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Artificial Intelligence in Schools: How AI-powered adaptive learning technology can help students

CBSE introduced artificial intelligence as an elective paper in schools. This article talks about how AI can help students learn better.

education Updated: Jan 25, 2019 16:21 IST
New Delhi
artificial intelligence course,artificial intelligence,artificial intelligence subject in schools
How artificial intelligence subject in schools can help students learn in a better way(Hindustan Times)

With CBSE introducing artificial intelligence as an elective paper, students and teachers must be very excited to know how can AI help the students’ performance grow. It has been decided that the subject would be introduced in classes 8, 9 and 10 as a skill subject.

What is artificial intelligence?

Artificial intelligence is the ability of a machine to think, learn and perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition and decision-making skills. Capabilities demonstrated by machines, including computers, from playing chess to operating cars and beyond, fall within the domain of artificial intelligence.

CBSE to introduce artificial intelligence courses in classes 8, 9, 10

How AI-powered Adaptive Learning Technology brings Personalised Learning to Kids

The rapid spread of education among the masses in the industrial era made the ‘one-size-fits-all’ method of learning the most convenient one for training subsequent generations of the workforce due to lack of resources. This method of education did not cater to the interests of most students, and learning became less engaging and meaningful for them. Additionally, learning was very superficial, with learners having only a basic understanding of concepts and this led to poor retention. This problem was recognised by the 18th century social revolutionary, Jean-Jacques Rousseau who made the following recommendations:

“Teach your scholar to observe the phenomena of nature; you will soon rouse his curiosity, but if you would have it grow, do not be in too great a hurry to satisfy this curiosity. Put the problems before him and let him solve them himself. Let him know nothing because you have told him, but because he has learnt it for himself…”

Rousseau talks about self-paced and self-styled learning methods, which came to be termed as personalised learning in the 1960s. Personalised learning includes tailoring educational content according to the learners’ strengths, needs and interests, applying competency-based progression to set the individual pace for comfortable learning, and customising instructional modes to maximise learning intake. Before technological advancement, personalised learning was possible only through one-to-one private tutorials, which could be afforded only by affluent families. The rest of the learners had to submit to ‘factory schooling’, which failed to spark interest or provide in-depth learning, thus demotivating them. However, the turn of the millennium saw technology grow by leaps and bounds and its eager adoption in upgrading several learning strategies, including personalised learning.

Adaptive tests

Personalised learning has now come within the reach of everyone through adaptive learning technology. Powered by artificial intelligence, it analyses a vast pool of data to tailor the content as per an individual’s interest and knowledge level. This is initiated with the help of adaptive tests, which accurately quantifies the knowledge of different topics of individual learners. These tests include a large pool of questions usually drawn from data collected over the years, whose difficulty level is determined on the basis of the number of students who have answered the questions correctly. Learners are first posed with a mid-level question and based on their response, the difficulty level of the next question and the subsequent ones are modified— if they answer a question of mid-level difficulty correctly, then they will be presented with a question with a higher level of difficulty, but if answered incorrectly, the system will pose a simpler question.

Optimal learning paths

Adaptive assessments help instructors to precisely determine where the individual learner stands at the beginning of the academic course and to measure gaps through the course of learning. These tests give detailed analytical reports of the knowledge state and learning pattern of the learner, according to which an optimal learning path is established. This constitutes the second part of adaptive learning— adaptive content. We at Next Education have designed an adaptive learning platform as part of our Next Learning Platform, which will present the optimal learning resources from our vast pool of content (simulations, real-life videos and hands-on learning tools) based on what the learner responds best to. This inspires inquiry-based learning, which ensures that students follow the best-suited learning path and attain learning goals in an optimal time.

Making personalised learning available for all

Implementing personalised learning was practically impossible before adaptive learning technology came into the scene. The two major factors affecting this were lack of qualified teachers and financial resources. Personalised instruction needs an ideal student--teacher ratio of six to eight students per teacher. Besides , most teachers lack adequate training for effective teaching. Thus, only a select few elite schools with exceptionally good teachers were able to facilitate a personalised learning environment to students.

Therefore, in the absence of such learning opportunities in most schools, parents chose to enrol students in coaching classes or appoint private tutors. The scenario in group coaching classes was not that encouraging either. Appointing skilled private tutors might be ideal, but it is certainly be a costly affair. A private teacher would charge approximately ₹ 2,000 to ₹ 5,000 per student for one subject for a month. On the other hand, adaptive learning would cost only around ₹ 200–500 for a student per month, thereby helping students avail quality education at affordable prices. Additionally, increasing internet and digital system usage in recent years has improved access to digital education, bringing the advantages of adaptive learning to remote areas of the country.

Thus, AI-powered adaptive learning has brought personalised learning within the reach of all 21st-century learners, solving the three-fold problem of quality, cost and access that continues to plague education, especially in developing countries such as India. The continuous evolution of education technology with the help of artificial intelligence promises more wonders such as advanced language teaching tools and smart assistants in classrooms, which will change the face of education completely.

(The article is authored by Beas Dev Ralhan, Co-founder and CEO , Next Education India Pvt ltd. Views expressed are personal)

First Published: Jan 25, 2019 14:59 IST