Can ed-tech excel with AI and ML?

Can ed-tech excel with AI and ML? Source: Shutterstock

Can ed-tech excel with AI and ML?

  • As a sector, education is a digital laggard, presenting a serious challenge given the scale of what’s to come
  • The pandemic has led to artificial intelligence (AI) fueling an education boom
  • Full-scale adoption of digital technologies may be a few decades away, with less than 4% of global expenditure on tech.

The pandemic has made educational organizations realize the importance of modernizing learning programs to meet the demands of modern society. Artificial Intelligence (AI) remains the most prospective niche for investment, not only for primary schools but also for universities and online learning platforms. Experts also reckon that in a post-Covid world, the classroom is no longer contained within four walls as ed-tech will be the key to expanding beyond them.

AI subfields, such as Natural Language Processing (NPL), Machine Learning (ML) algorithms, speech, and image recognition, improve the learning process by increasing student engagement, providing personalized programs, and supporting students with relevant information 24/7. At the same time, software with AI for automatic grading and performance assessment helps teachers to save time on routine tasks. 

The transition to this learning environment also revealed new insights into the state of technology in education. The “education system is evolving at an unprecedented rate, and making effective ed-tech investments will be critical in the year ahead,” according to a recent report by Promethean.

Last year alone, the ed-tech market raked in more than US$10 billion in venture capital investment globally in 2020. Statistics however suggest that education is still grossly under digitized, with less than 4% of global expenditure on tech, presenting a serious challenge given the scale of what’s to come. The knowledge economy and future skills require massive digital transformation, and, while accelerated through Covid-19 there is still far to go.

AI in education 

Experts reckon educational institutions should make attempts to unlock the value trapped in vast volumes of data. For an instance, the huge data bank enabled with AI can be used to create customized assessments for students across subjects and grades. And the same can be evaluated with equal ease on a smartphone or a laptop.

AI can further be leveraged here to generate specific insightful reports, focusing on the strength and areas of improvement for different students. A fair assessment should evaluate students on both their strengths and areas that need improvement. While the current assessment models focus on overall dexterity, AI can create a fairer and unbiased system to assess students.

Another way AI and ML can further advance the ed-tech sector is by letting it sift through cluttered content. Furthermore, ed-tech players can provide additional support for students with AI tutors. As a matter of fact, some tutoring programs based on artificial intelligence already exist and can help students through basic mathematics, writing, and other subjects. While they might not be ideal for high-order thinking and creativity, they certainly help in teaching students the fundamentals. 

Even customizing education to meet the needs of different students with varied aptitude is a mammoth task, but the ed-techs can overcome this bottleneck efficiently with the help of AI, which can help teachers and students to craft courses that are customized to their needs and also provide feedback to both about the success of the course as a whole. AI conversational tools — or chatbots — also can be leveraged to improve student engagement in their overall learning process. There are several ways in which chatbots can be used, including teaching a lesson through a series of messages, integrating it in the feedback loop, and more.