Almost every industry today relies on technology to thrive and evolve, leading to increasing interest and investment to help companies make smarter and faster decisions and products. Artificial intelligence (AI) has established itself in recent years as one of the most exciting technologies to watch for. This emerging technology has already become an important component of many industries such as healthcare, education, defense, transportation, logistics, and farming.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning (ML) are still in the nascent stages in the field of education, but their potential to revolutionise learning cannot be overstated. There are many ways of introducing new forms of learning, especially beyond the constraints of textbooks and typical classroom settings. Here is an example: Children are naturally found to be more curious when they are closer to nature –say while walking in a park or zoo, or leisurely staring at the night sky. Now, imagine an AI-based personal tutor available in their pocket to answer all their questions. More specifically, this tutor precisely knows what the child already knows or does not know based on the previous interactions and answers in appropriate detail. This is the future of personalised learning driven by AI.
The ongoing pandemic has challenged every school and college to relook at the contemporary process of imparting education and embrace more emerging technologies and novel pedagogy models into the overall learning ecosystem. While large-scale standardised tests based on multiple-choice questions are prevalent, there is increasing interest in leveraging AI in more sophisticated applications such as remote exam proctoring and evaluation of subjective answers. As deep tech learning contents using virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) emerge, teachers are increasingly adopting blended learning models such as flipped classrooms, where new contents/concepts are introduced at home and the classroom sessions become more productive and interactive.
Though the pandemic has contributed to the shift towards blended learning, the approach as such is largely driven by technology and proven pedagogy models. This trend is expected to continue and evolve beyond the pandemic.
Currently, many institutions are opting for AI-assisted, chatbot-based learning platforms that allow students to learn at their own pace and time. As cities become more cosmopolitan, it is common to see students with varying skills and expertise sitting together in a traditional urban classroom –making it challenging for the teachers to engage effectively across such a diverse set of students. This is where edtech companies powered by AI address the need for customised learning solutions that adapt to an individual student’s learning style and need. For example, technology- and AI-based learning apps can offer individualised lessons in the form of deep tech contents, adaptive quizzes, live classes, and interactive gamified simulations.
For students, AI and ML can help make learning more experiential and stress-free. Specifically, AI-based tools such as personalised learning paths help students meet their individual learning objectives, by guiding them through a sequence of effective learning contents and matching their learning style. Personalised learning paths and deep tech learning contents such as VR and AR form a great combination that not only makes learning fun but also improves retention and learning outcomes. This set of tools go beyond the traditional assessment and progress reporting, making learning a continuous journey, avoiding stress and anxiety.
As AI-based educational solutions grow, they can fill more gaps in the traditional learning and teaching process. Another area where AI and ML have already begun influencing is in performance assessments and analytics. AI has made it easier to create and analyse progress reports, a task normally performed by instructors. By automating these tasks, faculty can spend more time with students on enhancing the creative and applied aspects of learning. Tools such as the attentiveness index help teachers improve the experience of online classrooms.
Besides leveraging AI and ML as part of the education landscape, their study as a course right from high school education can put one at the forefront of future jobs and help develop better cognitive abilities. The Government of India’s New Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has acknowledged the importance of AI and AI education in schools. These are being planned to be seamlessly integrated into the curriculum and pedagogy as well.
It is clear that both students and educators are immersed in technology, making the education industry ripe for further disruption. As edtech is focusing on harnessing technology to improve educational processes and outcomes for learners and teachers, AI and ML are becoming cornerstones of the overall education ecosystem.
Ilangovel Thulasimani is Co-Founder and CTO of Practically