The modern world owes a lot to artificial intelligence even though we might not realize it yet. For example, your calendar is managed by Siri, Cortana can wake you up In the morning, Facebook suggests new friends and so on. Taking things even further, we already have cars that can drive and park themselves and the air traffic control isn’t handled by human beings for quite some time now. There’s no field you can think of that hasn’t been improved by AI and that’s a fact.
Even though it’s benefits are undeniable, Artificial Intelligence did not really manage to find its place in the Education system. With so many useful applications in domains like military, medicine, manufacturing and others, it’s really a mystery why AI isn’t more involved in the education process. Luckily though, things are starting to move in the right direction and, in order to be prepared for when AI fully enters the field of education, let’s discuss some of its most useful roles.
Automation of Time-Consuming Activities
Teachers have a lot of things to take care of and only a limited amount of time to do so. For example, grading test papers or homework is very tedious and time-consuming. This time could be used for more important things like properly interacting with students or preparing more attractive classroom materials. This is the perfect example of an activity that could be taken over by AI for most types of grading. The multiple choices tests and the ones that require students to check boxes or fill-in-the-blanks could be easily programmed into a computer that analyzes the papers and automatically grades them. Also, analyzing student writing and evaluate the quality of an easy cause and effect essay topic or any other essay topic isn’t that far from becoming reality. Sure, there is some work to be done in that direction but with the amazing advances in technology, that shouldn’t be an issue.
Identifying and Understanding Student Needs
Starting with kindergarten and all the way to grad school, a key way AI can impact education is being able to develop personalized teaching programs based on every students’ needs. Individualized learning systems can be made available through Artificial Intelligence and steps in that direction are already taken with more and more adaptive learning software, programs and games. These learning programs start by firstly identifying the needs of the student, the areas where improvement is necessary and afterwards create a plan to address those specific areas.
Machine learning and AI put to great use in assisted learning can already be observed in programs like the Khan Academy and, as technology will further advance, ramifications of such programs will also develop.
Improving Existent Teaching Methods
Even though teachers are always well-intentioned regarding their educational materials, mistakes can always occur. As the saying goes, “We’re only human”. Well, here’s the thing with AI – it’s not human and that reduced the chances of mistakes to 0 if it’s programmed properly. Something similar is already in function and is called Coursera. It is based on machine learning and every time a student gives a wrong answer, it alerts the teacher and gives hints to other students that encounter the same question, guiding them to the correct answer.
Besides providing a better learning platform, the system fills in the gaps in explanation that may appear in courses, at the same time helping the student to build a similar conceptual foundation. Instead of finishing the whole assignment, then waiting on feedback from the teacher, Coursera gives instant feedback and ensure better performance for similar questions.
Additional Support for Students
It’s obvious that no matter how smart an AI gets, it can’t really replace a human tutor, however, it can provide a lot of additional assistance. The advantage of an artificial tutor over a human one is that it can be available 24/7 and give instant answers and feedback. Furthermore, it can be a very useful tool for reporting student progress to the teacher, thus, freeing up more time that can be used by students for improvement.
An Artificial Intelligence tutor, even though a great idea, can only be used for basic stuff like math, chemistry or other fundamental courses. It can’t yet be adapted for advanced subjects or anything that involves creativity or imagination. That doesn’t mean future development of AI technology won’t make it available, especially at the pace things evolve in that regard.
Providing Helpful Real-Time Feedback
Besides providing help with crafting courses and offer support for students, an AI program can analyze the program as a whole and offer feedback to both students and teachers about the results. A similar system is already implemented in several schools in the US, like an online dashboard where performance is being monitored through AI.
These systems will be able to offer students the support they need and, at the same time, help teachers spot the areas where every individual student needs to improve and take actions in that direction. Things can be taken a step further and such AI systems can even be used to help students identify their major. With access to their performance from the past years, a software based on machine learning could be the best option when it comes to choosing a major. Of course, teachers have the advantage of imagination and creativity, however, subjectivity is always an issue. Artificial Intelligence can objectively analyze strengths and weaknesses in the teacher’s past and give the best suggestions.
Changing the Way Students Find Information
These are the AI systems, that usually work in the shadows. In a sense that we’re mostly unaware of their actions and how important they are to improve the way we look for info. Such examples are everywhere around us already, like Google that shows results based on your location or Amazing that takes into consideration last purchases when it recommends you certain products. All these systems work together to make finding and using information a lot simpler for us. And the same principle can be applied in schools as well. Especially considering the vast amount of information available now, in the Internet era. A lot of students might find themselves lost and not knowing what piece of info to use. Artificial Intelligence that knows what your assignment is, can check the internet for you and display the results that are most relevant to your task.
Making the Trial-And-Error Process Less Intimidating
You can’t have teaching without trial-and-error. Even so, the fear of failing is built in our DNA and that makes a lot of students feel intimidated by the possibility of giving the wrong answer to the teacher standing in front of them. It’s only natural to have these feelings in a classroom full of other students and when the person in front of you is often a model you don’t want to disappoint. Here’s where AI can step-in and make the learning process a lot easier from this point of view. With a friendly interface that teaches students, it’s ok to give wrong answers every now and then, it could provide the perfect judgment-free support that a lot of students need.
Removing the Need to Come to Class
Even though we’re talking about a situation that might only be possible in the future, the use of AI in the education system can dramatically change the way we see it now. Through AI programs, support and systems, students could learn from anywhere in the world, thus eliminating the need to actually go into the classroom. This also frees up a lot of time that could be used for further improvement and, at the same time, reduces the costs of education altogether making it more accessible. Something that is very needed, especially in the developing countries where the levels of education are quite worrying.