The impact of conversational AI is becoming more noticeable, and we can see it from the growth of the conversational AI market, which will reach AUD 22.6 billion or USD 17 billion by 2024:
We already know how significant the role of conversational AI is in healthcare, media, and financial services. The business world seems to be benefiting from conversational AI the most, as this technology powers many business operations, including marketing and customer support.
But where does education stand? How is conversational AI shaping the future of learning?
Let’s explore this topic a bit more.
As you know, conversational AI is the technology that lets computers recognize natural language, decipher, and understand it to find the right response and replicate human speech. Conversational AI usually involves chatbots and virtual assistance that can come in handy in the learning process.
A study published in the Computers & Education journal explores different uses of conversational AI in education. It references Lars Satow who developed a model of learning facilitation by AI teaching assistants. According to this model, conversational AI will:
● send personalized messages to welcome new learners
● advise learning materials and suggest possible tasks to improve learning
● respond to general topic-related questions asked by students
● establish the requirements for the students to meet learning objectives
● provide personalized comments
● analyze individual learning requests
These activities create a multi-functional learning environment that facilitates learning, both online and in a classroom setting. The study has determined that the current state of conversational AI can perform tasks from level one to level four of Lars Satow’s model, which shows that AI’s potential is already high enough to be used in education on a broader scale.
With such a significant potential in mind, how can conversational AI impact the future of learning?
Let’s take a look at a few possible scenarios.
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It’s common to believe that students are quite tech-savvy and familiar with how to use technology for their benefit. But even though it takes no time for a student to figure out the latest Samsung smartphone, most of them still don’t know how to look for credible information online.
According to research, students fail at understanding how to tell apart a trustworthy website from an untrustworthy one. In a survey, students didn’t name the citation or article sponsorship as key factors in determining the credibility of the source. Besides, out of 203 students, 80% believed that sponsored content is 100% trustworthy.
How can conversational AI help here?
You can program a chatbot or a virtual assistant to identify search queries submitted by the students and provide links to credible resources online. These can be links to public online libraries, scientific websites, .edu links, and other resources that don’t spread misinformation.
Another situation in which conversational AI can be extremely useful is helping teachers cater to students’ needs. Educators often have to teach in large classes, sometimes reaching up to 30 people and more in some countries, and sometimes students get deprived of the attention they need.
Conversational AI can help improve this situation. For instance, chatbots can answer the most common questions related to the topic of the lesson, supply students with learning materials, and guide them through tasks. As a result, every student will receive help.
Conversational AI can also be extremely helpful in special education. Linda Ferguson, the CEO of subjecto, the resource of flashcards and other educational materials, says that chatbots can help teach children with special needs since they also need a personal approach. Chatbots and virtual assistants can help special needs students manage tasks and get access to learning resources without the teacher’s help. Using conversational AI will also help them become more confident in using technology, which can benefit them in the long run.
Many students lack guidance while studying, which leads to poorer academic performance. Research has even found that teachers might require guidance counselor training since the connection between teacher support and academic success is so strong.
But even if students get enough help from teachers, they can still fall behind. Sometimes students have a lot on their plate, and it gets hard for them to manage all the tasks and responsibilities, which are often accumulating before exam weeks.
What is the role of conversational AI here?
In this case, conversational AI can act as a reminder, helping students remain on track and keep up with their schedules. They can also ask questions related to assignments at any time of the day.
Chatbots and virtual assistants can provide personalized help, which also positively impacts academic performance. Pounce, a chatbot created by Georgia State University, helped the school reduce dropout rates because it catered to each student’s personalized requests. As a result, GSU managed to narrow the graduation gap and boost its students’ academic performance.
Student engagement is an important part of academic performance. And proper feedback channels play a significant role in keeping students motivated.
Conversational AI solutions can create such feedback channels, connecting teachers with their students and keeping student feedback in one centralized storage. Besides, chatbots can collect this feedback anonymously, removing any bias from the learning process.
Educators also can use conversational AI to evaluate the progress of the course they teach. For instance, Hubert, an edu-bot, uses natural language processing to collect student feedback on courses and provides teachers with solutions on how to improve the course.
In education, it’s also important to provide students with administrative support and keep them updated on the latest school news. At this point, conversational AI can also replace usual news boards in school corridors, send timely notifications to students and answer their questions.
The best part about using chatbots and virtual assistants for administrative support is that you can conveniently categorize information for better access. For instance, a smart virtual assistant can have categories with college admission information, campus events, financial aid programs, etc.
As a result, students will have one more resource of important administrative information and won’t have to go on the school’s website to browse for it. They also won’t have to leave the house to talk to a counselor, which can be dangerous during the pandemic.
As you can see, there are quite a few applications for AI in education already. It can help students find credible information, perform better academically, and get access to valuable administrative information.
Teachers can also greatly benefit from conversational AI. Chatbots can be of great help during lessons catering to each student’s personal needs. Educators can also use chatbots and virtual assistants to collect student feedback.
That being said, conversational AI still has a long way to go until it can reach its full potential. We still have yet to see greater personalization, which requires further research and development. But the current applications of AI already show their amazing impact on the future of learning.
Credits: Alison Lee is a professional content writer and editor. She’s also a high school teacher passionate about Edtech and how it can help students get a better education.