When discussing artificial intelligence (AI), it’s hard not to wax philosophically about what intelligence is and what it means to be human. That’s not what we’re here to discuss. We’re going to narrow the scope and look at AI as a computer system that can perform functions that typically require human intelligence such as visual perception, speech recognition and translation, and even decision making. More directly, we’re going to talk about AI in education.
What is Artificial Intelligence in Education
AI in education refers to the use of artificial intelligence – computers that mimic human perception and decision making to complete a task – in the classroom and management of the class and course load. Just like introducing any other technology in education, the goal of AI in education is to improve student learning and offload administrative tasks that take up teacher and administrator time. Let’s dive into some of the current use cases of AI in education.
What are the Current Uses of AI in education?
Artificial intelligence is already in use in education, especially around skills development and assessment or testing systems. Current examples include:
- Grading – Analyzing and grading assignments, tests, and even essays using natural language processing. Companies like Pearson use AI for English testing and placement. AI makes it possible to grade at scale like never before.
- Plagiarism Detection – Not only can AI tools find exact copied text, but they can also analyze inferred meanings and similar sentence structure. Even consumer tools like Grammarly offer plagiarism checkers to help students check their work.
- Recommendation engines – Similar to how Netflix recommends content, recommender systems can suggest specific learning paths based on assessment results or student interests.
- Predictive systems – analyzing large datasets, predictive systems or “early warning systems” help track students and notify school leaders when students are falling behind. 50% of high schools and 90% of higher educational institutions already have such systems in place.
AI in education as well as artificial intelligence generally are still in their infancy. We’ll soon look at what technologists are already working on and consider applications of AI in education that are not yet available today.
How can AI Contribute to Education
When considering assessment, we typically think of grading at scale, not just simple right or wrong responses, but deep analysis of ideas conveyed in essays using natural language processing. AI in education enables teachers to test more than they have before, and this is important. Of course, testing is used to measure student understanding, but it’s also incredibly useful in helping students learn.
I recently returned from SXSW EDU 2022 where I attended a keynote by Dr. Pooja Agarwal called “Powerful Teaching: Unleash the Science of Learning”. The discussion was fascinating in that it discussed studies where they measured the importance of retrieval practice. Over the course of 10 years, they found that introducing quizzes and assessment activities improved student grades from a C level to an A range level. The study also found that students are more apt to remember information they were taught over longer periods of time when they utilized retrieval practice like quizzes.
One of the challenges teachers face by assigning more essays, quizzes, and assessments is that manually reviewing student work takes time. Time is something most teachers don’t have. AI tools can automate the reviewing of student work to provide timely feedback to students. AI can also assist in generating quizzes to help teachers in assessment creation and these quizzes can automatically be personalized to reflect a student’s interest that helps them relate to the core concepts of the assessment.
We’ll explore other examples of how AI in education is used today. Automating tasks and delivering better student outcomes are positive applications of AI in education. There are also valid concerns when considering using AI in education.
Pros & Cons of AI in Education
As we already covered, AI in education can help automate administrative tasks to free up teacher time as well as assist in identifying students at risk of falling behind. However, there are concerns with using AI in education.
One such concern is diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). As Forbes highlights DEI is at the forefront of moral challenges around AI. AI is built on immense sets of data. If that data has implicit bias, then the outcomes of using AI in education will contribute to those biases.
We should also consider those that are authoring the programs around AI applications. Stanford found that on average from 2010-2019, the percentage of white new computing PhDs was 62.7% while Black or African American (non-Hispanic) and Hispanic computing PhDs accounted for just 3.1% and 3.3% respectively over that same period.
By failing to consider diverse populations, AI in education may exclude students and contribute to knowledge gaps and inequality. Many companies and organizations are working to make AI more inclusive by expanding data sets to include diverse populations be that for expanded NLP or improved vision AI.
3 Examples of How AI is Being Used in Education
Outside of task automation and testing, what are some examples of ai in education today?
- Personalized Learning – AI can provide personalized learning to students. Recommendations AI can account for large sets of data to deliver personalized learning that helps students achieve academic success. Recommendations can be based on student interest, level of expertise, speed of learning, and goals. By considering the student’s academic history as well as applying logic based on patterns of similar students, AI can provide curated content and courses to students.
- Universal Access – Online education has provided incredible opportunities for students around the world from remote learning to hybrid learning. MOOC’s provide opportunities for learners to take elite university courses without leaving their room. Limitations have also arisen around making these courses accessible to learners. AI has been able to help make these courses and learning online universal by providing real time transcription and translation, computer vision to identify imagery and visual objects, grading at scale to help with certification, and more.
- 24/7 Tutoring – Tutorbots are one way AI in education make learning engaging even when students don’t have anyone to speak to. AI like those used in chatbots can provide answers to students’ questions by analyzing their language using NLP or even scanning their work with vision AI to ensure their work as well as their answers are correct.
How will AI Improve Education in the Future?
The goal of AI in education is to improve student outcomes – to help students succeed in their academic endeavors. Also important is making education more inclusive and accessible. By automating administrative tasks, teachers can have more time to work with students around tasks that AI isn’t good at. Additionally, by offering education at scale the cost of high-quality education will be reduced, making it accessible to students all over the world from all socioeconomic backgrounds. The ways that AI can improve education are only limited by our collective imaginations.
Will AI Eventually Replace Teachers?
So, are we introducing technology that will replace us? It’s not unimaginable that in 50 years or more (or less) that AI in education will be so advanced that it can take over all the duties of a teacher. Many students today don’t even interact with a teacher opting for fully self-directed learning from home. At that, we get into all sorts of conversations around what does anyone do when everything is automated. The truth is we don’t know. However, one of the main roles of AI in education today is to help automate tasks that can be done by AI so that teachers can work with students in ways that AI cannot. From there, anything is possible.
Kaltura AI Education Solutions
Kaltura is invested in exploring how AI can be applied to video solutions such as using vision AI and recommendation AI to make content easily searchable and content aware for search. Customers today utilize AI for video transcription and translation to automatically transcribe uploaded and recorded videos as well as to translate them for international audiences. REACH extends the “reach” of video content for international audiences, helps increase comprehension and engagement, makes content accessible for users of all abilities, and improves search and discoverability of content.
It sounds like the future, but really the future is now. Whether we realize it or not we use applications that are utilizing AI daily. It can be in the form of tools that check our grammar, entertainment that somehow recommends a song or a movie that we just love, and the social applications that identify our friends automatically in our photos. At its best, AI in education will streamline teacher effectiveness – automating tasks such as reporting and grading, make elite education more available to all students of all backgrounds by making it affordable while still providing student feedback, and making education more accessible by using NLP and vision AI to help learners of all abilities succeed.
Looking for an innovative teaching and learning solution? Try Kaltura Virtual Classroom for free, today.