In the book ‘Out of Our Minds’, by Sir Ken Robinson he says ‘The more complex the world becomes, the more creative we need to be to meet its challenges’, and this is becoming increasingly clear in education and the workplace in the 21st century. While the 20th century education gave importance to compliance and conformity over creativity, there is now an increasing need to be creative in order to be successful. Unfortunately most students across the world continue to be educated the same way with a standardised curriculum because schools fail to respond to the rapidly changing environment.
The 21st century students, namely the Generation Z and Generation Alpha do not know a life without internet smart phones and other such gadgets. This generation is growing up with an extremely unmatched level of information at their fingertips. This means that their needs when it comes to education is also one of a kind and entirely different from traditional practices. Gone are those days when AI in Education was thought of as science fiction. With virtual classrooms and educational materials becoming accessible to all through smart devices and computers, AI is undoubtedly a part of our lives now.
According to the Artificial Intelligence Market in the US Education Sector report, artificial intelligence is expected to grow by 47.5% from 2017 to 2021 in the American education market. Apart from many other artificial intelligence domains, China has already leapt to the frontlines in advancing AI-centered education and the US is taking steps to put AI in the classroom, too. All of this is good news for teachers since AI can be a great ally to a teacher. An AI enabled education system could not only teach but also measure engagement of students with the material, assess how far ahead or behind a student is, support teachers with additional contextual information and provide individual support for parents and students outside of school.
Here are some real world examples of how AI is being used in the field of education
Teacher and AI collaboration
As AI educational initiatives continue to mature, the expectation is that AI can help fill needs and gaps in learning and teaching and allow schools and teachers to do more than ever before. Some of the advantages would be driving efficiency, personalization and streamlining admin tasks to allow teachers the time and freedom to provide understanding and adaptability. The vision of AI in education is to leverage the best attributes of both machines and teachers to provide the best outcome for students. There is almost no doubt that AI is going to be a huge part of the future hence it becomes all the more important to expose today's students to AI and accustom them with the use of technology.
Assisting Educators with organizational tasks
Educators spend almost 50% of their time on non-teaching tasks that eat away valuable time that can be spent on students. AI can step in and make quick work out of these tasks while at the same time offering recommendations for how to improve learning. Although machines can already grade multiple-choice tests and give personalised responses to students, they are very close to being able to assess written responses as well. Other capabilities range from handling routine and repetitive paperwork, dealing with logistics related matters and even providing a first-line interaction with parents and guardians. This allows teachers more time to focus on things that require a personal touch with the students.
Hyper Personalization by AI
When it comes to learning, what works for one will not work for a peer. This is why AI systems have a huge opportunity in creating tailor made and personalised learning solutions for students. Using machine learning based hyper personalization, AI systems are being used to develop a custom learning profile of each student and customize the training materials for each student based on their ability, preferred medium for learning, and skill. It is expected that by 2024 more than 47% of learning management tools will be enabled by AI capabilities.
Future of AI in developing nations
With the development of AI, the developing countries are at risk of suffering new technological, economic and social divides. Some major obstacles to tackle, lack of basic technological infrastructure must be faced to establish the basic conditions for implementing new strategies that take advantage of AI to improve learning. If developing economies were to adopt an AI-first approach, perhaps they could address critical development challenges. Moreover, with the impact of covid-19, the timelines of all major digital interventions reduced from 3 to 4 years to just a couple of months. This is clearly a good sign for developing countries where there are numerous roadblocks with respect to governance & infrastructure.
Risks and Challenges
While AI generates consumer benefits and business value contributing to numerous industries, it is also giving rise to a host of unwanted, and sometimes serious, consequences. Data needs to be used ethically, and students need to be informed about how their personal data will be shared and used by AI algorithms. With universities already applying AI to various operations, they will likely find that there are still a number of challenges to be resolved. Perhaps the most crucial point to address is the way in which educational institutions can best prepare students for the new technology-based world where more repetitive and routine tasks will be automated and performed by artificial intelligence, automation, and robots.
However, there will always be roles requiring creative skills, cognitive skills, and emotional intelligence skills. Right now, many universities around the world are failing to teach students about the kinds of skills that will and will not be needed in their future careers. Treading through the thin line between free expression and hateful, threatening speech is a daily challenge for instructors in many classes that address political, social and cultural issues. Although online learning is generally free from the risk of campus shootings that our schools and universities suffer, we must be vigilant to cases of hate that are expressed and could easily extend into physical confrontations in the worst of circumstances. It is not about educating more students with fewer teachers but about educating the students we already have through the teachers we already have, but more successfully with integration of technology’s assets.