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Canton Zurich uses AI to check homework as part of landmark trial

Canton Zurich uses AI to check homework as part of landmark trial

Several Swiss schools across Canton Zurich have successfully used artificial intelligence to mark homework submitted by students. As the education system continues to grapple with the influence of AI and chatbots in the classroom, supporters say the new technology can help reduce pressure on teachers.

AI homework checker part of wider Swiss experiment

Speaking to the Tages-Anzeiger, Raphael von Thiessen from the Economy and Innovation Office of Canton Zurich confirmed that AI has been used to mark student homework in five separate schools in the region. The five-month-long trial which concluded recently, the first of its kind in Switzerland, was part of a wider study designed to see how technology could be used and regulated by local councils in Zurich and other cantons - ranging from “Smart Parking” tech in Frauenfeld to marking tests in Zurich.

During the trial, as soon as a student completed an assignment at home, they would take a photo of the work with a mobile phone or tablet. They then uploaded this image to a special app, developed by Swiss company Herby Vision, which then marks the work, provides corrections and gives suggestions on how to improve.

Results of AI trial in Canton Zurich schools very positive

This information is then sent automatically to teachers, who can then provide their own feedback and style lessons based on their student’s strengths and weaknesses. So far, von Thiessen said that feedback on the trial has been “very positive” from both teachers and students.

One of the teachers involved in the trial told the Tages-Anzeiger that “the children used the app independently and loved it. I was able to give them feedback because I saw the results on my computer.” She added that she was able to use her extra time to plan lessons and style them around individual students’ needs. 

Zurich government wants canton to become AI powerhouse

However, concerns do remain around data protection and how students’ sensitive data would be processed by third parties. In their own “Innovation Sandbox” guide, the Zurich Economy office wrote that “there is an urgent need for clear guidelines to ensure that AI is integrated responsibly and effectively into the education system.”

Speaking to reporters, Economy Office Director Carmen Walker Späh (FDP) said that she wanted Canton Zurich to be at the forefront of AI development and that the trials in schools were designed to see how the industry can be regulated in a positive way. “AI is rapidly penetrating our lives and transforming our society and our economy. This development is taking place – whether you like it or not.” 

Jan de Boer

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Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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