Schools have not changed drastically in the past 50 years. Students sit in the same classroom and complete the same assignments using the same textbooks, regardless of their success in a particular subject.
One part of the class does not have time to master the material, while the other quickly goes through it and gets bored. In addition, teachers have to balance administrative work, grading students, assessing learning paths, replying to repetitive questions, and so on.
But in a world of constant change, the education industry couldn’t remain intact from the latest tech advancements. Fortunately, the technology entered the classroom and seemed to be there to fuel eLearning software development. Thanks to AI in education, all stakeholders’ issues can be resolved.
What is AI?
Artificial Intelligence is a way to mimic human behaviors like problem-solving and decision-making with the machine's capabilities. It can process the incoming information and learn from it to solve complex challenges. AI encompasses robotic process automation, machine learning, and natural language processing (NLP).
Many people imagine human-like robots taking over the world and leaving humanity behind. However, AI is not meant to replace humans in the first place. It’s to expand human capabilities and improve how they perceive the world around them. Therefore, technology has become a valuable business asset that gives a pack of competitive advantages.
Advanced features fuel the demand for Artificial Intelligence in education. The new research report by Global Market Insights states that its global market size exceeded $1 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach $20 billion by 2027. Rising demand for AI-powered EdTech solutions in the USA has influenced the market, estimated to grow by USD 253.82 million from 2021-2025. Technavio provides the data.
The place of AI in the education market looks relatively stable. After almost two years of turbulence and uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, many have recognized the importance of the new technology to ensure the continuity of education and other equally important parameters.
However, a rapid shift to online learning due to a massive closure of schools showed substantial gaps in ICT tools adoption. For instance, McKinsey found it disclosed that almost 40% of students from low-income households didn’t have access to online learning.
These findings reveal that the interest in technology is likely to be high through the next couple of years. As educational establishments and education technology companies have strong confidence in AI, it is interesting to see where it is heading and which other challenges it is ready to address. Yet, there are many challenges to solve to make traditional learning efficient amidst changing times and times of uncertainty.
Challenges of the traditional education process
- Low learner engagement. Outdated learning practices that have been around for decades create certain obstacles for students of all ages. Among them is unsupportive school culture, lack of diverse subject options, negative relationships with peers and teachers. This affects student motivation and morale and lowers engagement as students seldom decide on things while at school. Despite having advanced eLearning tools, widespread learner engagement isn’t happening. The pandemic has triggered concerns of educators as students report deteriorating morale in the 2020-2021 school year. Only 24% of them say they have the same confidence level as before the pandemic. A staggering half of the respondents state that their enthusiasm and motivation are lower than before the Covid-19 pandemic.
Educators need to reinvent the traditional learning process to combat the issue, and advanced technologies can come to the rescue. But technology alone can’t boost engagement. In practice, educators need to align various tools they use as part of the education process with the interests and necessities of their students.
- Numerous administrative tasks for teachers. Teachers carry out more than 20 different administrative tasks apart from teaching and managing a classroom. For example, they have to deal with collecting money, producing class lists, administering exams, ordering supplies, and so on. As a result, teachers’ stress and burnout have become significant issues, especially after the pandemic. Another EdWeek Research Center survey suggests that a quarter of teachers in the US public schools think about leaving their job because of stress at work. Respondents also point to the substantial gap between the way principals and teachers assess the situation with administrative burdens. Many think that administrators need to take precautionary measures to secure teachers from job-related stress. Still, there is much to be done as the education system is slow to adapt to teachers’ needs.
- A unified approach to teaching. A traditional classroom is still unequipped with tools and methodology to cater to students with unique learning styles. While some of them are ok with noting down lectures and studying independently, others may struggle with digesting the material without individual mentoring. A one-size-fits-all approach to education limits the potential of each student. It fails to create an environment that emphasizes their interests and talents while keeping the entire classroom connected and engaged. Instead, the traditional classroom teaches our kids the same way, and there is still a slight change in that approach.
- Lack of one-on-one attention. Overcrowded classrooms have become a new normal for the traditional education system. As a result, teachers cannot cater to each student and monitor their progress with the subject. Students have to work in groups most of the time or practice new material individually. The effectiveness of this approach is questioned most of the time, but it is hard to change the current state of things. Lack of individual attention to specific students impairs their academic performance and success in real life. Fortunately, through AI in the education industry, teachers can predict students’ future academic performance at risk and detect those who can drop out or score low.
Now, let's explore other essential things that can be achieved through AI in eLearning. It can potentially combat the issues mentioned above and help the education sector adapt and evolve with time. Here’s how technology can benefit both students and teachers and address the most crucial points.
Benefits of AI in eLearning for Students and Educators
- One-on-one tutoring. There is growing excitement about the potential of AI to support struggling students and those who require additional support outside the classroom. For example, teachers can hardly provide interactive and personalized responses on-demand, as they have significant time constraints. But thanks to AI in education, the technology can assist students and teachers and resolve that issue.
Having recognized the impact of AI on that aspect of education, Google launched a new tutoring solution in late 2021. It uses Artificial Intelligence to generate personalized activities for students based on their individual needs and learning styles. The tech giant is also willing to create a powerful AI engine to help students gain the skills and experience to earn enough college and university credits.
If we put these brave goals aside, we can see that AI-powered machines have also earned recognition from local schools. For example, more than 800 US schools have already adopted an AI reading program named Amira. It is an avatar showing up on a screen that monitors several literacy skills at once. Accessible outside of the traditional classroom and contributed to literacy rates growth amidst the pandemic.
- Improved learning experiences. What if each student could have a personal assistant that could answer any question at any moment? That is no longer a mere fantasy as it can be achieved through AI in online education. Backed by Machine Learning, such applications don’t just provide answers to generic questions but rather analyze learning styles and make suggestions on improving the outcomes.
Cognii is an AI-driven virtual teaching assistant, which employs conversational technology to guide students, give instant support, and provide real-time feedback. It can become a godsend for students who feel much better typing the question than asking it during the lecture. Besides, it can provide additional information about a lesson or a course, especially in an online learning format.
- Accessibility. Do you remember how difficult it was to catch up with the material when you missed a class due to illness or for some other reason? Or did you lack additional information about that fascinating history class? The good news is that now AI can break down these barriers of traditional education and improve accessibility.
The platforms like Nuance deliver speech recognition software, creating subtitles for each lecture and enhancing word recognition. The solution targets those who might have visual or hearing impairments or those who’ve missed the class. It can transcribe 160 words per minute.
- Personalized and adaptive learning. It is easy to imagine a busy teacher trying to cater to 30 or even 40 students in one classroom. Luckily, digital platforms that use AI can help identify struggling students and those likely to drop out. That can enable teachers to customize the curriculum or modify a particular lesson for one student.
Many prominent companies have already rolled out AI-powered machines to complete those goals. Among them is a Carnegie Learning tool that focuses on learning students’ facial expressions to improve studying mathematical concepts.
Another program is delivered by Knewton, an adaptive learning technology provider. Their advanced solution caters to higher education students and helps identify knowledge gaps. Consequently, educators can use its insights to adjust course materials for each student.
- Real-time feedback. It is hard to argue that students need to receive timely and honest feedback from their teachers to progress. However, if a teacher communicates generic or critical feedback, it can negatively affect learners and cause stress.
Thanks to AI in eLearning and a traditional classroom, it is possible to deliver immediate feedback to individual students. That enables them to identify problem areas and adjust their approach to learning. But, on the other hand, that saves time, which teachers can allocate to other important tasks.
AI-powered tools are increasingly being used in online learning nowadays. Unlike human instructors, a virtual assistant is devoid of criticism because it only shows accurate data based on the input. For instance, the previously mentioned assistant provided by Cognii employs the NLP technology to enable automatic assessment of students' answers and provide instant feedback in a private message.
- Predictive analysis. When it comes to analyzing each student’s academic performance, strengths, and weaknesses, educators can find it rather time-consuming. Moreover, the efficiency of the collected information is also questionable as it doesn’t help identify patterns or generate insights straightaway. On the other hand, some examples of Artificial Intelligence in education prove that intelligent machines can instantly analyze tons of identical data and highlight trends in it.
For example, Kidaptive predicts academic performance by identifying the weaknesses and strengths of each student. It uses sophisticated AI algorithms to help educational institutions collect the data and make it actionable. Thus instructors can decide on a course of action without spending too much effort on digging into the data.
- Task automation. As we already mentioned, teachers and instructors have to handle the burden of repetitive tasks every day. However, by deploying AI technology in education, much of the mundane tasks can be eliminated. Consequently, the academic staff will have the opportunity to try more creative and equally important roles. For example, they can focus on professional development or building connections with principals, teachers, parents, and students.
AI-powered algorithms are used for task automation in the following ways:
- for Q&A. AI-powered chatbots can save educators' time by answering generic and repetitive questions. One example is the Let’s Talk assistant. It is an AI chatbot that serves students and parents by answering common questions around the clock.
- for planning lessons. Educators can leverage AI to plan the curriculum and easily include video- and audio-based content and personalized tasks for each student. One such example of that kind is the Netex Learning web platform, which simplifies daily planning routines for teachers.
- for daily attendance tracking. It is hard to imagine a school that doesn’t track the attendance of its students. This administrative task is obligatory for teachers and support staff. Luckily, it can be automated with AI tools. For instance, a Smartidentification face recognition solution serves that goal. It is an AI-based tool, which uses Machine Learning algorithms to mark the attendance of students and teachers.
- for automatic grading. AI platforms can streamline the process of grading students and checking tests and quizzes. For instance, Century Tech and IntelliMetric are the two prominent platforms that use AI to grade all kinds of homework assignments automatically. Tools like these enable teachers to focus on engaging with students instead of finding the right time frame for the task.
In this article, we’ve discussed the significant aspects of using AI in the education industry. Given the pace at which modern society is changing, this advanced technology is one of the most promising niches worth investing in these days.
With AI in education, traditional learning formats can easily add missing parts. Students can get new knowledge, gain answers to pending questions, and complete tasks anywhere. They can discuss things with a virtual assistant and clarify the homework in another chat with a human teacher.
On the other hand, AI algorithms can help teachers automate and optimize daily tasks. It lets them focus on what matters and removes stress from overwork. As the technology matures, we’ll see improved learning outcomes and new benefits for all educators.
Hopefully, this piece answered the question of “how can AI be used in education?” If you have any questions concerning this type of EdTech software or need assistance from experienced developers, we are here to help.
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