Classroom learning is a standard that has been around for nearly as long as structured civilizations have been around. It may have been subject to several changes based on evolving nature of society, as well as technology innovation; but the crux of it always remained the same - to push the enlightenment of minds through educational instruction.
Classroom learning may be a highly essential component of a functional society, but it isn’t exempt from drawbacks. This is a fact that has been especially focused on over the past 2 decades.
The reason? In a nutshell, can be attributed to major advancements in technology.
The past 20 years or so, have been witness to great leaps in the fields of communication, as well as computing technology. The internet revolution, combined with the advent of concepts such as personal computing, and wireless communication have greatly simplified human lives in various ways. One of the fields to have benefitted especially is that of education. The flexibility of physical time, and space that contemporary forms of easy-to-use technology - smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc., bring to the table, have completely changed the way in which educators, as well as learners, interact with classroom teaching.
Student-teacher interactions are no longer restricted to the four walls of a classroom. Concepts such as e-learning have now taken firm footing in the education sphere. And not just projectors with slideshows, AV learning, etc., smartphones also serve as effective learning instruments, especially given the great numbers of students that own them. Mobile app development companies today find learning apps to be a highly lucrative undertaking. Indeed, the mobile app development industry now dishes out several educational/learning apps, many of which have become extremely popular in their respective markets.
All said and done, however, e-learning, mobile learning, and other similar concepts aren’t new anymore; having already been incorporated in various capacities in several educational institutions/facilities. These technologies have joined the ‘mainstream club’, now bearing witness to the rise of a new force, one that will yet again, revolutionize the constructs of academic learning. Its name has been mentioned in all mainstream media with increasing frequency over the past few years. It is called Artificial Intelligence (AI).
What is AI?
Most people, upon hearing AI, will start to imagine a robot, or any other machine making human conversation, and assisting people to carry out daily tasks. That, however, is only a visual representation; an exterior facade that embodies this technology.
Wikipedia defines AI as,”…intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence (NI) displayed by humans and other animals. In computer science AI research is defined as the study of "intelligent agents": any device that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its chance of successfully achieving its goals. Colloquially, the term "artificial intelligence" is applied when a machine mimics "cognitive" functions that humans associate with other human minds, such as "learning" and "problem solving".”
AI is in fact, a highly powerful and capable computing system, one that can traverse millions, billions, and even trillions of data bytes in seconds. This extreme computational prowess is what truly gives AI systems their vast capabilities. It serves as the foundation atop which developers then create the entire bulk of programming, an interface based on the desired application.
Let’s take a look at how AI is redefining education. Here are some of the key areas of education where AI can be applied for good measure:
- Grading systems
Although the concept of electronic grading has been around for years now, the actual heavy-lifting must actually be done by the teachers themselves. And grading tests/homework/assignments can be quite a time-consuming affair, especially for teachers in large schools and colleges. The recent developments in AI can, however, completely negates the need for teachers to carry out such work, thus allowing them to focus more on curriculum development, as well as individual student progress.
- Artificial tutors
The mind of every student works differently, which also affects how they interact with, and consume learning content. Many-a-times, students end up finding certain subjects hard to grasp and may end up being stuck on them for weeks. Not saying that actual teachers are not capable of breaking through learning barriers, but approaching such situations with AI tutoring technology can end up making a significant difference. Also, the AI tutoring method can work great in cases such as extra revision, or certain basic concepts that the teacher need not put a great deal of time into.
- Analytical prowess
Teaching and the educational field, in general, involves a great deal of communication; with a lot of back forth between teachers and their students. Despite the skill and experience of a teacher, however, it isn’t easy to keep track of the individual needs of all students, mainly owing to the fact that there are simply too many aspects to every learner’s mind. This issue can, however, be solved through good data analytics systems. Using the capabilities of AI technology, teachers can better track, and understand the progress of each student, across multiple constructs of their overall learning traits. This enhanced understanding will enable teachers to better address the learning needs of all their students without any compromise whatsoever.
- Virtual reality (VR)
VR is one of the most beneficial applications of AI that the world has seen so far, and for good reason too. The utter and complete immersion that VR offers users is stimulating right to the extent of the actual events themselves - minus the need to actually be part of those events/scenarios. VR is already a subject of great investment in training programs across several industries (Law Enforcement, Corporate), which includes compliance training, skill development, etc.
Even in the education field, the applications of VR are nothing short of revolutionary, as they take learning from an activity to an experience for the students.
Mathematics, science, history, geography; the possibilities of the AI-driven change are virtually endless and will pander to students’ imaginations like never before, thus creating a whole new ecosystem of learning, one that is fueled by passion, intrigue, and a great deal of fun too.