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AI – a new era in education

DEC 12, 2020 • 8 min read

How this technology is set to revolutionise teaching and learning

Artificial intelligence – AI – is no longer the stuff of science fiction. It’s already changing the way we teach and learn – for the better. It facilitates personalisation at scale based on a deep understanding of how a student learns, then tailoring educational experiences. It also opens students to a wider scope of learning.

It’s no surprise that in US education, AI is expected to increase by 47.5% from 2017-2021. The adoption of AI in schools around the world is growing by leaps and bounds, and although no-one suggests it should replace in-person teaching, it will undoubtedly change the way teachers teach and students learn.

Some history around AI

John McCarthy, Professor Emeritus at Stanford University, explains that AI is the science and engineering of making intelligent machines. The forerunner to these smart machines was built in 1951 by Marvin Minsky, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

You’ll already have seen AI in action: search engines, GPS navigators and self-driving cars are all AI-managed. More and more schools and universities are adopting the technology to enhance teaching and learning, too.

Modern-day AI displays some of the behaviours you’d usually associate with human intelligence – planning, learning, reasoning, problem-solving, perception and social intelligence. It combines these behaviours with the capacity to process vast amounts of data far faster and with less error than a human brain. This gives it the power to help solve problems in almost every area of daily life.

AI in the classroom

AI can improve and enhance education as we know it in an increasingly global environment. Here’s how:

Effective group learning

By analysing student data and behaviour, AI can group students according to personalities, skills and interests, creating pairs or collectives that can study collaboratively. Crimson Global Academy’s (CGA) systems already support this – we stream based on ability, not age, so students are perfectly matched to their learning groups. This ensures no one is held back.

Real data on student participation and engagement

AI solves an age-old problem – teenagers who won’t volunteer updates about their learning, and schools who keep parents at arm’s length. At CGA, we leverage machine learning and AI technology to give parents, students and teachers new classroom superpowers. You get weekly summary emails packed with insight about your child’s time with us, including data on attendance, homework and in-class participation. You’ll be able to understand how much, and in what ways, your child is involved in each class, with trends over time.

Customised individual learning

With 30+ students to manage every day, teachers in traditional bricks-and-mortar classrooms have little or no time to give individual attention. AI can help fill this deficit by tracking student progress, identifying any individual knowledge gaps and offering teachers study recommendations for each pupil. It can also offer extra teaching resources, help with planning and grade homework. Students focussed on math or looking for extra challenges can use an AI that responds to individual study habits and learning levels.

In the future, AI may be able to read a student’s expression – bored, frustrated, confused – and modify a lesson to respond to it. Customising subjects for each student's needs isn’t possible just yet, but it soon will be.

Access to education for all

AI has tools to help all students go further, faster. Those with higher or different learning needs can be better supported – AI unlocks personalised support and tailored programmes. AI speech recognition can also help speakers of other languages access instant translation, and lets students with hearing or visual impairments make use of subtitles or voiced text, for example.

Supporting career pathways

Instead of struggling to decide what career to choose, students can get help from AI, which can offer career predictions based on what they’re studying and what their goals are. It can also identify gaps in student learning for any high school programme or university course, guide students on how to fill those gaps and help instructors manage teaching at different levels so no-one is left behind.

Administration automation

The dull grind of education is in the admin – grading papers, keeping records, taking attendance – and AI is ready to help here too. Close to being able to ‘read’ and evaluate written responses, AI already manages to identify gaps in student learning and takes over other, non-teaching tasks, including records, admissions and enrolment. Teachers are finding they have more time to actually teach and guide students now that so many admin tasks are automated.

Helping students (and their parents) at home

Now parents don’t need to dredge their memories about algebra or physics – AI is there to help students navigate complex ideas in any subject. Whether it’s tutoring or preparing for exams, AI programs are advancing all the time and widening to include different learning methods.

Teachers are often students too, regularly refreshing their subjects to stay on top of new information and teaching methods. AI can mentor, provide smart content and make global conferences not only possible but useful and enjoyable too. AI’s conversational technology can help any student develop critical thinking skills, and high school and college students can get STEM tutoring, customised to their study levels.

Customised study guides

Soon, teachers won’t need to spend hours digesting information for students from hard-to-understand books. AI is advancing so rapidly that study guides customised to each student will soon be available, making life better for teachers and students alike.

Out of the pages of science fiction

Education is rapidly evolving – for the better. With AI playing a bigger role, teachers have more time to spend on individual students’ needs, and students can get help understanding those all-important STEM subjects and anything else they need to learn. Now there are no barriers to learning – AI can create personalisation at scale, helping all students achieve their academic goals faster.

AI is not one thing, but a myriad of possibilities that change and increase every day.

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