How AI is used in education

August 13, 2021 · 7 minute read

Thomas Chung

Growth

TLDR

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already a familiar tool in education but it won’t be long before integration becomes a norm in the school system, helping both teachers and students thrive.

Outline

  • Intro

  • Evolution of technology in education

  • How AI is transforming education

  • Concerns for AI in education

  • Conclusion

Intro

Brace yourself, fall is coming! (Source: HBO)

Brace yourself, fall is coming. Love it or hate it, this means the return of football, pumpkin spice latte, and students going back to school.

Last year, students prepared to head back to school: in person, online (

distance learning

), or a combination of both. 2020 proved to be quite a challenging year for many (to say the least), but there is a silver lining. With everyday processes and norms being challenged, many were determined to explore and find new ways of doing things. Through these tough times came the efforts of global collaboration, resulting in rapid medical advances and technological innovation. Whether it is through traditional or unconventional methods of learning, it is clear that education is a path to innovation and through innovation in education, we can solve the problems of tomorrow.

(Source: Shala Books)

Evolution of technology in education

Anyone remember

hornbooks 

or

magic lanterns

? Probably not, as these were primitive tools for learning developed back in the 17th century (or earlier). You may (or may not) recognize the good ol’ pencil which was invented pre-1800s and the chalkboard later in the 1800s. Then throughout the 1900s came the radio, overhead projector, typewriters, video tapes, the

Skinner Teaching Machine

, photocopier, calculators, and scantrons (which I always failed to find on test days in college). Then came the computer.

The first computer was developed in the 1930s but it wasn’t until the ’80s when IBM introduced the first personal computer. We can’t forget Apple’s Macintosh (better known as Mac) that became available in 1984. Where are my Oregon Trail folks at? Revolutionary to its time.

Why does the Mac have a mouth? Siri-ously. (Source: PCMag)

How AI is transforming education

Classrooms track students with AI cameras and brain-wave monitors in China (Source: WSJ)

With the advancement of technology in education, it wasn’t long before new applications of learning were introduced. Though slow to adopt (but accelerated due to COVID), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) has been gaining much recognition in the educational space. Today, we see the benefits of AI and ML in the following ways:

Customization/Personalization

With the help of AI, students can customize learning programs to meet their own unique preference and needs (e.g.

Mika

,

Third Space Learning

,

Content Technologies, Inc

). AI can incorporate previous learning history to help identify areas for improvement and adapt to students’ level of knowledge, speed, goals, and recognize opportunities to optimize the personalized learning experience.

Tutoring

For students who require extra help outside of the classroom, there are AI tools such as chatbots (e.g.

Botsify

,

iTalk2Learn

) and

Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITS)

that can help students improve their skills and areas in which they may be struggling. Far from being able to replace actual teachers, these AI-powered resources can provide quick one-on-one learning experiences while having the convenience of 24/7 access — wherever you are.

Support for educators

In the same manner AI is beneficial for students mentioned above, it can also enhance the experience for teachers (e.g.

Snatchbot

). Personalization and accessibility can be used in order to supplement the learning experience for students, allowing for better utilization of teaching time.

Outsourced tasks for teachers

AI can also assist teachers by allowing for outsourcing and automating mundane and tedious tasks such as grading papers and essays (e.g.

Copyleaks

), administrative tasks (e.g.

Gradescope

), and lesson planning (e.g.

Teacher Advisor

,

Front Row

). AI can be used as a tool to support, rather than replace teachers so that educators can have more time to focus on core competencies, unique to human capabilities.

Education in AI

Let’s not forget all the opportunities to study and learn about AI and ML, through both formal and informal methods of learning (school, online courses, Youtube, Google, blogs, etc). Whether you want to become a data scientist or develop an AI tool like

Mage

(shameless plug), there are plenty of resources available nowadays.

Concerns for AI in education

As with all advances in technology, there could be a downside to integration of AI with education. There are current concerns for technology addiction and dependencies. Try pulling an iPad out of the hands of a child or a mobile phone from a teen (try this at your own risk!).

There are other concerns involving security, costs/affordability, and like many other industries, the fear of job loss/replacement.

Conclusion

We’ve come a long way in the world of academia, especially so in recent years. AI has managed to make itself known as a game changer in education, among many other industries (e.g.

transportation

,

healthcare

,

art

,

finance

,

gaming

, etc.). There are still some challenges ahead but it’s becoming quite clear that further adoption of AI is imminent. Just remember, you can’t spell EDUCATION without AI.

Interested in adopting AI/ML but not sure exactly how? Let’s talk! Contact us at 

hello@mage.ai

and we can discuss how 

Mage

can help you find practical solutions to achieve your goals through AI/ML technology.

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