AI in Edtech: The emergence of an unanticipated technology

By Senthil Devarajan, Global Industry Head – Media, Entertainment & Education, Ness Digital Engineering

Artificial intelligence (AI) has revolutionized many industries, the education industry is no different and gaining positive momentum with AI adoption. To achieve diverse and improved outcomes, AI can be applied to school-based learning, professional learning & assessment, lifelong learning, and enterprise workforce learning & assessment. The technology and its associated tech including machine learning (ML), deep learning, natural language processing and computer vision are restructuring the way educators approach learning & assessment and gaining the confidence of researchers and businesses alike. Demand for more personalized and intelligent teaching content has extended AI’s utility and its further integration can transform the way people learn, teach, and evaluate students’ progress. But any new technology comes with risks.

AI technology in education provides more freedom in learning and gives students and teachers a space for feedback without bias and enables personalization of learning based on the individual’s needs & goals. Some of the potential benefits that outweigh the threats of adapting AI & ML to Edtech are: Current applications:

Educators in schools are potentially using AI in structuring learning content for personalizing learning, identifying knowledge gaps through adaptive assessment, providing feedback to aid students in enhancing their skills and measuring efficacy to support learners. Large data (structured and unstructured) can be continuously analyzed by machine learning algorithms to identify patterns, learn &adopt and generate suitable recommendations for students and teachers. With ChatGPT and GPT4 changing the way of life, Where AI and ML will be leveraged in Edtech is a open question industry leaders continue to explore.

Personalized learning:

Students’ positive attitude towards personalized learning is shifting the learning & assessment based on students’ ability and career aspirations, which make them successful in their professional & personal objectives. AI-powered software can analyze student performance data, contents available and recommend individualized study plans based on their individual strengths and weaknesses. Also integrating the data on the market skill demand provides clearer options and recommendations to students to find a job when they complete their studies.

Adoption of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) is slowly increasing and current AR usage by students is between 10% to 15%, but no way near mainstream revenue for most of the educators and content providers. VR and AR technologies can help students visualize complex concepts, interact with digital objects and learn. Also, natural language processing (NLP) can enable AI-powered chatbots to converse with students and provide instant support and feedback to enhance the overall learning experience.

Efficacy measurement is a critical part of learn & development, AI and ML tools thrive on assessing the efficiency of the content consumed and recommends relevant content to improve the results. It can evaluate the effectiveness of content consumption in multiple ways and can continue to refine content based on matrices like user behavior, cognitive analysis, performance and sentiment analysis, and adaptive personalization analysis. Innovators & technology companies are contributing to the expansion of this industry by offering personalized learning based on user behavior. This transformation enables learners to receive content that is tailored to their specific needs, resulting in more effective and efficient learning. In addition, developers are innovating new ways of delivering content and new technologies such as AR/VR, chatbots, and gamification to make learning more interactive and effective.

Distant Learning:

Interactive distant learning (like students from a medical university learning during live surgery happening 2000 miles away) is becoming an effective way of learning and is slowly coming into mainstream education. Also, edtech for professional learning and enterprise learning, which also enables distant learning, have become more valuable as employees continue to work from home and engage in hybrid work structures. The manufacturing industry is a classic example of how augmented and virtual reality leveraged along with digital twin models has enabled and enhanced on the job learning and also improved safety. AI-powered learning platforms can help professionals learn new skills and keep up with the latest developments in their fields ultimately providing personalized career guidance and suggesting relevant learning opportunities. Added major additional benefit of distant learning, it has indirectly helped reduce our carbon footprint with reducing travel to large extent.

Refined Workflows:

As the prevalence of AI grows in the sector, tools will assist in automating daily workflows in reducing errors. Schools will have a better learning experience, as redundant study materials will be eliminated, and educators will be able to assign relevant learning models.

Organizations that want to retain employees will be able to identify pain points and streamline processes such as onboarding and daily tasks, thereby improving employee wellness. This will result in higher job satisfaction and productivity. Additionally, companies can use data analytics to identify areas for improvement and make data-driven decisions.

Barriers to AI adoption

The cost to make and use AI-powered educational tools can be a significant barrier for schools and teachers who sometimes lack resources to incorporate AI technology in their system. In addition, there is concern that AI-powered tools may be biased or perpetuate existing inequalities in education.

Apart from that, the use of AI in schoolwork, which can’t be caught by plagiarism tools, has significantly raised concerns for educators today. ChatGPT or GPT4 is a recently developed artificial intelligence platform that can write impressively insightful essays on any topic based on minimalistic data. This is causing heated discussions among teachers about the purpose of modern teaching methods and how to spot plagiarism.

The integrity of private data is another threat facing the adoption of AI. As AI becomes more prevalent in all walks of life, the risk of data breaches and violations is aggravated, prompting companies to build better tools for countering these threats.

Potential Safe Practices:

To mitigate these potential threats, it is crucial to adopt safe practices when using AI in edtech. Developers must ensure that the integrity of sensitive personal data collected and stored by the AI are secured and that privacy is maintained. This involves the enforcement of efficient security measures and compliance with data protection regulations. Furthermore, it is important for edtech companies to involve educators and students in the development process to ensure that the tools are effective and meet the needs of the user. They must provide adequate training and support for teachers and students to effectively use the AI tools in the classroom.

Additionally, the adoption of AI in various disciplines will bring together the best brains for a more enhanced and efficient day-to-day. Education and professional institutions are racing to adopt newer technologies and learning to expedite their digital transformation to remain competitive. Overall, the benefits of AI outweigh the risks but working with a skilled engineering partner is critical to ensuring that all safe practices are met and barriers to adoption are eased. Businesses that recognize the importance of bringing both the technical skills required to build a tool and the domain expertise required to comprehend the nuances of a particular industry will thrive in providing a seamless experience and keeping their customers happy.

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