Much has been written about how professionals are adjusting to working from home — while some find refuge in productivity tips and hacks, others are enjoying the flexibility to upskill themselves. The lockdown has accelerated adoption of technologies across industries, and ed-tech firms have responded to this expeditiously with various offerings to deliver quality education to students confined at home.
Using this as an ideal time to experiment and deploy new tools, these firms have also enhanced existing systems to make online learning and virtual classrooms more effective for students. While full-scale adoption of digital technologies maybe a few decades away, artificial intelligence (AI) has been fueling an education boom.
From creating flexible learning environments with the help of video lectures and engaging quizzes to introducing deeply personalised learning that seeks to benefit all students, AI has already created a paradigm shift in education as we know it. Here are some of the ways in which it is doing that:
AI To Match School Curriculum To Online Courses
To help schools and universities identify courses on its platform that automatically matches the curriculum in their on-campus catalogues, Coursera has launched an AI-powered tool called ‘CourseMatch’. It integrates an institute’s course catalogue into its system and uses natural language processing to aligns it with offerings on the online learning platform.
This machine learning solution has been valuable to many universities since manual curation across Coursera’s 3,800 courses can be challenging. In fact, according to the ed-tech platform, it has already matched over 2.6 million on-campus courses across 1,800 schools to its online offerings.
This has enabled schools and universities to respond to students’ needs effectively and deliver relevant courses to them.
Personalised Learning Environment
One of the biggest advantages of AI-powered online learning is the personalised approach that it comes with it. The flexibility that it affords to adapt to the learner’s pace, allowing them to select their own learning path, set personal goals and milestones, and improve with the help of data-driven feedback, is just skimming the surface.
For instance, the offerings of personalised online tutoring company Squirrel AI will continue to find applications even after the Covid-19 crisis has been brought under control. The China-based company uses an AI-powered adaptive learning system to curate a student’s lessons. In other words, it can respond to a student’s interactions in real-time by automatically providing them with individual support.
How does it work? A student first takes a diagnostic test to assess their knowledge of key concepts. If they correctly answer the first question, the system will assume that they know enough about related topics and skip ahead to the next concept. With a few questions then, it builds a curriculum that focuses on what needs attention. The system will keep track of their progress and continue to modify the curriculum to make it a more effective learning experience for students.
Chatbots In Ed-Tech
AI conversational tools — or chatbots — can be leveraged to improve student engagement in their overall learning process. There are several ways in which chatbots can be used, including teaching a lesson through a series of messages, by integrating it in the feedback loop, and more.
San Francisco-based Cognii’s conversational ed-tech tool interacts with a student by encouraging them to answer correctly, gives them instant feedback, as well as provides personalised tutoring. According to the company, it achieves this by combining ‘the powers of conversational pedagogy with conversational AI technology.’
Another way to learn through chatbots is by delivering a lecture in the form of a chat conversation. Karachi-based Botsify uses a similar format to send a combination of text, images and videos to students. It not only enhances student engagement but also assesses the level of their understanding of concepts, which funnels into the next class.
AI Systems For Teacher Assistance
With educational institutions shut down and teachers challenged to deliver high-quality material digitally — perhaps for the first time — AI has stepped in. With multiple responsibilities to handle — including teaching, developing course material, evaluation, setting the paper, as well as tracking the performance of students — teachers have their hands full. Some of these tasks, however, can be automated with the help of AI.
One example would be to conduct online assessments through AI of remote proctoring technology. It enables students to sit for an examination and monitors them, simplifying the overall exam invigilation process. What is more, the results can be generated instantly after the completion of the test.
Online assessment solution Eklavvya has partnered with various institutions to make the process of conducting and invigilating examinations efficient. How does it work? It uses a web camera for face detection, live video streaming, as well as interacting with remote students in live chats.
AI can be leveraged to track other vital issues concerning education, particularly in a country like India. With the shortage of teachers being a chronic problem, AI can help plug some of the gaps in delivering quality education.
What is more, with students picking up the tropes of online learning and being fairly comfortable with it by the time the pandemic is over, there may never be a better time to continue this momentum and make ed-tech solutions more mainstream.
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Anu is a writer who stews in existential angst and actively seeks what’s broken. Lover of avant-garde films and BoJack Horseman fan theories, she has previously worked for Economic Times. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org