It seems that no sector is safe from the disruption of Artificial Intelligence. For the most part, the technology aims to improve industries rather than replace workforces outright in some kind of robot-revolution that many are fearful of. Education is no different.
The AI Market in the US Education Sector 2018 – 2022 report suggests that the AI in education market is set to grow at a CAGR of 47.7% between 2018 and 2022. But what exactly does this mean, and how will AI impact the classroom?
One of the ways in which we will see an impact is in the individualisation of learning methods. It couldn’t help but remind me of the (commonly misattributed to Albert Einstein) quote, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Cheesey, maybe, but it serves a purpose in understanding the importance of individualised learning methods in schools. I’m sure we can all recall a subject we weren’t great at, and another that we excelled at. I’m sure we can all remember – not just in school – but how we take new things in even now, and how one way the information sticks better than in another. For me, I learn much better doing something hands-on myself than watching others do it and taking notes. You might learn better in a group setting, sat on your own with your head in a book, watching videos or engaging with interactive content. There is no right or wrong way to learn but unfortunately, given the resources many teachers deal with, they cannot tailor curriculums down to the individual when teaching classes in excess of 30 or more students. This is where Artificial Intelligence can step in and make a difference.
Thanks to AI, educators can forget about having to ‘teach to the middle’, and alienate a large segment of their class. The range of skills and learning abilities amongst 30+ individuals can be vast, but using machine learning and artificial intelligence, lessons can be personalised for all to learn as they do best. The power of AI will allow for a customized curriculum to be delivered to all students.
There are of course, a number of companies working on this technology, with Carnegie Learning being one of them. Their Mika learning software uses Artificial Intelligence to analyse the way students interact with the learning materials. This data is fed back with reporting tools providing immediate insights into learning abilities so that students know what they need to work on and how. The possibilities of monitoring student interaction with learning materials are endless; imagine an AI that would interpret facial expressions and pick up where students are struggling and thus tailor their individual learning accordingly. We’re already seeing AI that can read facial expressions, so this might not even be that far away!
AI in learning is not only important in the delivering of subjects, and helping students learn individually, but also in creating ‘global classrooms’. Lack of education in poorer areas, or less well-integrated areas is a real problem. Many face language barriers and lack physical accessibility to good schooling. It can also be used in automating administrative tasks for teachers, so that their attention can be paid in other areas of the learning experience. For all the teachers out there, you’ll know just how much time you spend marking papers, reports, coursework, filing, and finishing up other time-consuming paper work. But what if there was an AI for that? Using machine learning and feeding in the relevant grade bandings and correct answers can help free up a lot more time for teachers. AI is already being used to mark multiple choice questions and answers, and it might not be long until it is able to interpret written responses too.
Whilst in real terms, the education sector can be seen as being a bit slower on the uptake of AI compared to many other industries, the changes are certainly happening. It’s an exciting time for the coming generations, and I for one, can’t wait to see where it takes us.
Matt Reaney, Founder