Technology and artificial intelligence have transformed the educational landscape in recent years, creating a paradigm shift in education as we know it. Now ubiquitous in many of our lives, these technologies have become an integral part of the way we learn.
As AI solutions show increasing promise in supporting educational markets, online and tech-driven solutions have come under the spotlight in the fallout of the pandemic. Education institutions and classrooms worldwide are implementing edutech and artificial intelligence into their curricula, and the global edutech market is poised to reach US$181 billion by 2025 with increasing investments in AI to spur the development of technologies to support future educational needs.
With an increased need for dynamic learning strategies, educators have had to update themselves with new technologies and evolving pedagogies to cope with the learning needs of digital natives: their students.
But, the multitude of implications, applications and possibilities for AI in education remains vast. Still, one thing is for sure, the use of AI and edutech is now becoming synonymous with the future of education.
Unlocking the power of data
With the transition to virtual classes in the wake of the pandemic and the ever-growing use of technologies within the classroom, educational organisations now have access to a plethora of data and information on their students.
Unlike the physical classroom, where data points on student behaviour and progress are limited to the observations of the teacher, AI can collect, organise and analyse learning behaviour and user interaction to determine current learning levels as well as uncover learning gaps and potential issues to be then raised to the educator.
The data collected can then be used to create an adaptive learning curriculum that adapts to each student’s current learning progress. All learning materials and assessments can be customised and tailored to each student’s specific needs and levels to ensure efficient learning takes place.
Powering automation and simplifying administrative tasks
An educator’s workload never seems to end, and with the challenge of delivering high-quality learning materials digitally, AI has stepped up. By helping to automate time-consuming and tedious tasks such as attendance, grading, developing course content and tracking student performances, AI can help to ease the burden on educators.
AI can be integrated with existing software platforms to provide automatic feedback and assessment results, automating repetitive processes such as marking homework and providing instant feedback on submitted work. This means less time spent manually entering grades or checking for plagiarism, which can free up valuable teaching hours.
Leveraging tutoring chatbots and use of NLP
In addition to automated systems, AI can also be utilised to develop intelligent tutors that can assist teachers in delivering effective lessons. These tutors can be programmed to respond to questions posed by students and offer guidance on topics they may not understand, all while keeping track of the student’s progress through the lesson.
This allows learners to ask questions without feeling embarrassed and ensures that they receive the most appropriate response from the tutor. It also helps reduce the amount of unstructured time required for teachers to spend answering questions, thereby freeing up more time for teachers to focus on other activities.
When combined with the other applications of AI, such as automatic grading and the generation of assessment questions, AI-powered tutors can provide immediate and real-time feedback to students.
With natural language processing (NLP), these AI tutors and chatbots hold conversations with users to assess student learning better, leading to improved knowledge and critical thinking skills through the use of question-and-answer to better gauge comprehension of learning material and reinforce new knowledge learnt.
Simply put, having an AI tutor in the classroom is akin to having a patient, relentless teacher who never gets tired, frustrated or bored and will never judge a learner for their nagging questions.
Additionally, NLP features can also help educators better understand what is happening cognitively with their students. By analysing language use in the classroom, NLP can help identify and predict students’ mental states during learning.
When analysed in conjunction with data gathered from other student behaviour and activity, both the AI and educators can identify struggling students early on, leading to improved and timely support.
Becoming a classroom of the future
As technology advances, so too does the way we learn. The future of education is no longer confined to the traditional classroom; it’s online and accessible 24/7. By using AI to make learning easier, faster and more personalised, we are paving the way towards a brighter future for our children and youth.
To best utilise edutech and AI to provide a superior digital learning experience, institutions and organisations should put proper thought into selecting tools after discussions with both technical teams and the educators on the ground. After all, the implementation of such solutions should only be for the betterment of students, educators and faculty.
No longer a distant notion, AI has come a long way since the term was first coined by John McCarthy at the 1956 Dartmouth Conference. Intelligent systems have become commonplace, a thriving innovation that’s taking us one step closer to the world of tomorrow.
With the right kind of AI, edutech enterprises can shape the future of curriculum and the very culture of education and learning. AI’s prevalence is all around, and the possibilities are varied and endless, but it is up to educators to embrace it and use intuitive technologies to fuel the learning experience.
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