the lens of learning analytics, such data can help track the progress of learners within a particular learning ecosystem and identify areas of struggle and educational opportunities. Further, advanced analytics solutions can provide a view into the broader learning environment and reveal insights that can be leveraged to improve learning outcomes across the board.

Learning analytics currently encompasses:

  1. Diagnostic analytics, which gets at the causes of certain learning outcomes
  2. Predictive analytics, which uses algorithms to parse historical data, identify trends and predict future scenarios
  3. Prescriptive analytics, which leverages machine learning to generate recommendations for a large population of learners and individuals, enables targeted interventions.

Edtech/AI Trends

Between addressing systemic challenges, embracing new ideas and partnering with emerging technologies, the education sector has arrived at a watershed moment. The following trends highlight an industry amid transformation and offer a glimpse of where it may be headed.

EdTech trends

AI for Personalized Learning  

Given the widespread recognition of individual learning styles and differently gauged outcomes, many are looking to the promise of AI to deliver on the potential for genuinely effective personalized learning. Whether through adaptive learning or more efficient task management that enables educators to spend more time with their students, this exciting new technology paradigm seems poised to significantly influence the teaching profession and empower students through equitable educational experiences.

On the adaptive learning side, AI can be used—in the context of learning platforms—to deliver personalized instruction by presenting content that resonates with individual preferences, delivering continuous assessment and feedback to learners, and providing data-driven insights for educators. AI-driven personalized learning also has the potential to generate content that is aligned with students’ individual skill levels and make lessons more accessible for multilingual learners and students with disabilities.

Immersive Learning  

Leveraging AR and VR technologies to place learners in specific scenarios, immersive learning extends learning beyond the classroom—without having to leave it. Powered by AI and enabled via an AR/VR device, such as a headset, educational virtualizations promote critical thinking by providing students with safe, virtual environments where they can engage in the next-best-thing-to-hands-on learning, no matter the academic setting (K12, higher education, vocational school, professional development, etc.)

Whether using it to comprehend the workings of a complex piece of equipment or understand molecular structures, immersive learning makes it so students can not only watch and listen to materials but also experience and explore them up close. Further, the use of this experiential technology can extend beyond the sciences to areas like the humanities, where users can study ancient texts or art in virtual environments for an immersive experience.

AI Training Courses for Teachers  

The sudden, explosive popularity of AI chatbots like ChatGPT and Google’s Gemini has spawned much debate in the world of education. Depending on where one stands on the matter, there are significant opportunities and challenges stemming from the emergence of these free, online, LLM-based tools, which many students have turned to for assistance with their schoolwork. In fact, recent surveys have shown that as many as 44% of teenagers plan to use AI for their schoolwork.

To help schools and teachers figure out how best to integrate generative AI in their classrooms, the learning platform provider Khan Academy has joined forces with standardized test provider ETS, and the International Society for Technology in Education to offer a series of courses aimed at helping teachers better understand the technology and learn how it affects both them and their students. The series, dubbed “AI 101 for Teachers,” looks at the issues presently facing K-12 teachers and covers the basics of AI, AI ethics and AI bias, and extends to discussions of computer vision, neural networks and bias.

Administrative Automation

AI can automate time-consuming tasks such as grading, lesson planning and student attendance tracking, freeing up teachers to focus on more strategic aspects of their jobs. It can also help administrative professionals with scheduling, thanks to optimization based on resource availability. Moreover, it can craft tailored outreach messages to parents and students.

Victor Lee, an associate professor at the GSE and faculty lead for the AI + Education initiative at Stanford University’s Stanford Accelerator for Learning, said these use cases represent an opportunity to help educators focus on what they do best. “I’m heartened to see some movement toward creating AI tools that make teachers’ lives better – not to replace them, but to give them the time to do the work that only teachers are able to do,” he recently told the Stanford Report. “I hope to see more on that front.”

EdTech trends


While it’s likely the debate over whether AI represents an opportunity or a setback for the education sector will continue, the different ways the technology is being incorporated into contemporary curriculums would seem to indicate that educators and educational institutions are at least making peace with it. Still, it would be shortsighted to invalidate concerns over the increased likelihood of cheating or the possibility that instructors could find themselves replaced by AI in some cases.

Sarah Guo, founder and managing partner of Conviction, an early-stage venture capital firm focused on AI innovation, largely agrees with that sentiment. However, she cautions against taking too narrow a view. As she recently told CNBC: “the broader context of what [AI] could mean is it’ll dramatically improve the efficacy of education, dramatically reduce cost, make education more equitable, give people global opportunity, and increase productivity and knowledge.”

If you're searching for new and advanced technologies driving EdTech or need help assessing which solutions to consider, our custom research capabilities can assist your team in navigating the changes that technology is bringing to education. Contact us today to learn more.