This blog post talks about what artificial intelligence is and what the future of AI holds for the educational world
Artificial Intelligence – it still sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, right? However, you probably encounter it every day, possibly every waking hour, without even categorizing it as AI. If you hailed an Uber ride to work today or flew to another city in an autopilot airplane, you’ve interacted with Artificial Intelligence. If you’ve interacted with Siri on your iPhone or used the voice-to-text feature to send a message, you’ve interacted with AI. If you checked your mail in the morning and saw that useless emails have gone to ‘spam,’ or you uploaded a picture to Facebook and your mates automatically got tagged in the photo, you’ve come across AI.
Artificial Intelligence, often referred to as Machine Intelligence, is the ability of machines to think and learn the way humans do. It is a broad, technical segment of computer science and deals with developing ‘smart’ machines that can understand, react, and work like humans. Through human input, multiple tests, various types of datasets, these software programs try to mimic human intelligence. Some AI functions that are common practice today are speech recognition and GPS tracking devices.
Some of the earliest recorded uses of AI are from the early 1950s.
John McCarthy, a scientist and technology-enthusiast, made a smart checkers-player, which was way ahead of its time. Since then, Artificial Intelligence has taken off, making tremendous progress over the years.
Artificial Intelligence is all around us. It has infiltrated every realm of our lives, and you can’t escape it.
Though the use of AI and robotics is more prevalent in some industries like manufacturing, assembling, and even construction, with time, it is now entering unconventional domains of society, like education, transportation, and medicine. That is nothing but good news because artificial intelligence can serve to make life easier and more wholesome for everybody involved.
Artificial Intelligence is fast entering the world of education, too. As more and more people discuss the drawbacks and limitations of conventional schooling, training, and educational practices, AI is emerging as a solution to almost all qualms about this sector. The transformation is always gradual, but several features of artificial intelligence have already infiltrated the educational and L&D department and made it ‘smarter.’
If you compare the classrooms of say, even two decades ago, you will be able to notice a stark difference.
Chalkboards have been replaced by interactive screens and panels connected to computers where the teacher/trainer can pull up any graphic, video, or slideshow during their class. More and more teachers are opting for online classes, where everybody logs into a portal and attends a live class from wherever they are in the world. Grading and employee evaluations are largely being done by online apps and machines, and hard copy reports and paper submissions are almost unheard of now. Quizzes and evaluation assessments are taken online. Short courses and even full-fledged degree courses are being offered by ‘virtual’ universities and online corporate training institutes.
As people become increasingly aware and welcoming of this revolutionary change, AI is developing further and replacing ineffective teaching methods at a far greater rate than anticipated. The impact of Artificial Intelligence in educational practices has been the focal point of countless debates and pieces of research, and the results look promising.
We rely on AI for so many things in our life, without even realizing it. The same is true for the educational and developmental field. There is a lot of artificial intelligence influence already in the field, and it has managed to make learning, development, and growth both easier and more effective.
The advent of artificial intelligence has eased the burden of monotonous but non-eradicative work like attendance tracking, scoring quizzes, and preparing and analyzing progress reports and employee performance data – tasks usually are done by the instructor. With the automation of these tasks, the instructor can spend more time individually assisting students instead of tiring themselves out over menial paperwork.
While the technology for computers checking multiple-choice questions is widespread in almost every institution, there is potential in AI for more development. Applications and software like Grammarly and Turitin make tasks easier by checking for certain benchmarks, like plagiarism, referencing, and grammar. Work is underway to develop programs that can assess subjective, written responses as well.
Learning Management Systems have also become exceptionally common in most competent institutions and companies.
An LMS is a complete solution and a guide for a student or employee. By bringing together everything relevant to a person’s education under one domain, it makes for a hassle-free and manageable portal.
An LMS is a software application that helps with administration, documentation, training, and progress tracking of students and employees. It can be used to ensure the smooth functioning of course management, attendance tracking, submission of work, and also as a portal for collective discussions and announcements. An LMS can keep students and employees updated on their progress, with automatic visuals and charts mapping out their progress so they can work on their tasks in the most efficient way possible.
Perhaps the best use of Virtual Reality is in an educational setting. Imagine a class of potential pilots learning to navigate an aircraft in flight, experiencing what turbulence feels like and getting to know exactly what the inside of a plane looks like and what all the buttons and levers do.
Envision medical students performing a surgery themselves or looking at the progression of diseases on a cellular level instead of gaining plain old textbook knowledge – all without the need to get an actual body for their experimental exercises.
Picture a secondary school classroom full of young children during a history lesson where they are walking around the streets of Medieval England, observing the pyramids of Giza, or witnessing the horrors of the First World War.
Virtual Rleality provides practical knowledge and an extremely immersive and enjoyable experience that spikes student’s interests, retention, and knowledge, and costs nothing more than the VR equipment. The VR application can adjust the situations according to real-life decisions that students are taking, showing them the consequence of their practical actions.
One of the most legitimate criticisms of conventional school systems and workplaces is that they do not acknowledge different personalities and learning capabilities, and expect every student in the class or employee in the workplace to keep up with the same pace as the rest.
The introduction of AI at the school, universities and corporate level can resolve this problem as each person will have access to online mentoring through a computerized mentor who would provide supplementary knowledge and support on an individual level. By recognizing the individual needs of the particular student or employee, it will prepare lessons accordingly and provide mentoring without tiring or failure.
The future is online - from online workspaces to online classrooms. Online courses have gained a lot of traction in the modern educational world due to its ease and scope of access. Anybody around the globe can learn about anything regardless of their geographical limitations. A lot of these online courses are often free of cost, making them available to people who can’t afford a formal education at an expensive university.
Online learning spaces can be utilized by anyone who wants to get an education but is unable to because of personal limitations. For example, parents with newborns can continue learning and working without worrying about leaving the baby alone. Physically impaired people or people with limited mobility can continue their education without the hassle or pain of going out.
Online courses come as a whole package; complete with occasional quizzes, exams and progress reports. These quizzes and exams can be taken when the student feels he or she is prepared to take them. The smart system can also recognize if the student is sufficiently prepared or if they need supplementary learning aid material. Students even get offered certifications and micro-credentials to reward them for good results.
Some of the most praised benefits of using AI in education are:
Research supports the fact that the use of visuals and, even better, virtual reality, in eLearning helps employees and students retain the information for longer, trigger emotions and enhance comprehension. When compared to simple written or spoken lectures and lessons, the retention rate is more than twice as good, and the learning rate is almost 400% better with visual aids and virtual reality!
Administrative tasks are streamlined to provide a better experience and time that is usually wasted on monotonous and futile tasks is freed up. This is a very simple way in which AI benefits the education and L&D system.
Some children and adults can have distinct learning needs. Not every person can learn at the same rate, and it is next to impossible for an instructor to pick up on these among big batches. The intervention of AI can ensure that each person is getting the amount of attention they deserve; whether from an automated, smart teacher, or a human one, by tracking an individual’s progress and identifying their weaknesses.
Some smart software can even pick up on people’s learning disabilities and differences. A diagnosis of these conditions is crucial, especially in younger children, so they can be provided with the right tools and aids to develop and grow.
The future of artificial intelligence looks promising. There is still so much to explore, so much to discover in the vast universe of artificial intelligence. The evolution of AI has been so rapid; only in a few years, AI has completely transformed the landscape of so many industries. If the development of artificial intelligence tools and techniques continues at the same pace, we might not even be able to anticipate what it can have in store for us in a few years. The key to any technology is that it continues developing. Continuous rethinking and adjustments to AI tools will keep opening up boundless doors.
Some probable results of innovation in AI could be individual, personalized assistant-bots for students, to help them with their language skills. These bots would correct them and give them learning prompts all day, anywhere. Even as we sit here, scientists are working on a smart robot tutor who can assess a person’s emotional state and well-being and determine the factors that are hindering their learning and work. The robot will then be able to focus on providing emotional support.
Artificial intelligence can also be used to fill in the gaps that are left by human instructors and can be used to give feedback and evaluation to both the students and the teachers/trainers about their performance.
While it is still a topic of contention as to whether the human intervention of teachers, trainers and moderators should completely be eradicated, it is starting to happen with online courses. Critics of artificial intelligence claim that education systems are also responsible for people’s social and emotional development, which will remain stunted if all human touch is removed from this sector. Perhaps, for now at least, it is best if a combination of a human instructor and AI tools is employed to provide the best possible experience in education, learning, and development.