Not so long SOLVVE was taking a look at how machine learning and artificial intelligence are benefitting eLearning already today. However, machine learning progresses fast and even though some of the applications are still in development, AI can and will change the future of education a lot. In this article, SOLVVE would like to talk about how AI will shift the landscape and change teaching methods and the learning environment.
Virtual Assistance for Teachers and Students
Constantly and instantly available consultant
One of the underlying issues when it comes to teaching is a teacher’s availability for students to answer their questions and clarify the material. From the student’s perspective, there might be such roadblocks as being shy to speak directly to an educator, being afraid to speak and ask in the auditory in front of other students, anxiety about appearing not bright enough for asking tedious questions, etc. Moreover, some of the questions can come to one’s mind long after the class is over.
From a teacher’s perspective, the number of incoming questions and inquiries can be overwhelming. Although questions might be phrased differently, oftentimes they are essentially the same. Thus, educators spend a great deal of their time giving the same commentaries over and over again. One can expect AI to be a positive change in education in terms of teacher’s time and load distribution.
Provided that teachers usually deal with a defined field of knowledge, instead of doing Q&As in class or via mail, institutions could involve AI expert systems to process these requests. It can be done, for example, as a chatbot that is available 24/7 for anyone who needs private clarifications about the material. On the one hand, such a system can provide answers to the most common questions. On the other, it could also collect and process inquiries to see how student progress in general and what aspects of the course are particularly challenging to them.
Assignment assistance and control
There are already several popular tools for both students and teachers that help to automate routine tasks for assignments. For example, Grammarly is a grammar checker that among other things can help with stylistics and tone of voice of one’s writing. On the other hand, many institutions use Turnitin as a plagiarism checking tool for academic works saving professors hours on not having to make sure that someone’s thesis is original enough.
There is also a possibility to oversee an examination or exam setting to make sense of students’ behavior and see if someone is attempting to cheat on their test. The technology allows to track body movements (like in a shoplifting prevention system), eye movements, and other track other indicators that could hint if a student tries to use something else but their knowledge and that is possible to do even through the webcam for online classes.
Similar to Q&A sessions and assignment checking, teachers also dedicate a substantial amount of their time to grade papers and assignments. While this task cannot be fully given away to machines due to a creative element to some of them, some tedious grading is better done by algorithms that are robust to human errors and free of judgments towards students’ performance. Moreover, AI can help to understand the learning dynamics for a single student or for a group to help teachers adjust materials, pace and load.
Online education is not only a trendy business opportunity in times of pandemic. It is also the only way to learn and interact for people who require a special learning environment or a somewhat different approach. Natural language processing capabilities of machine learning are driving a lot of positive changes for such people as well.
Many of us come in touch with it when we are using Google Assistant. However, for those whose physical condition makes it easiest to use voice input instead of typing, this technology is a lifesaver. Used for information and command input as well as voicing the written material, it allows for many talented people to enter the rather robust current education systems and to engage with the classmates at the same pace as well as to promote inclusion, equality, and diversity at the institutions.
Besides an ability to read aloud texts, AI is capable of far more complicated tasks. For example, “Seeing AI” by Microsoft helps people with eyesight challenges to make sense of the world around them by recognizing faces of friends, colors, labels, levels of lights, documents, etc. Many of these are initially carried out by human assistants or service dogs, requiring extra costs for families and governments to provide such help.
Education in multiple languages
The language might be a key barrier for many to obtain desired education or training. Not only because some topics are covered better in certain languages or because some books are never translated, but because teachers are also limited by the number of languages they speak. Of course, having TED talk manually translated and subtitled into multiple languages is great. However, that requires a whole separate platform and thousands of freelancers to process these tasks. And these are only a fraction of the knowledge people around the world could unlock by taking classes from different professors and specialists.
Automated translation systems like Google Translate and automated subtitles generation function on YouTube have been helping people to understand foreign texts for a long time now. However, the real breakthrough would be to have an automated simultaneous (or at least consecutive) interpretation of speech to connect students, educators and the content within a class.
Affordable Personalized Tutoring
Customized learning plans
Currently, the most optimal way to deliver content to the majority of students is to create a set of materials and distribute or teach them to all students in the same way and probably at the same time. However, this is also the least efficient way for many of the students.
Different people have different peak activity times when they are the most productive. The amount and quality of knowledge across the students are not uniform. Thus, someone would prefer to skip what they already know while others require more time to ponder on the material. Form of delivery also matters: readings, lectures, podcasts, interactive gameplay, group work, individual projects, etc. – there is no one-fits-all way to accommodate everyone. That is why there are a lot of expectations for AI to change education towards personalization.
With machine learning, it is possible to not only deliver personalization on spot like language learning apps do but also to focus on the whole curriculum to deliver a highly-personalized – and for that reason the most efficient – curriculum. In the end, the cost of private tutors arises from the very fact, that creating learning plans and tracking the performance of a single student is time-consuming for teachers.
Smart everfresh content
Content design requires not only understanding of teaching methods and approaches, but also lots of time and skills in using tools to deliver presentations, videos, print outs, etc. It is at the same time highly creative, but also highly monotonous when the lesson or a course design part if done it one has to create hundreds of slides to interact with students.
Currently, AI is learning to write poetry and draw pictures (don’t laugh, it’s trying its best). And while it is still quite poor and is still in development, one can expect AI to be able to create content in the future on its own: either by repurposing and reworking the already existing materials or by coming up with something new. Then, by analyzing the performance, AI could decide on the effectiveness of suggested content and adjust it in accordance with personalized learning plans and students’ abilities and interests.
Thus, AI can not only change education by saving a lot of time and effort for both teachers and students, but also by slashing the costs of delivering teaching services.
Due to the rapid digitalization of businesses artificial intelligence and machine learning technology experiences a rise in demand. Now is a good time to incorporate these technologies into your product to stay ahead of the competition and help AI to change education for the better. Thus, if you have any questions or ideas related to the use of AI or ML in your eLearning projects, do not hesitate to contact us. Let us make this happen!