AI will make teachers more human: a talk with Adam Fairall

Meet Adam Fairall, a passionate educator, innovator and member of the Mindjoy community! Adam spoke at a teacher conference for Reddford House Group, a range of private schools in Gauteng, South Africa, where he highlighted the use of technology in the classroom,  specifically AI.

He discussed both the potential dangers of AI and ML if not used with care, but also the practical ways AI can support teachers.  To show rather than tell, Adam used Mindjoy's lesson planning tool, to collaboratively create a lesson plan in just 2 minutes with participation from the room full of 180+ teachers - epic! We caught up with him to find out more👇

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Page from Mindjoy: Tell us more about your talk - what did you want the educators to walk away with?

Adam:  My intention was to give the educators a cautionary tale of the dangers of using AI without care,  but then also demonstrate the radical and practical way AI can enable teachers to become more human, while AI takes care of administrative work. I also thought it was important to show them Mindjoy’s AI lesson planning tool to give them a hands-on demonstration of how easy and effective AI tools can be in saving time and being effective in engaging students in class.

Page:  What are some of the key concerns for educators around AI and how do you think we can address them?

Adam: Naturally teachers are concerned that learners are going to use AI to do their work for them with minimal effort. Following that concern is the impact this will have on the student’s learning process and knowledge production. I think we have to rethink the nature of learning, and how education is delivered from a pedagogical standpoint. If learners are using AI, we should be thinking about how the information they’re using is being applied effectively - this is where we can bring value to the learning process. I also think we need to bring back the idea of apprentice learning or “cognitive apprenticeship” between teachers and students. Rather than looking at AI as a one-stop-shop, we should be teaching learners how to use it as a research assistant. It’s the educators' role to then design learning experiences that assess student understanding and skill acquisition in different ways.

“AI can enable teachers to become more human, while AI takes care of administrative work.”

Page: Earlier you said AI can enable teachers to become more human - could you elaborate on that?

Adam: AI has the potential to remove unnecessary administrative functions and free up constrained teachers who spend much of their time on data capturing and basic admin. Without this administrative boredom, they could focus more on preparing and running dynamic and engaging lessons that spark a love for learning in students.

Page: What makes you excited about using AI in the classroom?

Adam: I think that teachers desperately need it to streamline most of their tasks. It would support them in being the educators they want to be.AI can also be used to radically speed up learning processes, allowing students the opportunity to engage in higher-order thinking. They can use AI to come up with ideas in a quick and effective way, making research easier and more accessible.

Page: Tell us more about your demo of Mindjoy’s lesson planning tool!

Adam: The demo I did was basically a “whose-line-is-it-anyway” format. I asked the 180 people in a room to collaborate with me on making a lesson plan together on Mindjoy’s platform in 5 minutes. I presented my laptop screen on the projector and took them through the tool step-by-step. It was quite fun, and they loved it - there were a quite few different suggestions and loads of “oohs” and “aahs”… I suggested that it could also help substitute teachers be more effective when filling in for lessons in subjects they’re unfamiliar with. Once they saw the lesson plan could be created in just 5 minutes… they were all very excited!

Page: What is your impression of Mindjoy’s AI-enabled platform?

Adam: I really love it - I first used your JoyGPT playground in one of your free Professional Development workshops and since then I’ve created quite a few lesson plans. I LOVE the tools, and I think there is definitely potential for them to support educators in other realms as well, such as setting up assessments and marking. [watch this space - Mindjoy has some things planned]

Page: Do you have any advice for educators afraid of using AI?

Adam: Stay curious and play with AI tools together in a group - Mindjoy’s workshops are a great way to do this because it’s very hands-on. I think having that input from other educators is important - learn with your colleagues and get better at it together.

Thanks so much to Adam for chatting to us! 🤩


Overall, Adam's talk was a powerful example of the potential for AI to transform education and the important role that organisations like Mindjoy are playing in collaborating with schools and making this a reality. By empowering educators with the tools they need to succeed, Mindjoy is helping to shape the future of education, and educators like Adam are leading the way in showing us what's possible.

Page Dina Lotze

Page Dina Lotze