Future of Education: AI and Machine Learning

75% of the teachers in USA believe that printed books will be completely replaced by digital learning tools as per a survey .

Internet and Technology a game changer in last two decades

Over the last couple of decades, we have witnessed new technologies transforming not just scientific and industrial development but also completely transform our daily lives. With each technology that is introduced to the masses, we have seen a shift in the way people interact with each other and also the way they envision their lives. It is only after we are introduced to a new technology we realise the redundancies of our current practices and are able to see ways in which we could make our daily dealings more efficient. The changes we witness thereafter are subtle yet drastic, to an extent that once we get set in these new ways, it becomes impossible to imagine how we ever lived without the said technology. It is already old news, but Artificial Intelligence or AI is one such technology which is bound to, in the next ten years, change our lives for ever.

The pace of progress in artificial intelligence is incredibly fast. Unless you have direct exposure to groups like  Deepmind, you have no idea how fast it is growing at a pace close to exponential. The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five-year timeframe. 10 years at most.—Elon MuskEducation or learning in general, one has to understand is deeply affected by our understanding of what is important and what must our future generation know so they could take the next leap for humanity. But since, we live in times where changes are rapid and constant, it is very difficult to keep track of the current trends and redesign education at every step of the way. This is where we can use these technologies especially AI. With AI in education, we can expect a change that will supersede all our expectations, most likely in a positive way.

AI and Machine Learning in Education

Having witnessed the power of new technologies and the impact they can have on our lives, it would be almost criminal to not put them to use. Social media, in its own has already shown how effective it can be when it comes to education. One could easily find video tutorials on almost any topic or subject and with time the quality of these tutorials is getting better. Internet of things has already turned classrooms into a visual and experiential delightful for the learners. The preachers of experiential learning could not have asked for anything more. The challenges that people faced with logistics of hands on training have all but disappeared as we can simulate any environment and train people in ‘almost real conditions’.

AI in Education: Classroom

Though these technologies have proven effective and we already see their positive impact, they are not even close to the kind of impact AI can have when it comes to education. The ability to keep track of data and use it to make conclusive deductions can help overcome the limitations of situated learning, where the teacher has to decide which method of teaching will resonate with the majority of their audience. The same holds true for assessment, where it is impossible to objectively conclude how well a student understands a subject because we only have a limited time for such assessment and hence it must be restricted to a time bound evaluation which is clearly not very convincing as a method of evaluation. Many have identified this flaw and we already see various assessment platforms coming up which are trying to implement AI and using its power to create fairer way to assess candidates by taking into account all limitations of a fixed format exam like varying weight-age and difficulty over the entire curriculum. AI also makes sure that any bias that could creep in when a small group of people create an assessment exercise and we already see this bias getting removed in platforms where questions are generated based on user’s response.

AI in Education: Why we need it

Since forever, educators and trainers have faced the same challenge when it comes to designing a course or teaching a skill. There is evidently no way to design a course which can effectively teach everyone because despite our similarities we are all very different. This creates a huge problem because customising education for each student is a monumental task which requires immense time and human resources. So, if we really wish to create a system where everyone can learn, bringing AI in education is not just an option, but an absolute must. Below are some of the foreseeable applications as we start the use of AI in education

  1. Assessment of skills and weaknesses: When it comes to learning a skill there are multiple aspects which one has to grasp and imbibe. A fair assessment is one which evaluates you on all and can identify the areas you are good at and also the ones which need improvement. The current methods of assessment usually report an overall dexterity which, if one thinks about, is really of not much use. Also the primary purpose of assessment should be to diagnose and not evaluate, as the current methods do. With AI in education, we could fix our compass and start heading in the right direction.
  2. Creating Customised learning Content: What is more challenging than assessment, is the actual teaching of a skill. What makes it challenging is that each individual has varying degree of different forms of intelligence. This not only makes it difficult to design a course, there is a never ending debate about which medium of teaching audio/visual or hands on, is the most effective way to learn. The permutations of the possibilities is mind boggling. But with with AI, we need not design a single course but allow adjustments as the user progresses by keeping track of what is working and what is not.
  3. Practice labs for skill imrpovement: As a concept practice labs have not come up in any academic or industrial knowledge. Speedlabs has taken a lead in this area and come up with a platform where one could learn as they practice. The platform not only identifies the weak areas of the user, it recommends the relevant material to improve that and then takes the user through a AI generated set of practice set questionnaire which helps in consolidating what the user has just learnt. With the vision to bring AI in education Speedlabs is constantly updating its platform to give user a smooth and comprehensive learning experience.
  4. Crowdsourcing relevant material: Although content creation is the focus for most players in the field of education right now. It is quite logical that soon we will be flooded with good content delivered using various media. But as a learner who is new to the subject, it is impossible to pick what is most suitable for you. This is where AI comes in. With AI one need not seek what to learn but rely on recommendations made by the platform, which can not only evaluate the native content but also redirect to learning resources which are available for free.
  5. Remove the time spent in grading: In the current mode of assessment the amount of time that is spent in grading is not only huge, but a waste of time and resources. This is again something one realises when exposed to the possibility that with AI in education the user does not have to wait till the end of the course to know how well they are performing but rather get a real time information about their level of proficiency and expertise. This is not only useful for the student but also serves as a motivation to try harder.

Also published on Medium.

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