Human society has been advancing at an accelerated rate, thanks to technology. Every industry today uses some sort of technology to be more efficient, to realize better quality results and to inspire a change from conventional methods. Now, one of the most popular technologies globally is Artificial Intelligence (AI), the science of creating human-like machines that can learn, think, decide and solve complex problems like we do.
AI technology is actively contributing to the latest breakthroughs in all industries and is also shaping the international business landscape. It is also fast becoming a necessity for everyone, not only a privileged few. The education sector, for instance, stands to gain immensely from AI. In addition to brick-and-mortar schools, colleges and universities, people toady have the choice to learn from video, text and audio courses over the internet. But the industry as a whole still faces many challenges. Let’s see a few ways how AI can help:
- By Analyzing Data
Each time we use digital devices, we generate data that our service providers collect. A proficient data analyst can further interpret this data to discover meaningful patterns. Some of the global leading companies (like Amazon, Google and Facebook) are known to analyze data through ‘machine learning’ i.e. a subcategory of AI technology that teaches machines to make effective data-driven decisions. But this technique isn’t exclusive to the Big Tech companies or large government organizations anymore because more and more companies are welcoming data science and machine learning.
In education too, the widespread use of technology by students produces vast amounts of data. At the same time, EdTech companies are already introducing educational games, highly interactive interfaces, intelligent tutoring systems (ITS), virtual labs, simulations, massively open online courses etc. If we can systemically analyze this data using AI, especially machine learning, we can effectively identify the pressing needs, demands and challenges of the users.
With a much broader understanding of online education, new startups have the chance to extend more intelligent and effective services. So, better quality educational platforms that generate much better and more positive outcomes is attainable if can you adopt a data-centric business model—a model that AI can realize easily.
- By ‘Personalizing’ Education
Educational software is becoming a necessity for all modern educational purposes and at the same time, the need for personalizing the entire process is also quickly rising. Now, let’s consider the “two-sigma problem” in education to see the reason why. Experiments and research in 1980’s by an educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom discovered that if a student is supported by one-on-one tutoring in tandem with traditional classroom classes, the student can significantly improve positive results. It was thus inferred that factors in addition to the teacher, especially technology, can powerfully influence learning success. It was termed a ‘problem’ because the world depended very little on technology then and the majority of people couldn’t envision a widely applicable, scalable solution.
But today, technology has become pervasive. Over the decades, educators have been trying to support students with private, one-on-one tutoring whenever possible but with very little success. Fortunately, AI has the unique ability to deliver personalized, one-on-one learning opportunities to millions of people, regardless of their location. Based on well-established learning science principles, educational AI tools can track the progress levels of a particular student and design the most optimal way for him or her master the subject.
- By Replacing the Tedious and Repetitive Tasks
The fundamental promise of AI is for machines to take over tedious and repetitive tasks so that human beings are free to take up higher level challenges. In education, grading students’ write-ups, assignments and answer papers is a draining task for teachers and here, AI can provide an answer. Grading can be automated by applying ‘computer vision’, a subcategory of AI technology that focuses on training machines to learn from visuals, to the student’s work.
Educational AI tools like an essay-grading software and other educational software is in great demand today. Because AI is adaptive in nature, AI-powered teaching tools can adapt to an individual student’s learning journey, thereby identifying the drawbacks, the limitations or the bottleneck areas faced by that student. They can also provide crucial feedback to improve the educational journey considering factors like instruction, subject matter, duration, style of engagement and so on.
- Augmenting the Role of Teachers
Teachers are central to traditional education systems, but technology is transforming the way we live and function as a society, including the way schools, higher education and further education institutes work. Now, teachers have already begun supplementing traditional teaching methods with AI-backed courses to realize personalized, hands-on learning. As AI technology is malleable in nature, its products can be molded to best suit any need. For instance, educators may need to teach a large number of students, there may be a diverse mix of students or students may be far away from each other, but whatever the case, AI tools can be suitably programmed.
AI’s programmability is very useful in education because each student is unique: has different motivations, faces different problems and requires different requirements. AI provides answers.
Technology, especially AI, is permanently changing the way society works, including the education sector. There are already a handful of cases where humanoid or social AI robots have been introduced into the classroom. In 2020, it’s becoming easy to picture a more prominent role for AI in education in general because opportunities are almost limitless.