How can AI revolutionise education as we know it?

There are numerous avenues where tech can improve efficiency in the classroom

For many years, experts have forecast incredible changes to the world with the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) and its widespread assimilation. Admittedly we’re not quite at the point where some futurists would like the world to be, but there’s no doubt that smartphone personal assistants, intelligent parking sensors and the like are integrating AI one step at a time. One area that’s still to be revolutionised by AI is the education sector. Although it’s unrealistic to suggest that the next generation of pupils will be taught by a robot, there’s no doubt that computer intelligence will help both students and teachers get more out of schooling in the years to come. Here are just some of the ways AI could transform education in all demographics.

Automation of marking and grading

There’s no doubt that some of the most time-intensive tasks for teachers are marking and grading. This time could be used to spend working one-to-one with students, preparing for future classes and even enhancing their own professional development. That’s why AI must surely be an option to automate marking and grading for homework and tests. It can already be used for multiple choice tests, but future developments should enable essays and other heavily-worded papers to be similarly marked, allowing teachers to focus firmly on activities during classroom sessions.

 it will be essential that institutions maintain the highest levels of security when using automation for their grading

However, with so much at stake in terms of accurate marking and student data, it will be essential that institutions maintain the highest levels of security when using automation for their grading. The onus will be on schools to provide sufficient training for teachers to spot SaaS application phishing attacks, which may be used to capture staff login credentials by disguising themselves as service providers log-in pages or similar. This would create unwanted opportunities for malicious data editing and, worse still, data loss and compromise of sensitive personal information.

Adaptive learning software 

Whether your child is just starting school or you yourself are sitting down to take a continued education course, AI will eventually have a granular impact on the learning and development of each student. Through individualised learning programmes, AI will be able to recognise problem areas of certain subjects for learners, place greater emphasis on teaching and practice on these topics and help students to master those trickier subjects at their own pace. Adaptive learning programmes are already in existence, with online education portals such as Khan Academy already utilising these to the benefit of their online students. Adaptive learning software could also give teachers more time to offer help and support when needed. It would also allow pupils to undertake classes with friends, regardless of skill level, as the software can tailor learning on a pupil-by-pupil basis. Thus, negating that feeling of the inferiority complex.

Evolving the way research is conducted

The traditional trip to a school library to carry out research for a group project or individual assignment could be about to transform (even more) too. The library has already undergone a shift from being a location for someone to find physical books and journals to a service that people use to obtain online access to e-books, journals, digitised manuscripts and more that can be viewed on digital devices. AI also has the potential to improve the efficiency of student research. Machine learning could enable a pupil to ask a machine to analyse a piece of content from a book and provide an informed answer to their study question – without the need to read the book themselves. Students won’t need to spend hours trawling the library for relevant books to back up an essay argument; machines will be able to find the right book, or even a relevant paragraph discussing their essay topic in a matter of seconds. Andrew Ng of Stanford Business School labelled AI ‘the new electricity’ last year. The real challenge for libraries will be to design an intelligent information system that combines AI with the talents of library staff and scholars to support student learning, critical inquiry and knowledge creation.

One thing is for certain, the world of education will look a whole lot different even 10-20 years from now. Embracing technology and its capabilities should hopefully be for the benefit of pupils and staff combined.