We've all heard it: AI has the potential to transform education.
Thanks to self-learning algorithms, every aspect of the traditional learning environment is up for improvement. Whether the classroom continues to be a physical or a virtual space, AI will play an important role in improving student outcomes.
But how exactly is AI changing education?
Below, weâ€™re describing five ways in which educational institutions are using AI to reach their students and improve the learning process.
1. AI Chatbots for Student Support
Chatbots are getting better and better at conversations with humans every day thanks to AI. Thanks to machine learning algorithms, they search for meanings and patterns in usersâ€™ messages and provide helpful answers.
This functionality has many applications in education, with student support being a major one. An AI chatbot can play the role of a teaching assistant, online support agent, and content distributor.
As a teaching assistant, a chatbot can answer an unlimited number of student questions via the schoolâ€™s website. Educators can configure the chatbot to have answers for a set of common questions their students might have about class, homework, school, etc.
Perhaps the best example of such a chatbot is â€œJil Watson,â€ a virtual teaching assistant developed at Georgia Tech. It was developed to help students get help at the class message board, which was overfilled with repetitive, simple questions.
2. Curating Learning Materials for Personalization
With education now becoming increasingly paperless, managing course materials is finally possible. This opportunity has unlocked another exciting AI feature: the customization of learning materials based on a student profile.
Over the course of their academic career, a student creates a lot of digital content in the form of term papers, class texts, and homework assignments. Although itâ€™s hard for teachers to remember everything, AI can process that content to form a studentâ€™s profile as a learner.
The profile would contain historical data on the most preferred material, the highest grades, and types of assignments. An AI algorithm can process this information about a studentâ€™s preferred learning mode, experience, ability and customizes learning materials based on the input.
For example, AI can spot that a student prefers writing assignments and might require more of them to improve their learning experience. The educator can learn about this finding and work on personalizing course materials.
3. AI Assignment Grading
AI algorithms are becoming a common way to grade student essays, research papers, tests, and other assignments. Developing such technology is a long and complicated process, but the result can save teachers hundreds of hours spent grading such works.
How does an AI algorithm learn how to grade? It processes essays and tests graded by teachers. They look for similar patterns and features, identify them, and later scan new student submissions for them.
The features and patterns range from the essentials like grammar and spelling to complex factors such as argument flow, sentence structure, and word choice. According to the algorithmâ€™s structure, it gives each of these factors an overall score.
AI scoring covers most grading factors, but it can flag an essay for a human review if it encounters something it doesnâ€™t understand. In this case, professional checking could be done with Classy essay or SupremeDissertations to ensure manual proofreading and editing.
Some assignments, such as GRE essays, will need human grading at this point, but itâ€™s clear that the reality of advanced AI grading apps is quickly approaching.
4. Teaching Academic Research Skills
Academic research and writing are two key skills for students. Theyâ€™re also fairly difficult to master, given the time required to find and evaluate scholarly content. In fact, students spend about 23 percent of their time searching for and reading scientific papers.
But finding materials for essays and research papers is becoming easier, thanks to AI. Semantic Scholar is one of the best examples. Itâ€™s an AI-enabled scientific paper research engine that generates quality results with summaries for quick research.
â€œSearch engines like Semantic Scholar can help high school, college, and university students,â€ says Estelle Liotard, an educational writer and journalist from TopEssayWriting. â€œThey can help speed up academic research and evaluation of scholarly writing.â€
Another great advantage is the lower information load. Semantic Scholar uses Natural Language Processing (NPL) AI model to generate quick summaries for each search result. This means that the user doesnâ€™t have to access the source to understand if itâ€™s useful for their research.
5. Teaching Languages in an Immersive Classroom
When used in combination with other technologies, AI can do marvelous things for language classes. One example is the so-called â€œimmersive classroomâ€ – a 360-degree virtual environment powered by virtual reality.
Immersive classrooms are already a reality – MIT Technology Review described an immersive classroom in use at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Students use it to â€œteleportâ€ themselves on the streets of other countries and interact with people.
Source: MIT Technology Review
The environment is basically a digital projection of a scene, and it adapts to the participantsâ€™ actions and words. For example, an AI speech recognition algorithm receives the signal from the microphones worn by the students to learn what interests them the most during the session.
All participants can also speak with characters in the projection. As the MIT article described, Chinese language students could bargain with street vendors and order food in a restaurant – each avatar in the simulation can respond thanks to the environmentâ€™s AI capabilities.
Itâ€™s easy to imagine this technology becoming widespread thanks to the immersive element it provides! So, big changes might be coming to many schools teaching foreign languages.
Digital Education and AI: Summary
AI in education saves time, personalizes content, provides an immersive learning environment, and even grades essays. At this time, weâ€™re at a tipping point, with the technology adoption accelerating amid concerns about bias, effectiveness, and privacy.
By helping teachers and students in these five and many more other ways, AI will become a norm in education. With virtually every aspect of the traditional learning environment up for innovation, we should see even more exciting AI use cases very soon.