Artificial intelligence (AI) has slowly, but surely crept into our lives. This technology is having a disruptive impact on different sectors and will continue to do so in the future. It’s also changing the face of our education system. Although teachers are still seen as irreplaceable figures in the classroom, their jobs and practices will be affected by AI in a positive way. This should come as no surprise. After all, education and technology go hand in hand, and as AI innovations continue to mature, this will make learning easier and more efficient.
AI isn’t just a passing trend. It’s constantly evolving, and it’s here to stay. In fact, MarketsandMarkets predicts that the AI in education market will reach a value of $3.6 billion by 2023, compared to $373.1 million in 2017. Chatbots, online platforms, and other AI solutions will bring a breath of fresh air into an industry that remained the same for decades. Throughout the years, educators relied on one-size-fits-all teaching, which should’ve been abandoned a long time ago. In a traditional classroom with 30 students, making learning personalized is very difficult, if not impossible, but AI can help teachers to overcome this challenge.
Happy Numbers guides students through the learning process
Although having a teacher for every student in a conventional classroom might seem unrealistic, AI can make it happen. Ivan Kolomoets and Evgeny Milyutin, co-founders of Happy Numbers, would probably agree. Happy Numbers is an AI-based platform that offers students one-on-one tutoring and guidance in math. Earlier studies have shown that this has a positive effect on students’ learning outcomes. For instance, one study reveals that students who were involved in one-on-one tutoring perform better than 98 percent of students who were taught in a conventional classroom.
Described as a “virtual teaching assistant,” Happy Numbers features math exercises and analyzes students’ performance, after which it sends feedback to teachers. The platform is compatible with any device, whether it’s a tablet, PC, or a smartphone. Happy Numbers is being used by schools districts across the US, and in the past year, students solved over 30 million math exercises using this innovation.
CENTURY reduces teachers’ workload and saves time
Another application of AI comes from CENTURY Tech, a London-based company, which developed an AI platform called CENTURY to tackle two common issues in education: teachers’ workload and lack of individualization. The platform tracks each student’s progress during their learning journey, identifying strengths and gaps in the process and adapting accordingly. Moreover, it analyzes students’ performance and gives feedback.
This platform is a time-saver for teachers, since it will suggest what students should learn next based on their performance. According to the company’s website, this cost-effective educational tool will save teachers six hours per week on tasks such as planning, managing homework, and creating data reports. Another benefit is that CENTURY’s students have 30 percent better scores when it comes to understanding the learning material. Priya Lakhani, the company’s founder, believes her innovation could help 1.8 million students who are underperforming in UK schools. With the right tool, those students could achieve their fullest potential.
AI in mobile learning
AI is starting to play a bigger role in distance learning as well. Technological advances, especially the rise of mobile tech, allow students to access educational materials anytime, anywhere. In the Republic of Niger, in West Africa, educators have implemented the UTIFEN project to promote mobile learning. Niger is among the poorest countries in the world and has a very low rate of technology adoption. Part of the project is the development of a machine learning platform for smartphones. The UTIFEN platform utilises adaptive technology, which means it uses AI to adjust instructional activities to students’ individual needs and skills. Based on the their progress, the system can add or remove educational content to adapt to the learner. Currently, 20,000 users are harnessing the power this platform. By analyzing data points from each pupil, the system can create patterns for further learning.
A chatbot named Hubert interacts with students and collects valuable feedback
If one thing can improve learning and teaching the most, it’s having the right feedback. But gathering feedback from students can be time-consuming. Luckily, AI chatbots can do the job quickly. In 2017, a startup specializing in education technology, Hubert.ai, released a chatbot designed to interact with students and collect feedback on a particular lesson or course. Feedback surveys are usually conducted in schools once or twice a year. What makes these surveys inefficient is that they’re mostly focused on quantitative data and lack students’ comments and suggestions. Even when students write comments, it can be hard to categorize and analyze them.
This inspired the team at Hubert.ai to come up with a chatbot that engages into a conversation with students, asks questions, and gathers their feedback. The chatbot relies on machine learning algorithms to automatically analyze and categorize data. This makes it easier for the teacher to understand the feedback and see what needs to be improved. So far, more than 1,000 schools and universities have tried out Hubert, and many more are expected to do the same in the years to come.
Can AI solve the teacher shortage?
While some believe that chatbots and other AI solutions will eventually take over our jobs, there’s a labor shortage in education, so AI can actually help education institutions to overcome this challenge. This is particularly the case in Japan, where schools are struggling to find a qualified workforce due to its ageing population. To solve the existing crisis, the Japanese Education Ministry is planning to implement AI robots into classrooms. The project will consist of equipping 500 schools with AI robots to teach students English language.
This isn’t the first time that educators in Japan have explored the potential of AI robots. For instance, Doshisha Elementary School in Kyoto has been using these robots for the past two years. Students can practice their English language skills through conversations with the robot, and since most students are too shy to speak English in front of other students and their teacher, interacting with an AI robot helps them overcome shyness and anxiety.
While emerging technology like AI is introduced to schools worldwide, the way teachers deliver their lessons is changing as well. Though some argue that such disruption could one day make teachers obsolete, the future of education looks more optimistic, at least for now. Once this tech becomes mature enough, it will hold immense potential for the sector, helping to provide personalized learning for each and every student.