What would you do if you had the power to make a machine act like a human brain? I am not talking about only imitating, but understanding, thinking, and even growing the way a human brain does? You have control over this brain, without taking away its freedom to think. You can harness this power in so many different ways - from national defence to a home assistant.
This thought is scary, yet exciting. In the wrong hands, this technology, known as artificial intelligence (AI), is very dangerous. When used for a good cause, like revolutionising the education industry of the world, it can be very beneficial to billions of people.
Education is one of the oldest industries of the world. Currently, in India itself, the education industry is valued at over $100 billion. Ed-tech apps have only made a small blip in this number. Over the next few years, these apps will use the power of artificial intelligence to provide each student with a better, personalised learning experience. So how is AI used in education?
Personalisation of learning
Every student learns in a different way. Some students understand a concept after the teacher has explained it only once. Others need a repeated explanation to remember. Once a concept is understood, some students can apply it faster and better than others. This is why every student needs to be taught in a different way. A typical Indian teacher addresses 35 students at once. For obvious reasons, teachers cannot use 35 different methods to teach the same concept in a class. But with Artificial Intelligence, this is possible. The ed-tech app studies the behaviour of every individual student on the app. Using this, it personalises each student's learning experience. This means, that for quick graspers, an advanced level of teaching is used. Questions asked are tougher. For other students, each concept is explained down to the basics. The app starts with quizzing them on their understanding of basic concepts. It then moves on to application based questions.
Adaptive learning paths
In a classroom setup, a teacher follows a pre-decided flow while covering the syllabus. Moreover, teachers do not have time to revise concepts that students are already expected to know. This means, that if one concept is weak for a particular student, there is a high chance that it will remain weak until the exams approach. Due to lack of time, at the last moment, the student will most probably rote learn that concept instead of taking the time to understand it. When AI is used in an ed-tech app, the application changes the learning path of every student. This is done according to what is best for that particular student. If it notices that the student is weak in a basic concept, it suggests videos and reading material to help strengthen it beforehand. This ensures that students do not rote learn any concept.
Solving doubts on chat:
When a teacher handles a class of over 35 students, it becomes close to impossible to solve the doubts of every student on a daily basis. Over time, these doubts keep getting accumulated. A student does not end up understanding concepts clearly. With AI, ed-tech apps have been able to introduce ‘Doubts on Chat'. Technology, aided by a team of experts help millions of students solve doubts anytime, any day. Most doubts are solved within three minutes. Seems impossible? Here's how it is done: A student clicks a picture of their doubt and uploads it on the chat app. Using Natural language processing, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, the chatbot runs the doubt through its vast database of pre-existing questions. If it finds a similar question, it suggests the solution to the student. If it cannot find any similar questions, it directs the student to a human expert who solves the doubt in real time.
The use of Artificial Intelligence is not restricted to ed-tech apps. When it comes to schools and colleges, teachers are usually overburdened and stressed. They struggle to manage time between conducting lectures, designing tests, and grading assignments. They also have to constantly update themselves on the latest developments in their field. AI can be used to help them with some of their mundane tasks. Coupled with Natural Language Processing, AI can help with grading answer sheets and providing instant feedback to students. This will help teachers spend more time to conduct research. This ensures that they increase their contribution to their field of study. They will also have more time to up-skill themselves with new teaching methodologies.
Feedback to course creators
AI can be used to study student behaviour. It can then map out areas of course content that is effective and ineffective for every student. This will, in turn, provide invaluable feedback to course creators. They can improve the student learning experience at a much faster rate.
To sum up
Over the last few years, digitisation has changed the face of education in the west. They have adopted a blended learning approach. They use technology in classrooms, and ed-tech apps for after school support. This revolution is coming to India. It is helping every child with a mobile phone and an internet connection by providing high-quality personalised education. With Artificial Intelligence, the stage is set for something much bigger.
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About the Author:
Manish Kumar graduated from IIT Bombay in 2006 with a degree in Metallurgical and Materials Science. He then pursued masters in Materials Science Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, USA. Post his graduation, he joined Indian School Finance Company, where he was part of the core team responsible for business strategies and growth. In 2013, he co-founded SEED Schools, a venture focused on improving quality of low-cost K-12 education in India with a vision to make quality education accessible. He is currently Vice President of Product - Learning & Pedagogy at Toppr.com.