Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) used to be concepts you’d expect to find in science fiction. But these technologies are no longer part of some distant future setting, they’re integral to our everyday lives – a feature that comes as standard in everything from our cars to our online shopping carts.
As AI and ML become more integrated into society, these technologies are beginning to reshape entire industries, and education is one of them. Countries like China and Singapore have already invested heavily in this area, employing AI and ML to completely revolutionise teaching in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Elsewhere in the world, the pace of change has been slower. But with both governments and experts championing the adoption of AI in our education systems, it’s only a matter of time before they’re commonplace in western classrooms too.
So how will the adoption of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning change the education sector as we know it? As a technology company that’s focused on creating better educational experiences, we decided to take a look at how these technologies can benefit both students and teachers alike.
Benefits for students
By increasing personalisation and giving them more access to expert teaching, AI and Machine Learning can play a crucial role in improving students’ educational journey.
Ongoing analysis and feedback
Personalisation is one of the biggest trends in education right now. It’s also an area where technology can play a prominent role to deliver a more tailored experience for students. Adjusting educational programmes based on the strengths and weaknesses of individual learners is key to delivering the best possible experience. But that level of differentiation simply isn’t possible when you’re managing dozens of students at a time.
That’s where AI comes in.
Here’s what this might look like: AI-based learning systems would constantly monitor performance, ability and progress in real-time, then provide suggestions to educators based on their findings. This could transform the education experience for students, especially those that might not traditionally speak up in class.
The key ingredient here is data. In order to learn, the AI needs to be fed with a constant stream of information. There are difficult and important decisions that need to be made in this area, especially when it comes to education. But there is undoubted potential for AI and Machine Learning to revolutionise the educational experience for students everywhere.
While technology, no matter how sophisticated, can never replace the role that educators play, AI-powered tools can give students access to the information and guidance they need, even when they’re out of the classroom. Every student learns at their own pace and in their own way, and AI chatbots and tutors can support those who want to embrace opportunities outside of the classroom.
These automated assistants serve as round-the-clock resources that students can consult from anywhere at any time. Whether it’s a quick question or more in-depth guidance on a specific subject, intelligent systems can replicate the behaviour of real-life tutors to identify learners’ needs and provide targeted feedback to improve their understanding.
Learning is no longer restricted to the physical boundaries of the classroom or the in-person availability of educators. Instead, technology can truly democratise the educational experience.
Whether it’s optimising information for learners with impairments or translating it into multiple different languages, AI and Machine Learning can enable anyone to access high-quality educational experiences. This technology for example already plays a crucial role in the cloud-based infrastructure that’s used to deliver remote learning platforms. In fact, at Nimble we’ve already helped to implement these kind of solutions through our work with Nord Anglia Education and MyTutor.
AI is also helping to overcome some of the challenges that are traditionally associated with remote learning. Chief among those is feedback, or rather the lack of it. With little or no face-to-face interactivity it can be difficult to help distanced students understand why they may be incorrect. Using AI tools like Blutick, however, we can build systems that can replicate the personalised interaction of the classroom experience. Not only does this help students to feel more supported, but it also gives educators greater oversight.
Benefits for educators
There’s no technology in the world that can replace teachers. But AI and Machine Learning could have a drastic impact on how they do their jobs, giving educators the tools they need to allow them to better support students.
Get your time back
According to researchers, teachers spend less than half (43%) of their time actually teaching students. The rest of their days are spent planning lessons, marking papers and dealing with administrative tasks. It’s a shocking statistic and an area where AI has the potential to make an immediate impact.
Just as it has in other industries, AI can automate menial tasks freeing teachers up to focus on actually teaching. Whether it’s grading, administrative work, or replying to general questions – technology can have a tangible impact on educators’ day-to-day lives.
When it comes to education, AI and Machine Learning can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, this technology can help to unlock teachers’ time and help students to reach their potential. But on the other, the very same tools that are being employed to enhance students’ academic pursuits can also be used to cheat the system.
Academic integrity has always been an issue for educators. But in a world of virtual exams and AI-powered tools that can write content for us, the challenge is greater now than at any other time in history.
The good news, is that while AI makes it easier for unscrupulous students to cheat the system, it also makes it easier for teachers to catch them. The technology is already being used to scan documents for plagiarism and verify the identity of remote learners. In the future we can expect this to be taken a step further, indeed developers are already working on algorithms that can identify machine-written text.
Monitor in real-time
In an era of growing class sizes it’s all but impossible for educators to provide comprehensive support to every learner, which means that students don’t get the kind of one-to-one attention they need to flourish. Without this support students might fail to realise their academic potential, alternatively, they may become disillusioned and perhaps even leave their educational experience.
With AI, teachers can actively monitor students in real-time in a way that’s simply not possible in a traditional setting. We’ve already looked at how student data can be used to monitor performance, but developers are also working on other tools to support teachers such as facial recognition software that can spot when students are feeling bored or confused.
The goal of these tools is not only to help teachers to become more effective but also to prevent students from becoming disenfranchised. Giving teachers more tools to identify issues surrounding engagement and motivation can help them to prevent these issues before they even arise and keep more students in education for longer.
The future of AI in education
Just as it has in other aspects of our lives, AI and Machine Learning will play a prominent role in the future of education. But as with all EdTech, to unlock its true potential these tools must work in harmony with teachers to create environments that help students to flourish. That’s why at Nimble we continue to work closely with educators to build solutions that are specifically designed to address learners needs and create exceptional educational experiences for everyone.
Create education technology greater than you thought possible.
If you’d like to learn more, or are interested to know if we can help you, get in touch.