AI in education: challenges & opportunities for research

by Ann Fastré & Rani Van Schoors, KU Leuven, Belgium.

“What does the recent AI push mean for our education and training institutions? How do we reinforce the nexus between AI technology and teachers/trainers?”

Amidst the rush of research documents, reports, papers and articles surrounding Artificial Intelligence (AI) in education, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and have numerous questions. While the debate focuses on all the promises of innovation, tangible and real examples of AI applications often remain vague.

Therefore, the research group itec (an imec research group at KU Leuven) authored an accessible positioning paper. In part one, the report begins with an overview of the status, challenges and perspectives of AI in learning, teaching and training. This is all brought together in a comprehensive literature review. In part two, the different research expertises within itec are outlined to describe our current AI related research projects as well as the concrete use cases we are working on. In doing so, we provided an overview of various types of AI research to truly give an idea of the existing applications, what is already possible, and how such research can be relevant in education. The implications, recommendations and challenges for the future are brought together in an overall conclusion that can inspire future research and design efforts.

“Moving ahead, we need to raise awareness and empowerment about privacy and ethics concerning the use of AI, demand main actors’ agency within the teaching/training and learning environment (i.e. teachers/trainers and learners) and incentivize explainability within artificially intelligent systems that can be used in both formal and informal educational settings. Only then will we be able to go digital while simultaneously staying human.” – Ann Fastré and Rani Van Schoors – researchers itec, an imec research group at KU Leuven

The overall goal of this report, is a call for a nuanced point-of-view in the AI debate, wherein machines empower educational stakeholders and vice versa, ultimately strengthening education together. To do so, it is important to acknowledge limitations and risks that come along the way for each stakeholder group within education.

“The domain of AI in education has sparked a lot of questions, with various stakeholders actively engaging in the pursuit of answers. Educators, edtech companies, researchers, innovators, government bodies, learners, and parents all have their part to play in the future of AI in education. In formal education as well as in lifelong learning. (…) We hope this papers offers you valuable insights about educational AI in all its facets.” – Lien De Bie, Programme manager imec Smart Education

This positioning paper is intended for anyone interested in AI and its impact on education. While it delves into a small segment of the complex AIED (AI in education) field, it seeks to offer key facets of the contextual framework in which our research group operates. Our aspiration is to continue contributing to the ongoing puzzle that builds over time, i.e., the intersection of AI and education, which is a timeless and intriguing area of research and practice for educational practitioners and researchers around the globe as it shapes the future of teaching and learning.


Ann Fastré, developer of the online training, linked to research group itec, KU Leuven, Belgium.

Rani Van Schoors, developer of the online training, linked to research group itec, KU Leuven, Belgium.