How Artificial Intelligence is Changing the Future of Education
“Our intelligence is what makes us human, and AI is an extension of that quality.”
– Yann LeCun
About Artificial Intelligence
The future predicted in science fiction books and movies is here. From virtual assistants to functional gadgets, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has permeated our lives in ways that we’ve never seen before. The renaissance in the field of AI has had a tremendous impact on our education system. Today, students and teachers are adopting different ways of learning and absorbing information. According to the Artificial Intelligence Market in the US Education Sector 2017-2021 report, AI in education is expected to grow by “47.50% during the period 2017-2021.” This does not mean that we will see a humanoid replacing a human teacher in the classroom. Instead, AI is increasingly being used by teachers and students to improve their learning experiences in the cocooned world of education.
In this article, we look at how artificially intelligent tools and chatbots have become a gamechanger in the rapidly-evolving EdTech world.
In the educational context, one of the most powerful promises of AI is the capacity to accelerate and scale personalized learning. The personalized learning environment allows educators to zero in on individual skills and weaknesses and solve their problems. For example, when a student falls behind in a class, smart tutoring systems can create individualized lesson plans that educators can use to improve performance. By holding the teacher accountable for the learning needs and creating customizable content, AI helps in strengthening teaching practices.
Going a step further, Artificial Intelligence can be used to select universities and classes by leveraging the data, achievements, and aspirations of students.
Focus on STEM
With advances in technology, there’s a need for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills as the gateway to employment opportunities. There’s a growing demand for data analysts, scientists, AI, and machine learning specialists. To cater to the fastest growing job categories, there’s a need to reimagine the education curriculum to teach students the relevant skills in the digital and AI era.
Inclusiveness in Education
One of the biggest benefits of AI is that it would help support the teaching needs of children who need special education. Children who suffer from learning disabilities, impairments in language and communication or have trouble in reading, writing and math can have difficulty adapting to the one-size-fits-all approach of the current education system in India. To be effective, education must address their unique needs. This is where AI can come into play, in creating unique personalized content to suit the needs of every child.
Automated Evaluation and Admin Tasks
Educators are often bogged down by administrative tasks such as grading and evaluating homework. AI has immense potential in automating and expediting these tasks for the teachers and the organizations. From grading multiple choice tests to offering advice and responses to students, AI can free the educator from the most time-consuming and monotonous tasks. This time can be better spent on specialized training to improve the student’s education.
For any student who has struggled with algebra a day before their test, AI-driven tutoring and smart programs can be the solution to their woes. Digitized study guides and personalized learning interfaces are some forms of smart content that are specially created for elementary and post-secondary students. The smart guides, for example, break down the textbook content and explain it through interactive content and comprehensive assessments in the form of chapter summaries, flashcards, practice tests, and true-false questions.
With smart content, educators are not just limited to the traditional mediums of teaching but can create curriculums and customizable content that work on different devices. These platforms integrate well with self-assessments, simulation systems, gamification techniques and video conferencing.
AI is disrupting traditional classrooms. Today, students can learn from anywhere, anytime in a digital learning environment and platforms. Online language translators and subtitle plug-ins further enhance the learning environment. As augmented reality becomes a part of the learning environment, AI, 3-D gaming and computer animation are used to create virtual characters and social interactions.
For a long time, teachers have been at the receiving end of poor salaries and opportunities for growth. This has understandably led them to become twitchy when the idea of replacement comes into the picture. However. AI is nowhere close to taking over a skilled educator’s job, much less outperform them. Instead, with proper introduction and training, teachers can be taught to harness the new tools in the classroom that can go a long way in assuaging the anxieties that the technology can create.
Also, with machine taking over most of our routine work, the emphasis of education now needs to shift to soft skills training. Soft skills such as social understanding, creativity, communication skills, and empathy are key differentiators that are going to be far more important in the future. Unfortunately, the current education system in India teaches anything but soft skills. Despite the requirements in the workforce to excel in communications and teamwork, no formal degrees exist to adapt to the changing needs of the future. While we may not be able to change technology from disrupting the job market, we can create an education curriculum that allows freshers and professionals to update their soft skills and makes them future ready.
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5th March, 2021