AI Tutors vs. Human Tutors - UnicMinds

AI Tutors vs. Human Tutors

The world of AI is rapidly changing with the integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning. AI tutors can come in and disrupt the space of teaching and learning with a wide range of inter-linkable knowledge, but can it replace all the relevant human elements of teaching and learning. Can AI do what Google Maps did to the human-human interaction to know the route from A to B? Maybe it can. AI is good when humans know what they want from it, but when they don’t know what they want from it, it may not be very useful. For example, when you are sick, you know you want to be fit again but you don’t know how. You will not go to an AI doctor bot, you will go to a real doctor who may be using AI to automate some of his work. But, you will never go to an AI and ask for medical advice or prescription. It is primarily because you don’t know what you want and the stakes are high. On the other hand, you know you want to go from A to B, and you will never stop your car and ask other people nearby – you will rely on Google Maps. Because you know what you want and it is a proven technology in this assistive area. Tutoring is very information driven, assistance driven, and students may know what they want exactly, there could  be a chance for major disruption in this field for AI to dominate the main seat. There will be certain assistive AI based learning applications that will help students and there will remain certain applications where human element will be required in tutoring. 

As every technology does, AI too has some advantages and disadvantages over the human tutors. Let’s look at some of those elements. With all humility, a human tutor is not just a package of knowledge on a subject, the tutor brings in the human elements of attitude, judgment, perception, engagement, humor, understanding student demeanor, mood, and many more attitudinal, behavioral, and subject knowledge based attributes.


Intuition is an important area of teaching. A good tutor starts with a student’s intuition and works his or her way upwards to the main point of the topic. Intuition is a fundamental human element that cannot be replaced by AI tutors. A student gains more intuition as he or she gains more understanding. But, it is the responsibility of a good tutor to build the intuition of the student in the right way.


A tutor observing the student well and understanding the demeanor and mannerisms of the student can preempt if the student has really understood the concept or if the student is just playing along with the teacher. A good teacher will ask the student not passively but actively. AI tutors depend on student’s active participation and the teaching can become passive just a video based learning sometimes if the intent from the student is not active enough. For example, in the video below, the tutor preempts that the student is not understanding well and is just playing along.

Teaching with Humor

Humor is an important element in teaching, especially the younger kids. With humor, a good teacher can break ice, build more engagement, and provide anchors to remember the concepts in a joyfully memorable way.

Reciprocation & Engagement

While teachers too can become monotonous and robotic, once a child with a smiling face is on the other side, it is only natural for the teacher to reciprocate with a joyful smile and start the class. It is human nature to reciprocate and mirror the other person. This in turn with the human engagement of learning and teaching with back and forth is important for the learning and development of the child.

Addressing with affection

Affection can change a child’s mood and enthusiasm. Addressing the child with affection will make the child recognize it and it will make the child become more comfortable with the tutor, eventually leading to more engaging and enquiring discussions and learning.

Mood & Interest judgment

While teaching, it is important for the teacher to judge the mood and interest levels of the child. Is the child engaging actively and assimilating the information actively or is the child becoming passive in the class and is just playing along to finish off the class. The teacher can then accordingly change the topic, tonality, delivery, engagement, exercises, and work problems accordingly in a dynamic manner that can bring back the student’s interest and active engagement towards conscious learning.

Cross-talk and Cross-discussion

It is not always about what the teacher wants to teach, it is also about how the student is actively connecting the dots from previous classes or knowledge from other subjects. Cross talk and Cross discussion is more actively engaging with a human tutor than an AI tutor. While the AI tutor can more actively move across topics of large breadth, often most teachers too have a decent breadth of knowledge and too wide a depth is not so required as compared to the willingness to be more enthusiastic and engaging to promote knowledge across streams and subjects. In the video below, while the teacher was applying the concept of the Pythagoras theorem with respect to chords in the circle, the student out of the blue talks about the diameter in a differently perceptive way. The teacher immediately confirms her understanding in that context and then comes back to the original thread of the Pythagoras theorem. These things will not be possible with an AI tutor, as everything will be linear with a bot.

Non-linear delivery

As mentioned in the previous point, there is a danger that bots can make teaching very linear. Yes, bots can actually navigate between topics from the same subject or across subjects with more depth and diversity than human tutors do, but the dangers of linearity are more around entertaining student’s requests and holding them in a stack and coming back and continuing the original thread in a non-linear way for the student. Once the student intuitively understands and feels that this is very linear, then the danger is that the student will lose interest in the plot of the bot.

In an era where technology is increasingly dominant in our lives, it’s tempting to say that AI will dominate all facets of learning. AI is great at assistance, and will be used by students worldwide for various assistive purposes such as practicing more relevant questions, material, and more. But, it will still not take the main seat despite having a tremendous range of knowledge just like why we will still go to a doctor using the aid of AI, but not AI itself for any medical problems. We will still not go to AI to prepare our food when we’re hungry and to AI doctors when we’re sick despite AI beating MD qualified doctors. This is because at the core humans trust humans. But, just like how Google Maps replaced human-human interaction, AI too will replace certain types of human tutoring. Going forward, human tutors and students will teach and learn with the form of AI more and more in the future. But, human tutoring is still important for child development and engagement.

Hope this is useful, thank you.

You may like to read: Positive Parenting & Character Development in Children, The Value of Compassion in Teaching, & How to Teach Coding to Kids?