Artificial Intelligence for Education Systems


“The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change -” this quote by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus stands very apt in explaining the current situation of the world (Heraclitus,1700). With the present advancement in technology things are constantly evolving, we are now already stirring from automation age to age of cyber-physical systems– the fourth industrial revolution (Peter, 2016). Mckinsey’s 2017 global report states, by the year 2030, approximately around 375 million people will have to change jobs, this is almost 15% of the total global workforce (Manyika et al, 2017). Automation technologies like artificial intelligence and robotics will automate 30% work from 60% of total occupations. However, like the previous industrial revolutions, the fourth industrial revolution will also generate more jobs than it will take (Peter, 2016). While there will be enough jobs created to ensure full employment, it will come with its new challenges. Most of the jobs will require acquiring of a new skill or even attainment of higher education (Peter, 2016). With this whirlwind of changes happening around us, the question that one asks is, how do we prepare for this change? The answer to this remains in our education system itself (Manyika et al, 2017).  While the job market is changing at a very fast pace and is demanding newer and more focused skills, our education systems still links to teaching models that are embedded in the 19th century (Manyika et al, 2017).

Although our education system has evolved over time, most of its fundamentals still come from the historical system. Few of its methods and techniques still hold accurate for today’s time, but most of them like teaching materials, the way of evaluating students, etc have become outdated (Siau, 2017). However, the inadequacies of the current education system don’t end there. In the year 2017, a survey conducted by Mckinsey put light on the fact that nearly half of the young graduates feel the disconnect between their education and their job, it also reflected the fact that almost 39% of hiring population showed concern about skill shortage in entry level job candidates. However, in the same survey conducted by Mckinsey 70% education institutes believed new graduates were ready for work (Manyika et al, 2017). This clearly describes the gap between our education system and the requirements of the market. Therefore, in order to stay relevant in this changing time and to further not elongate the gap between education systems and job market it is essential to alter the face of our education systems. Interestingly besides being a reason for propelling a change in the education systems, Artificial Intelligence will also play an important role in structuring this change. In this article, we will talk about Artificial Intelligence and the changes it can bring to education systems to match with the changing workforce. What is Artificial Intelligence? The term Artificial Intelligence was coined in the year in 1956 by John McCarthy- The Father of AI. He describes Artificial Intelligence as a branch of computer science focused on enabling machines to think and make decisions like humans (McCarthy,1970). Artificial Intelligence has the ability to analyze a high volume of data using quick and intelligent algorithms and then allowing itself to learn from it (Negnevitsky, 2005).

The success of artificial intelligence is determined by how machines carry out tasks that typically require human intelligence (Boden, 1977). In the past two decades, the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has seen remarkable progress, various new techniques have been developed and improved (Wylie, 2016). Few of the divisions of AI that have proven to be successful in various applications of AI around us are Deep learning, Machine Learning, Cognitive computing, Neural Network, Natural Language processing (Negnevitsky, 2005). All these techniques have been explained in brief below. Machine Learning Machine learning is a branch of Artificial Intelligence which focuses on algorithms that additionally allow machines to self-learn from every task that it performs (J Young et al, 2018). This gives the system the ability to learn and update itself from the data available. (Negnevitsky, 2005). This learning capability help systems perform more efficiently and effectively, over time (Negnevitsky, 2005).

Deep Learning

Deep Learning is an aspect of Artificial Intelligence which helps the system to analyze and synthesize complex data. It’s a method that helps the computers learn and understand the skill that come to humans naturally: learning by example (LeCun et al, 2015). The areas in which deep learning can be of significant help are image recognition, and speech recognition. Cognitive Computing Cognitive computing is a technique in Artificial Intelligence which enables the computer to perform tasks like a human (Coccoli, 2016). It helps system process vast amount of data and gives suitable answers to a question, like a human would do. Natural Language Processing (NLP) As the name suggests Natural Language Processing is a technique that enables computers/systems to understand and process human languages (Snyder, 2015). Natural language processing can be programmed to understand and process languages from all around the world (Snyder,2015). ?Neural Network Neural Network is an artificial Intelligence process which comprises of different units interconnected like neurons. This interconnected neural network processes data by responding to the respective input and relying on the information exchange between each unit (Murat, 2015). This technique involves processing information multiple times to discover patterns or association which will give meaning to data that is otherwise open-ended (Murat, 2015). Computer Vision. Computer Vision is an area of artificial intelligence that specializes in understanding visual contents like images and videos by implementing deep learning to identify patterns (Margret,2012). This technique is used for, event detection, video tracking, object recognition, learning, indexing, motion estimation, and image restoration (Margret,2012).

How can Artificial Intelligence help in changing the Education System?

The digital age brought a big change in the way of learning in the education system. The world wide web gave rise to massive open online courses (MOOCs) (Osvaldo, 2012). The MOOCs provided the education system connectivity and convenience (Osvaldo, 2012) (James, 2012). If the concept of MOOCs is combined with artificial intelligence, we can also achieve a high level of efficiency and satisfaction, something that the current education system lacks (Osvaldo, 2012). If educational data mining and analytics are utilized to their full potential its can be great contribution for making individualistic training a reality. Compared to the traditional classroom this way of learning is not only flexible in terms of timing and choice of content but also it is mostly free (Osvaldo, 2012). This solution can provide to significant financial benefit to students from USA, where the cost of education is pretty high compared to other nations. Besides offering cost benefits, MOOCS can also be a breakthrough in reaching every part of an emerging nation like India, which is going to be impacted the most by the global workforce change (Manyika Et Al, 2017). For example, At Coursera (Online platform for learning) almost 50% of students are from developing countries between the age of 25-45, and the platform is serving them in gaining new skills for a better job or for some their first jobs (Manyika Et Al, 2017).

MOOCs armed with artificial intelligence can prove to be a promising channel for distribution of education at the scale at minimal cost. Expectantly it will also play an essential role in easing the future workforce transition. Besides online education, traditional channel of education like universities and colleges will also have to go through major changes to keep up with the dynamic labor market. Artificial Intelligence will play in important role in bringing these changes in the system. Listed below are major areas were Artificial intelligence can create significant impact in the field of education 1.Reducing the administrative workload: The future workforce analysis shows that the most asked for skill in the time of smart machines will be related to technology, but human skill sets like teamwork, creativity, communication, social and emotional skill will also be of utmost importance (Manyika Et Al, 2017). Hence, the efforts of the teacher in the classroom will have to more focused on transmitting more human skills in students. In order to help the teacher do that, the first impact that AI will have on education systems will be on automating administrative work (Pressey, 1932).

In the field of education, grading can take up a significant amount of time which otherwise can be used in doing other activities like interacting with students, building content to teach and putting efforts in personal development (Pressey,1932). Even though this kind of workload is taken care of by the teacher’s assistants, training them is a task that repeats every year or even every semester which can also be taken care by Artificial Intelligence eventually. Grading essays and long answers are not something that can be automated efficiently using Artificial Intelligence, but Grading MCQs or fill in the blank kind of questions can be easily done by Artificial intelligence currently (Verma M,2018). 2. Creating a more personalized syllabus for each student. A well know education Psychologist, Benjamin Bloom proved through his research that one-on-one teaching technique can significantly improve the knowledge retained by students (Bloom, 1984). Even though teachers are aware of differentiated learning abilities of students, but due to the total number of students in a class, the amount of customization a teacher can make for each student is limited (H Hagras, et al. 2017). Over several years,even though some progress has been made towards providing personalized education to students, many existing classrooms are still incapable of engaging students or in offering them choices (Wylie, 2016). With Artificial Intelligence we can achieve the goal of creating an education system as effective as one on one tutoring (Wylie, 2016).

The ability of Artificial Intelligence to capture and process data and allow itself to learn from it can be of great use for adaptive learning (Brunsilovsky, 2002). This addition gives the flexibility to focus on the specific needs of the students, helps to work on their doubts and also develop their strengths further. With the help of artificial intelligence, the course content and pace can be varied for every student present in the classroom. The goal is to make AI work like a personal mentor for every student (Brunsilovsky, 2002). For example, if a student has an aptitude for understanding the visual content better, the given concept can be taught to him/her using interesting visuals. Example 2: If a student has an aptitude for math and calculus, the beginners level lecture can be skipped to teach him/her intermediate level concepts. Few websites are already using this to explain math concepts using learner’s personal life examples and stories. 3. Create efficient Feedback model The way AI can help to revolutionize the existing feedback model in education is by killing the wait time between student’s submissions and teachers remarks. AI can give instant feedback to the students, which can help them in correcting their mistakes while doing the assignment (Ritanjali,2018).

These methods can be further evolved using Artificial intelligence techniques like machine learning and computer vision. These techniques can be used to analyze data captured during the class to give useful insights to the teacher. One of the examples is, if a large number of students give incorrect answers for a certain question, it implies that the concept was not clearly taught in the class. Teachers can use this data to work on their teaching techniques. Vice versa, teachers can monitor students’ performance for different subjects and determine his strengths and weaknesses. 4. Make syllabus smart and Interactive In the time of smartphones and laptops learning from textbooks is outdated. Another major issue with textbooks is, it is very difficult to update them. With the world rapidly changing with time, there is a desperate need for a solution with which syllabus can be updated easily (J Manyika Et Al, 2017). It is also crucial that the syllabus is adapted to changing needs of the job market, especially for the nations that are in the forefront of bringing these changes at the first place. AI can help in organizing and synthesizing content using deep learning to creating Smart Syllabus for learners (Verma,2018). It can also be personalized according to the learner’s preferences, cognitive understanding and aptitude. The smart syllabus will also allow to further auto-update itself with time by studying the market and learner’s behavior. 5. Create a Global Virtual Learning Environment For the present generation technology is an extension to themselves. They are dependent on technology for their personal and also learning needs. A virtual learning environment is a collaborative virtual space where students can meet other students to interact and work together (World Economic Forum, 2016).

A virtual environment can be equipped with tools that enable the management of online resources, student tracking, assessment, and access to resources. Creating a global virtual learning environment can give students access to rich resources from all over the world(Siau et al, 2016). It can enable them to connect with peers and subject experts from all over the world, by breaking down the constraints of walls of a classroom (World Economic Forum, 2016). A virtual Learning environment can enhance the learning experience of students by use of technology like 3D virtual reality to provide interactive learning. The virtual classroom can also use AI to determine learner’s preferences and interests to create content that is more engaging and enjoyable to them (Verma,2018). 6. Encourage lifelong learning With the constantly changing world, keeping oneself relevant, by constantly learning new in- demand skills is challenging (Peter, 2016). This requires learners to always keep updating themselves with the latest knowledge of their industry (Peter M, 2016). It is not always possible for learners to rejoin schools to update themselves with new skills. Therefore, in order to let learners acquire new skills as they go about their professional journey, it is important to enable and encourage lifelong learning in our education system. This can be made possible by using AI.

By regularly assessing their skills learners can access the latest syllabus that matches their requirement. Countries like Singapore are already encouraging to lifelong learning through “Skill Future Initiative”, The government of Singapore offers its young thriving workforce a cash reward of 400$ to update their skills through online courses (Manyika Et Al, 2017). Conclusion The prediction that AI will take over our lives in the future might seem overwhelming or even scary to some. Even trusted tech leaders like Elon Musk believe AI can be more dangerous than a nuclear weapon. But, like every great invention in the past, AI will have its positives and negatives. It’s up to us as a civilization to decide how to use it for the benefit. It’s only possible to do that if we update ourselves with skills that will make us be the master of AI rather than let AI be our master. It’s an irony that it’s Artificial Intelligence that is going to help us achieve that state. If the methods suggested in this paper are in some way integrated with how we consume knowledge now, we might be able to prepare ourselves for the change that is standing upon us in the future. After all, the only thing we can do is accept and get ready for change since change is the only thing constant.

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