Artificial Intelligence is tipped to bring a tectonic shift in the world. People have debated over its usefulness in great lengths and detail. Today, the biggest fear is that AI will be a threat to jobs. And the alternative to that is to create a robust system of education. But, would it possible to use AI and train a breed of students that would be resistant to the ills of the technology? Is there a common ground?
So, by now, we know that Obama has always been scepticalof Artificial Intelligence. And so has been Elon Musk. However, both of them believe that the only way to not let AI ruin the future of mankind is by putting in special efforts in the world’s education system. Mark Zuckerberg tells us that AI is the most wonderful tech innovation to happen alongside the IoT. Opinions have been divided by what is truly a future disruptive technology.
And, that got us thinking if there is after all a common link to all the aspects of AI presented by people belonging to either side of the pond? What could be common between making AI a helpful technology, and at the same time educate people on as to how to tame the mammoth tech development. And the answer was right infront of us. See, if AI has such a huge potential, then why not use it to strengthen the world’s education system? That way, people can make the best use of AI and at the same time also educate millions of other people.
Now, the use of AI in education is not a very new topic. AI in some form or the other has already made its way to modern classrooms. But clearly, with the world still fighting over the technology, that doesn’t seem to be enough. People are still sceptical. The need of the hour then becomes to identify how AI can play a major role in strengthening the education system of various countries. After all, Artificial Intelligence is a classic example of how something new could be used to change every aspect of our lives when we change the lens. And education is a field of million opportunities. There is always a scope to grow. And perhaps the correct use of AI in the education system could make the world a better place to live.
Automating Administrative Responsibilities
The change in the field of education has to start from outside the classrooms. Only then will the impact of AI be holistic. One of the simplest but impactful things AI can do for the educational space is to speed up the administrative process both for institutions and educators. The tedious process of grading homework, evaluating essays and measuring student responses can require valuable time from lecturers and teachers who would prefer to focus on their lesson planning and one-on-one time with students.
Machines are already capable of automating the grading process for multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank tests. Soon, they will be able to assist and eventually replace human grading for written response work as well. Admissions processes can also be streamlined and improved, reducing the workload for high volume admissions offices. Automating the process of paperwork and support for students with common admissions questions via chatbot and interactive website materials can improve the process for both administrators and future students.
A Helping Hand
Let’s face it. Teachers and parents don’t always come handy for the inquisitive mind of a child. Plus, it is hard to get assistance from them all the time. Simply because they can’t be always available. And this is where AI powered tutors could come in. Through AI, tutoring and study programs are will grow more advanced, capable of teaching fundamentals to students struggling with basic concepts.
Already, there are intelligent tutoring systems such as Carnegie Learning that use data to provide feedback and work with students directly. These tools are designed to support teacher and tutor approaches to student difficulties but soon will be more advanced and capable of providing specific details for students as well.
In the future, visual and dynamic learning channels outside the classroom will become not only more prevalent but capable of supporting a range of learning styles, all while addressing common questions and concerns students have that cannot be readily addressed by teachers, TAs, tutors or parents.
Unending Source of Information
There are already a lot of people on YouTube ready to give you classes on any given topic. There are millions of websites with good quality content for students’ perusal. But, who really has the time to go through every single website and video on the internet? And this is where an AI algorithm could come in handy. Sometimes, students want much more than a few thousand search results. With an AI bot, they can get just that data that they need instantly.
Moreover, the ratio of teachers to students in schools today is widening exponentially. AI offers an opportunity to tap into the adaptive learning processes already being featured in assessment software, learning games and digital textbooks to individualize learning. Tools that can highlight and emphasize key areas where students are suffering allow teachers to focus on facilitating the learning process and offer the one-on-one support that students at all levels need.
Anyplace is a School
One of the primary challenges of integrating AI into the educational system is the natural impact it will have on the very nature of education. Where and how will we interact with students if we start relying more heavily on machines as educational resources than teachers?
Already, the number of online classrooms has exploded in recent years. In 2016, 28 percent of students surveyed by Online Learning Consortium reported taking at least one online class. And the rate has increased consistently year over year, with many students attending college strictly online. Classrooms still serve a vital purpose in introducing students to new ideas and developing critical problem-solving skills that are hard to replicate in a machine setting. But the one-size-fits-all nature of compulsory education will almost certainly change as AI becomes more prevalent.
Students in MOOCs, online learning classes and blended class experiences will be able to benefit from customized, individualized learning paths in ways that until recently would not have been possible.
Paradigm Shifts in Curriculum
Already there are AI tools that use the basic outline of a course and syllabus provided by the teacher to produce customized textbooks and curriculum for students. These systems will only continue to advance as the technology running them becomes more sophisticated.
Curriculum materials heavily rely on access to digital devices in the form of laptops and iPads, both in and out of the classroom. New software that customizes the tools and resources available on these devices will make it possible for teachers to provide a framework in which students actively engage with individualized resource materials.
Enhanced Attention in Classrooms
Hands-on education is a challenge. It can be time-consuming and with a large group of students, prove difficult to manage. Homework, which requires students to take an active role in their education, works to some degree as experiential learning, but it is often considered boring. How do we overcome that challenge?
Technology offers exciting new opportunities in the form of immersion that rely on new wearable devices like the Microsoft HoloLens or augmented reality now being integrated in smart devices. Being able to see and interact with the human body or a microscopic cell instead of just reading about it in a book — with the supplement of an AI providing tangible, individualized learning support — will transform how students engage with the material.
The trends above show us that Artificial Intelligence can really be a boon for the education sector. The call should be to integrate it well within the ecosystem. There are already a number of resources helping shape up the future of education. And as time goes on, there will be even more. The possibilities to revolutionise the education sector seem endless today. And tomorrow, when AI is presented to us in its most refined iteration, it would really change the way we look at schools and colleges. It would also make for better students, and in turn better professionals that can tackle the negative aspects of AI. There are startups in the education space like Clever that are taking on education in this way already and countless more trying to break in. With this vested interest by the startup community, it’s no doubt that change is happening and AI will become more integrated very soon. AI will be a major part of that, as students, teachers and administrators all benefit from a smarter, more personalized approach to education.