For quite some time now, educators globally have been discussing the need to rethink and re-evaluate the education system for future generations.The on-going COVID-19 pandemic has provided educators time to rethink the sector and come up with solutions which can make education more seamless and accessible to all students around the world.
This has pushed technology to the forefront and will be used continuously from now on as a key instrument in educating the generations to come. AI has not only transformed multiple aspects of our lives from automation, driverless cars, blockchain, Cloud computing to smart gadgets, and now AI-enabled learning is gaining momentum.
From 2018 through 2020, it is forecasted by analysts that the AI market in the US Education Sector will grow at a CAGR of 47.77%, according to research and markets. Opportunities AI provides more students and teachers have been listed below:
Opportunities for students
The life of students has changed drastically and they prefer to do everyday tasks using electronic gadgets like their smartphones or tablets. AI applications provide them to study on the go and according to their preference. Adding to that students will be able to receive feedback from their teachers in real-time mode. These AI-based applications can adapt to the needs of the students individually according to their level of knowledge, topics of interest and so on. The system will be able to identify the weak sides of students based on their responses and help to curate learning materials to help them overcome and gain conceptual clarity over their weaknesses.
Focusing on the individual needs of the students will aid in providing personalized learning to students and if the course material is too difficult for the student it can be changed depending on their needs by the system and help fill the gaps in their learning. It is believed by 2024, 47% of learning management tools will be enabled by AI capabilities.
Voice assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google Home have taken the market by surprise and have been accepted by the masses. Such voice assistants are the future of education as they allow interaction with various kinds of learning material available online without direct communication with a teacher making learning possible anywhere and at any time.
This has been already implemented by Arizona State University, where Alexa is used for routine campus needs. The voice assistant can be used by students to get answers for common questions or help them follow their schedules. It has been seen that using such assistants helps to keep students more engaged in their learning process.
Opportunities for Teachers
According to a recent survey conducted by McKinsey in partnership with Microsoft, it was noted that the working of teachers was estimated to be 50 hours a week on average. This number has increased by 3% in the past 5 years according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development Teaching and Learning International Survey. Further, it has been suggested by some education professors that teachers will be replaced by computers, robots, and AI.
On the contrary, in a report published in 2018 by The McKinsey Global Institute, it is suggested that despite these shocking revelations the teachers won’t be replaced anytime soon. It was estimated that there will be a rise in the school teachers from 5% to 24% in the United States between 2016 and 2030. This number is estimated to grow 100% in countries like China and India.
According to a survey conducted it was noted that teachers were spending less time directly interacting and engaging with students as compared to doing administrative work, lesson preparation, and evaluating papers.
Through the survey conducted the areas with the largest potential for AI identified were preparation, administration, evaluation, and feedback. The areas immune to AI were actual instruction, engagement, evaluation, and feedback where teachers could have benefited from the free time available with automation in the other identified areas.
AI has the potential to help teachers save time in multiple areas, but it has to be implemented with caution as providing hardware isn’t enough. Great time and effort will be required to integrate effective software which bridges the student learning to the curriculum and at the same time train the teachers to adapt to the new system.
Evaluation and feedback can be done through applications based on machine learning using advanced natural language processing which makes it possible for computers to assess and give detailed targeted feedbacks to students which can be reviewed and tailored according to individual students according to their interaction with them in class.
Computer grading has been used for quite some time, even before AI and these technologies combined can help to save half the current time teachers spend of them which can further be used by them, to provide personalized lectures to students in need.
Challenges in Adopting AI
Some of the challenges faced by educators around the globe in adopting AI are:
- AI cannot help to build creative skills, emotional intelligence skills as there is a lack of human connection in the learning process, and also concerns regarding bias have been brought up which can further add to pressures faced by students of diverse ethnicities or colour.
- Teachers should be ready to adapt and learn the new technology in their classes to fully exploit the potential AI holds in revolutionizing the education industry.
- Training and informing people to use AI applications is required. If the system is not slowly adopted without providing proper training to both students and teachers can make the learning process more complicated than ever.
- Lack of large data available currently. Small trials have been conducted to oversee the functioning of AI in a classroom but the technology has not been tested on a large scale to fully gauge its performance and impact.
AI has been rapidly changing and developing the ways that many industries like healthcare, retail, banking, and many more operate and slowly penetrating the education industry as well which provides a massive potential for AI-enable applications and is the future of education globally. The changes and reforms these opportunities created by AI can provide a breakthrough to the education industry and even make teaching a more desirable job whilst making learning simpler and more personalized for students.
Schools will have to implement AI effectively and in a balanced manner with keeping concerns around bias and privacy in mind to make it attractive for the masses to adopt without these doubts. Also, the current AI applications available in the market leverage machine learning and real-time data integration. But the future of AI rests on more advanced applications that are capable of practical intelligence according to the situation and adapt to allow building an emotional connection with students which fuels their performance.