Is Artificial Intelligence transforming Education?

Looming as one of the most disruptive technologies in the coming years, even in schools, Artificial Intelligence will be able to make the educational experience more efficient and engaging, both for teachers and students.
Last year the Stanford University published the report “Artificial Intelligence and Life in 2030”, exploring the role of AI in various aspects of society. Talking about education and learning, the report stated that AI will play a fundamental role. Let’s try to understand how.

New customisable approaches to learning

Formal education will probably never disappear completely, but it is clear that the new forms of online education are becoming more and more important. “They will become part of learning at all levels, from K-12 to University”, says the report by Stanford University, “facilitating more customisable approaches to learning”.
Thanks to the Artificial Intelligence, in fact, the online education systems will learn as the students learn, understanding their needs and supporting them with a tailor-made itinerary. Also, learning analytics will accelerate the development of new tools for personalised education.
With the use of technologies powered by Artificial Intelligence, the problem of a “one-size-fits-all” approach to teaching will be finally solved. Thanks to Machine Learning algorithms, teachers will be able to identify the educational needs of their students, and find the gaps in their methods, pointing where students are struggling the most.
On the other hand, students will be able to move through their education more effectively, and talented students who are often bored by easy tasks will finally find new motivation and challenges.

AI-based tutors for a productive learning behaviour

Thanks to IoT and cloud-based services, students can easily get remote help from peers and tutors thousands of miles away. With AI, this will be even easier. Also, the school experience will definitely improve and become really engaging.
The use of AI-based tutors helps students adopt productive learning behaviours, such as self-regulation and self-explanation. “Collaborating with a human-computer could help students to learn using new approaches we can’t yet imagine”, explains professor Emma Brunskill, who leads the effort at Stanford University, working on an AI-powered tutoring system in a joint project with the University of Washington.
Brainly, a social network created to help students collaborate, is now exploring the benefits of Artificial Intelligence on its platform. To serve quality content, Brainly actually works with a team of over a thousand moderators who verify questions and answers of its users. Thanks to Machine Learning algorithms, the team of moderators have a powerful support in the automatic filter of spam and low quality content, so they are able to focus on providing quality services to students.
Last but not least, the AI algorithms will also help Brainly to provide an enhanced experience to users, with personalised features. “Each student can gain access to information that will help them along their unique path of their learning curve. In the future, that means that a student won’t have to learn the same exact thing at the same exact pace as 30 of their classmates. Instead, we will be able to hone in on the areas where a student struggles, and tailor their lessons to help them through difficult topics”, says Erik Choi, Principal Researcher at Brainly.

Textbooks and course material with customised content

Thanks to AI, companies like CTI (Content Technologies, Inc) are now able to create customised textbooks. Educators import their syllabus and material into CTI’s engine, the system reads and masters the content, and then new patterns are found. The AI algorithms of the engine will then use the gained information to create textbooks and classroom material based on the core concepts.
Traditional textbooks and course material are designed for the average student, printed in large numbers. This means that millions of different students, with differents needs and learning behaviours, use the same material, no matter what the educational style of their teachers or schools is.

Will AI replace teachers in the future?

The paper “Intelligence Unleashed”, published by Pearsons, states that we have to start considering Artificial Intelligence in education as a “lifelong learning companion”. The human-technology, easily accessible from multiple devices thanks to the cloud-based systems, will assist children and young students as they grow, developing their knowledge with a personalised itinerary.
However, teaching remains a complex social interaction that requires authentic human skills, such as empathy for example, and these skills could hardly be learned by a machine. This means teachers will not ever be replaced by robots, but instead be assisted by them, becoming better at their fundamental job.

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