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AI in education

Personalised learning, universal access and smart tutoring should be on the agenda of the new normal education and AI-driven tools are there to enhance the teaching-learning experience

A K GHOSH | New Delhi |

It may sound nagging that Covid-19 has created the largest disruption of the education system in history affecting an estimated 1.6 billion learners across the world. But the fact of the matter is that coronavirus has come to stay for a long time. Hopefully, technology rushes in where man fears to tread. The entire education sector has been seeing for a decade or so remarkable uses of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies. It is high time that we reap their benefits in both teaching and learning technologies. AI may be embraced as an enhancement of human thinking and augmentation to the educational process.

Robots can produce digital content of a quality akin to what different service providers can create. Smart content includes virtual content, too, like video conferencing. AI systems are already using traditional syllabi to create customized textbooks for certain subjects. Textbooks have been digitized and new learning interfaces created to help students at all stages. Cram101 can use AI to make textbook content more comprehensible whereas Netex Learning can enable teachers to create an electronic curriculum.

The role of AI is significant in creating adaptive teachinglearning techniques. With its advanced applications, educators can set contents as per the local requirements of the learners in different parts of the country. Education can be offered through virtual contact like lectures, video conferencing, etc. Teachers would not exactly be replaced; they would be in a position to perform much better by offering personalised recommendations to students. They may be able to condense lessons into smart study guides and flashboards.

Through machine learning, adaptive programs can be developed that can cater to individual needs of students. AI is being applied in all levels of technology. So, in the education sector, various AI-powered applications may help students in assessing customised responses in getting their doubts cleared from teachers. It can help in playing a role in designing personal conversation and educational assistants who can help in assignment tasks. The voice assistant could allow students to converse with educational materials of teachers ~ rather than traditionally printed handbooks or complicated websites for assistance with their educational needs.

AI can automate basic activities in education such as grading. Teachers can be enabled to automate grading for almost all kinds of MCQ and fill-inthe- blank testing. Automated grading of students may also be easily done. Students could get additional support from AI tutors. Some tutoring programs based on AI can help students through basic mathematics, writing and other subjects. Students and educators both may be given helpful feedback through AI-driven programs. It may allow students to get support from teachers who, in turn, would be able to find areas where they can improve instructions for the students.

AI can change the role of the teacher. AI systems may be programmed to provide expertise for the students to ask questions and get information or could even take the place of teachers for providing basic course materials. It could offer students a way to experiment and learn in a relatively judgement free environment, especially when AI tutors can offer solutions for improvement.

AI powered education may equip students with fundamental IT skills. A wide range of courses may be made available online and students might be enabled to learn from wherever they are. AI technology will improve IT processes and impart in them new proficiencies. Educational applications like Thinkster Math, Brainly, Content Technologies, MaTHiaU and Netix Learning may be applied to improve learning and skill development of students and the educators’ performance as well.

In January 2019, the Wall Street Journal carried an article highlighting how some higher education institutions can use machine learning to infer prospective students’ level of interest in attending classes. Schools can utilize machine learning in students’ guidance. They may help them automatically schedule their course loads and recommend courses and career paths. The institutions can use the data about students to give them timely financial support. Instructional support to them may involve creating systems that respond to an individual’s programs. Software relating to education can assess students’ progress and recommend or deliver specific parts of e-courses for students to review, or additional resources to consult. These are, in fact, personalised learning platforms for serving remedial students, advanced students and students with special needs.

An intelligent tutoring system may be able to understand, in the same way as human tutors, the style of learning preferred by students. Even immersive experience can be created which is required to get students hooked to their classes. In this regard, game technique and simulation can play a major role. AI technology can make it easy for educators to keep track of how well or poorly the students are performing with the help of data that can be handled by a machine. It might also be possible to scan the students’ facial expressions, which can help in changing the lessons depending on their needs. AI can provide opportunities for students who speak different languages or have visual or hearing problems. Presentation Translator is an AI-based solution that can create subtitles in real time mode to make students learn in their native language.

AI technology may enable human capabilities ~ understanding, reasoning, planning, communication and perception ~ to be undertaken by software effectively and at a lower cost. As this technology is computer based, it can be connected to different classrooms all over the globe, thus fostering greater cooperation, communication and collaboration among institutions and nations. Whereas managing a large class of students makes personalised learning unfeasible, AI can provide a level of differentiation that customises learning specifically to an individual student’s weaknesses and strengths.Affective Robot Tutor Integrated Environment (ARTIE) in Spain is playing a role in identifying the emotional state of a student through keyboard stroke and mouse action, and by running an algorithm that chooses the proper intervention required to give personalised educational support to a student. There is also potential for AI to improve the enrolment and admission process. AI can provide comprehensive information to teachers which can help them improve their learning of complex programming techniques. When combined with curriculum and programs, AI can become a purposeful tool. With the right educators using it, AI can do wonders. Personalised learning, universal access and smart tutoring should be on the agenda of the new normal education and AIdriven tools are there to enhance the teaching-learning experience.

The writer, a former Associate Professor, Department of English, Gurudas College, Kolkata is presently with Rabindra Bharati University