The transformations in the education system are hard to forge. For example, the classroom model hasn’t changed much in centuries and a lot of teachers still use the same academic methods as their predecessors fifty years ago.
However, when it comes to technology, educators are quite willing to adopt new tools and test different approaches to delivering classes. In fact, 74% of them support the use of technology in the classroom and 69% admit that technology has helped them to do more for their students according to EdTech.
Many schools have already embraced emerging technologies such as virtual classrooms. Other institutions are leveraging Big Data to create better evaluations of student performance and understand what’s working or not in real-time. Students are also accessing devices rather than opening textbooks at an increasing rate.
Of course, it would be nearly impossible to discuss technology and education without mentioning artificial intelligence (AI). AI is having an impact at all levels of education, both inside and outside of the classroom. Here are just a few examples of that.
AI can personalize educational paths for students
Consider two students, who are both delivered slightly different versions of the curriculum based on data that has been collected from their past performance on tests, quizzes, and other school work. How well will each of them perform? A study conducted by Rand Corporation confirms that greater personalization in learning leads to improved individual performance. Students, who followed custom lessons plans performed by 3 percentile points above the median in maths and reading, when compared to peers who were taught based on standard curriculum.
The concept of personalization can expand beyond the classroom. AI can help create recommendations for students as they select classes, even choose universities. For example, 1UNi startup, uses an AI algorithm to help students find the best university for them. The algorithm leverages their achievements data, aspirations, preferences to “match-make” applicants with institutions where their skills will be properly developed.
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AI helps educators focus on personalization
In classrooms that are yet to embrace personalized learning, students left behind are often the consequence of teaching methods that focus on time or completion. When instructors simply move on because they’ve covered the material, or they’ve spent a certain amount of time on a particular lesson, there’s no guarantee that all students have mastered the subject matter.
Instead, what often happens is that there are students who spend much of the time bored and frustrated because the instructor is covering what they have already mastered. Then there are the students who are left behind without having learned the material.
With AI It is possible to track student progress, and better understand what they know and what they don't. For example, an AI based learning management system could assess and analyze students’ performance on tests and homework, and then provide a detailed overview of whether the students have reached a predetermined level of comprehension or not. Teachers, in turn, can then customize their education plans accordingly.
Chatbots Can Revolutionize Tutoring
Mention AI and many people think of all sorts of bots. However, AI-powered bots can help students with all sorts of learning tasks. Picture someone struggling to complete their homework at home. A teacher may not be available to help them or explain a certain concept once again. Their parents may not have the skills required to help them complete an assignment. This is the perfect situation for an AI-based bot to provide frontline tutoring assistance.
A bot can ask a student a series of questions to assess their understanding of the subject. Once enough data is gathered, the bot could then provide answers, recommend additional sources of information, and otherwise give the student assistance. With the help of IBM Watson Education, a physical science textbook can turn into an interactive experience - students can either shoot questions about the text or respond to assessment questions posed by the system (with open-end responses).
Finally, AI can reshape education with its potential to impact educational policy on local, national, and international scale. Like any other industry, there are huge data sets of information that is relevant to education. AI makes it possible to mine that data, and make sense of it. These insights can then be used by those in power to help make better policies.