DH Education: The benefits of AI in schools

Through comprehensive data collection, AI can help instructors identify a student’s weak areas. Representative image
Last Updated 19 April 2018, 08:40 IST

Artificial intelligence (AI) has slowly penetrated into every aspect of our lives, from booking travel and shopping to communication. AI has left no sector untouched, and education has been benefiting from the advances made in AI. Gone are the days when education was conceived as the dry experience of learning. Thanks to technological advances in machine learning and improved research into educational pedagogies, teachers and students are now able to make learning a fun and an interactive process.

Traditionally, schools, colleges and other educational institutes adopted a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching. In this method, students were placed in classrooms and taught as a single group – students were all expected to learn and understand at the same pace. Teachers were unable to provide much personal attention, for students who were racing ahead and those lagging behind. Their needs were neither identified nor met. Here are some ways that AI can help teachers meet the needs of their students:

Improving learning through AI

Through meticulous tracking of metrics and comprehensive data collection, AI can help instructors identify the weak areas and accordingly suggest strategies for improvement. AI algorithms are constantly working to enhance education by collecting, analysing, and correlating every interaction that takes place between the teacher and the virtual classroom. By charting the effectiveness of these different methods over time, AI can help teachers improve their methods to benefit students in the classroom. For example, if a majority of the students fail to solve a Maths question, AI can pinpoint a specific information or concept that students have failed to grasp, so that, educators are able to come up with improvements in materials and methods to address the gap.

By tracking each student and generating such insights on an individual level, machine learning algorithms can offer insights and suggestions to teachers, to help address learning gaps in individual students as well. By recommending targeted strategies for improvement, these AIs help teachers identify and address gaps in imparting knowledge at both the individual and collective level, which translates into a more meaningful learning experience for students.

What works best for students

Machine learning systems are advanced algorithms that can use large pieces of data to spot trends and patterns. By studying large sets of data over time, the algorithms can identify trends and patterns. Variations over time can help the system identify what is increasing and reducing different variables, even when the relationship between such variables is too complex for humans to decipher. The more information that a machine learning algorithm receives, the better it can get at predicting the impact it can have on complex systems. In education, learning outcomes can be evaluated through tests and examinations, these systems can decipher what methods work best to improve these outcomes for all students.

AI systems using machine learning methods can gauge what learning method works best for a student. It can suggest the use of videos or interactive learning modules, which would have greater effectiveness. The level of detail and complexity it can handle is immense – across thousands of students, it can help suggest specific methods for not only each subject but also, modules and chapters within a subject. With this kind of delivery of educational content targeted towards students, their capacity for learning will increase and their education will be more effective.

AI systems are also trained to identify effective collaboration strategies and select groups that are witnessing difficulties in understanding certain concepts or ideas. AI has the ability to support collaborative learning and suggest groups with similar cognitive level or have complementary skills to help each other in the team.

As a teaching assistant

This kind of technology is helping teachers fill gaps in the existing curriculum and come up with new and interesting teaching methodologies. Students can use applications or interactive education modules provided digitally to supplement and complement their classroom learning. AI can help break down the geographical barriers and provide students access to education, irrespective of their location. Technological advancements in education are also helping students and teachers collaborate easily. Students are able to upload files online, edit them, ask questions to each other, brainstorm and study in a group.

While AI in education heralds a promising future, it definitely cannot replace teachers, as it lacks empathy and self-awareness. Therefore, the assistance that AI provides can be put to good use to make the learning process more productive and efficient, albeit without eliminating educators.

(Published 18 April 2018, 12:19 IST)

Follow us on