December 18, 2020

AI Enabled Excellence in Education

Authored by Srujana Elicherla, Koumudi Acharya & Team

Explore current Solutions and Possibilities of How AI can Enhance the Current Education System

The world of AI is evolving every day, with its increasing scalability feature. It has brought many changes to varied aspects within current areas of work, making them more efficient and reliable. One area in which AI can be proven to be a boon is education. Today, there are numerous ways in which technology influences the industry, making knowledge and learning more accessible, successful, and flexible.

The most prominent advantage AI tutors will have over teachers is that they are available round the clock. Personalized notes and reading material could also be made available, which would definitely help students reach their best level of understanding. AI can help teachers and students realize their full potential, which can be highly beneficial for everyone in the long run.

AI can also identify areas in which students are not doing their best and help them improve themselves, increasing the chance to achieve mastery. While AI is very promising, it lacks the ability to form an emotional bond with the learners. Students require special attention and support in order to shine or to be felt understood. If teachers can work with AI-enabled solutions, to provide students with both emotional support and an efficient learning system - there is a high chance of improved grasping power by the students, making the current education system more beneficial than it already is.

It is a well-known fact that the future will see a lot of implementation of Artificial Intelligence. As discussed, in the education sector, there are more than a few ways AI can be of help.


Personalization

In a class, it can get really difficult for a teacher to satisfy the needs of each and every individual student. All students are unique and have varying levels of concentration and needs. It is very important that each one of them receive the same quality and amount of education. The specialty of AI systems is that they can easily adapt to the personal necessities of a student and also see how well instructions are followed in order to provide a complete analysis of the student's performance.

AI Solutions:

  • Few students from the Ontario Tech University (in Oshawa, Canada) are programming a robot called ZENBO that can read human expressions, enabling it to show empathy. This robot can easily sense when a student is confused, and then proceed to solve doubts.
  • Another example is ‘Woody,’ which is an affordable social robot, built by Kiju Lee and her team at Case Western Reserve University. It has started reading expressions already!



Teaching

AI is already being used for mentoring purposes as well. Just like humans do, intelligent tutoring systems can understand the basic style of learning preferred by each individual student. They can also put an estimate on the amount of knowledge that a student already has. This data and information can be used to deliver the most customized instructions, created specifically for that student.

AI Solutions:

  • NAO robot: This 58cm tall robot was made by Softbank robotics. This robot was made to teach the Dutch-speaking children a second language.
  • Tega: Tega is a new robot platform designed especially for kids. It supports long-term interactions and has applications that range from storytelling to vocabulary building.
  • In Indus International School, Bengaluru robots are dressed in female attire and are teaching subjects like biology, chemistry, geography, history, and physics from grade 7-9.
Image Courtesy In Indus International School
Image Courtesy In Indus International School

Grading

This is probably the most advantageous job the best benefit that AI can do have in the education sector. It is because of time-consuming tasks like grading, why teachers are unable to spend more time on purposeful and meaningful work such as self-development. Grading isn't only limited to objective tests, but also subjective assignments, like essays. Machines are now able to grade multiple choice questions and soon it will be able to grade written answers making the teacher’s job easier.

AI Solutions:

AI has the capacity to point out gaps and flaws in the content of the course based on how students are performing in the assessments. If most of the class has failed to answer a particular question, AI observes the teaching pattern used for that specific topic and sees if the concepts are clear and comprehensive. This feature favors the teachers in many ways, by providing better materials or methods of learning, thus assuring that the students will improve in those areas.


Providing meaningful feedback to students

These days, students are often ashamed of themselves if they have a question regarding a topic that their peers have already understood. They are also worried about receiving critical feedback in public. AI can definitely make students more comfortable when it comes to clearing doubts on a one-on-one basis. There is no better way to learn better than to make mistakes. Moreover, students will also be provided with customized suggestions in order to improve.

AI Solutions: Chatbots

Are you bored of always having to be formal in class? This could, without a doubt, make you feel uncomfortable in class. Well, soon there will be informal interactions too. Chatbots make clearing doubts more easy and quick. Chatbots have pre-loaded data in them which is presented on screen in the form of texts, videos, images, or audio. Once the lesson comes to an end, students can take quizzes and submit their results to the teacher. This way, the teacher knows how much the student has understood.

  • According to Google - Google Meena is the best chatbot. It is trained with 40 billion words and 341GB of text data.
Google introduces chatbot ‘Meena’. (Pixabay)
Google introduces chatbot ‘Meena’. (Pixabay)

Creating a Global Classroom

AI would make it possible to create global classrooms, regardless of where the student is. If a student is not able to attend a class, all they would need to do is click on a link, and they can join the live classroom. With this option available, it wouldn’t matter if the student is unable to attend class due to an unforeseen event, as they can join the class even though they can’t be present there physically. Similarly, it would also be possible for them to interact with their peers even if they were miles apart from each other.

Conducting online classes during times of crisis, when it is not possible for schools to be functional, also becomes easy. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, when everyone was forced to stay indoors, going to school and continuing education didn’t seem like an option. But with the advent of new technology, students are able to access their classes from the comforts of their own homes. There can be no doubt about the fact that technology such as AI is definitely making education a lot more flexible, convenient, accessible, and easier than what it previously was.

AI Solutions:

  • Apps like Google Assignments, Edmodo, and Courselle are designed to let students collaborate and work, no matter where they are.
  • AI-based language translation, for example, can enable more students with different backgrounds to comprehend and analyze a lecture in class. There are many such tools such as Microsoft Translator, SayHi, and iTranslate which provide a voice-to-voice translation.


The Role of Skilled Teachers

Skilled teachers will always have a very important role to play even in this generation of AI. Experts say that technology will never be able to completely replace teachers. AI can be used to enhance ways of teaching that already exist today. AI will make all the problems with the education system easier to solve, but it definitely will not erase them. This means human intervention is inevitable.

To understand this better, let’s look at how when a potter puts his hand inside the pot to give support, he hits it from the outside at the same time. As a result of this,  the pot turns from misshapen clay into a beautiful piece of art. Similarly, even though teachers reprimand their students, they are actually moulding the student’s character, just like a potter designs his pot. The teacher helps take out the demerits of the students from their roots, making them a better person. A robot can’t do this because of its inability to relate to morality or emotions. This concludes that AI will only be assisting the teachers, but not take over their crucial role. AI can help, but can never replace our hardworking teachers.



Learning Outside the Classroom

AI can make education a lot more engaging by creating a deeply interactive experience that enables students to pay complete attention to their class and understand everything that is being explained. This is something that is essential for students with a short attention span, as AI can provide extra classes for them.

AI Solutions:

  • Apps like Byju’s or Khan academy create educational videos that encourage learning through visual and auditory measures.
  • Some apps also create personalized learning paths based on your strengths and weaknesses, enabling you to contain the information better.
  • Getting instant answers from teachers helps a student understand the concept better, and the use of AI developed apps makes this possible. With the help of chatbots, students can get their doubts cleared in a very short amount of time, which means they can move forward with their syllabus.


Learning Platforms

  1. Carnegie Learning provides math learning software, curriculums and textbooks for grades 6-12.
Image Courtesy Carnegie Learning
Image Courtesy Carnegie Learning

  1. It is an open-source intelligent tutoring platform that supports students aged 5-11 to learn mathematics.

Image Courtesy iTalk2Learn
Image Courtesy iTalk2Learn

  1. This is a social media platform for students to ask or answer questions. This platform is created by students, for students.

Image Courtesy Brainly
Image Courtesy Brainly

Monitoring Performance

AI makes it very easy for teachers and school management to maintain student performance reports and analyze patterns to see how students are doing in a particular subject. Systems like these can be used to deal with the large amounts of data and statistics that schools and colleges normally have, which would in fact take increased time and effort if performed by humans. This data can further be analyzed and represented in the form of a real-time dashboard, using which the teachers can monitor and better support a student’s performance.


Based on the above-listed facts and possibilities, on one hand - it is valid for educators to fear that their role would be diminished, or even annihilated, with the increasing use of technology. However, AI-enabled solutions will work, only when utilized by the current teachers. On the other hand, it would be absolutely foolish to ignore the advantages that AI has to offer in the field of education. If anything, it actually helps to bring about a huge scope for excellence in the overall learning experience. As mentioned, when you have a skilled teacher using AI, it can actually work wonders that traditional methods of education may not be able to.


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