By Beas Dev Ralhan
The advent of new technologies and the constant upgradation of software have dramatically transformed the education sector. In the past, it was the introduction of computers in primary and secondary schools that spurred a revolution. Today, desktops and laptops, overhead projectors, electronic whiteboards, television and video conferencing have become commonplace in classrooms. Schools and colleges are always on the lookout for deploying innovative technologies in the classroom to make learning fun and engaging, and their jobs easier.
A multitude of edtech solutions have cropped up in the recent past, but one of the most exciting technologies that left an indelible impression on education is artificial intelligence (AI). AI along with machine learning (ML) has the capacity to pinpoint each student’s educational needs in a classroom and comprehend different learning styles, material, and the pace at which students learn. While humanoid robots replacing teachers is yet to materialise in real life, it is AI that is revolutionising education and helping students get more out of their educational experience.
Broadly speaking, AI tools are being developed for three types of applications in the education industry: pedagogical, subject domain and learning. This means that AI is learning how to teach effectively, understand the subject being taught and offers a complete analysis of the student’s knowledge-state graph. Here are a few ways in which AI is redefining education:
The significant rise in the number of students in a classroom has made the process of grading papers and assessing students a tedious and time-consuming activity for teachers. With AI-assisted software, grading papers and exams becomes more efficient and accurate. There are tools that leverage AI to do basic editing like correcting grammar, spelling and sentence construction, saving the teachers’ effort and time. AI can read the student’s answer, compare it with the answer key and either assigns the point value determined, or marks the question incorrect. AI can alert the teacher if an answer needs to be reviewed. All these have enabled pedagogues to review the results, identify the areas where a student is struggling and focus more on in-class activities and student interaction than grading.
Personalised learning is the need of the hour. AI enables students to master content at their own pace. It also offers adaptive learning, which quantifies the student’s knowledge of different topics accurately through the Item Response Theory (IRT). IRT asks students a mid-level question and based on the response, the difficulty level of the next question and the subsequent ones are modified. Questions are asked based on the estimated ability of students. Another component of adaptive learning technology is Knowledge Space Theory (KST), which mimics a teacher’s understanding of students’ learning gaps and requirements accurately. AI closely monitors the performance and learning pattern of a student, after which the data is fed into the adaptive platform. KST maps the accurate knowledge state of every student and delivers a knowledge graph for them. This insight, coupled with improved language capabilities, sets the stage for personalised AI tutors. The bots coach the students towards the desired learning goal, answers questions and provide feedback that is both fast and informed.
AI can not only help teachers curate a curriculum that helps to meet individual needs but also provides feedback about the overall success of the course. This helps teachers break free from the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. AI-curated curriculum can help shift from progressing linearly through chapters or topics to navigating through an expertly designed web of content. This, along with other emerging technologies such as virtual reality, will help to revolutionise education immensely. Immersive interactive worlds can make complex subjects more relatable and easier to grasp for the students. For example, cells can be blown up to reveal their inner complexities, chemicals can be combined without any danger of explosions, and the laws of physics can be tested at a low cost. AI addresses points of confusion as soon as they arise and answer questions on the fly.
One of the biggest bone of contention in education is AI will obliterate the need for teachers in the classrooms. However, in reality, AI is helping to eliminate the drudgery out of teaching and automating as well as expediting administrative tasks, in a way facilitating teachers to spend more time working with students to hone their skills. As AI technology advances, a shift from the old-school, classroom-based approach towards learning is inevitable. AI is sure to make education interesting, engaging and enjoyable for all students. The K-12 sector in India is finally embracing the diverse possibilities of AI and adaptive learning. The advancements in AI learning models is sure to assist all stakeholders in performing their tasks better, be it in pedagogy or administration and help the country leapfrog in the field of education.
Beas Dev Ralhan is co-founder and CEO of Next Education.
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