While there is growing concern about artificial intelligence (AI) and privacy, there’s one area where AI seems to be picking up steam—education. AI is growing at a rapid rate in the education industry as companies that specialize in tutoring and even traditional textbook publishers get on board.
Why Artificial Intelligence?
It’s called adaptive learning and it’s designed to give students a personalized experience. AI is great at developing algorithms based on patterns it recognizes across sets of data. AI is useful in education because it can identify the gaps in a student’s understanding.
Because each student is different, AI allows a customized course of instruction that will get each student to mastery or understanding in the most efficient matter. For instance, if a student begins a course of study, the computer can recognize quickly what has already been mastered and move directly to the area of study where the comprehension breaks down.
Once AI “learns” the student it can then give them targeted activities that will increase their understanding in a more rapid and meaningful way. This allows students to learn more efficiently.
Chinese company Squirrel AI Learning, a leader in the AI education technology field, was founded in 2014. Currently, it has 1,700 schools, 3,000 staff members, a presence in 200 cities and an estimated valuation of $1 billion dollars. And, there’s no end in sight.
Squirrel AI Learning has partnered here in the US with Carnegie Mellon to help grow its US initiative further.
Derek Haoyang Li, founder and CEO of Squirrel AI Learning recently told MIT Technology Review, “When AI education prevails, human teachers will be like a pilot. Human teachers will focus on emotional communication.”
Traditional textbook companies who have long been associated with developing trends in education have already established footholds in the AI arena.
McGraw Hill has developed its own adaptive learning system called ALEKS. And, educational publishing powerhouse Pearson has just left its partnership with Knewton to develop its own proprietary program.
Knewton is one of the largest developers of adaptive courseware for higher education. Its technology enables students to utilize its app, Alta, to act as a “virtual tutor” for hosts of college courses.
Better Than the Real Thing?
While adaptive learning can be helpful for moving students through a course of study, opponents argue it can’t replace human teachers.
As more and more jobs become automated, the need for creativity and problem-solving skills proves to be integral to future generations. While adaptive learning focuses on how to most effectively teach a subject matter, personalized learning focuses on how to make learning relevant for students.
In other words, AI has the ability to help a student master a course of study, but it can’t teach students how to learn. It also can’t help students determine what they’d like to learn more about, or how to cooperatively interact and solve problems with other students.
AI is proving to be a great tool in education and will most likely become more prevalent as the technology becomes more refined and readily available.