Almost every industry sector and business function are currently looking at ways to leverage AI. While uptake of AI for education purposes began relatively slowly, it is now rapidly gaining traction in both the private as well as the public sphere. For example, the AI market in the US education sector is currently expected to grow at an impressive 48% CAGR between 2018 and 2022, when it will reach a value of USD85 million.
This rapid growth is being driven by a surge in AI innovation and, more importantly, an increasing recognition that AI solutions can optimize an extremely wide range of processes throughout the education field – benefiting not just learners but also teachers, learning administrators, schools, businesses, and each of us in our everyday lives.
Learning Challenges in Formal Education
A major challenge for schoolteachers has always been to provide a personalized education for each child, taking into account their different learning styles, attention spans, and levels of interest in the topic. Over the past decade, this has become increasingly difficult in many parts of the world, as cutbacks in education, due to the 2008 financial crisis, have pushed teachers to their limits.
In the UK, for example, teachers have seen a rise in class sizes for the fourth year in a row, and are increasingly tasked with evermore administrative work. A recent study showed that 25% of schoolteachers are working more than 60 hours per week, while most spend as much time on administration, management, marking, and lesson planning as they do teaching.
AI Drives Personalization and Efficiency
AI can play a major role in addressing these challenges.
For example, not only can AI platforms rapidly grade exam papers and mark homework, they can simultaneously suggest recommendations to tutors about how to close individual learning gaps. Additionally, AI platforms can offer an extensive range of learning information and tools–enabling educators to rapidly design and integrate curriculum, and to create customized student content that can be published on any digital platform.
By significantly reducing administration time, AI enables teachers to focus on delivering higher quality and more personalized educational experiences for learners. This can be further supported by AI analytics that shows each student’s strengths and weaknesses, with visual representations of their learning progress.
Learning by Robot
In the future, schools will likely provide each pupil with their own AI-driven robot to act as an ever-present learning assistant and personal tutor. Already, robots are being developed that can identify a learner’s cognitive and emotional states by tracking mouse activity and keyboard usage and immediately provide the most appropriate intervention to help achieve educational goals. Such close AI-student collaboration will do more than dramatically improve learning outcomes.
It will also better prepare students for working alongside AI in their professional lives while encouraging them to learn AI and other IT skills that could significantly help to reduce the current skills gap.
There are many other areas in formal education where AI is fast proving valuable, including:
Streamlining admissions and enrollment processes
Improving access to education, whether by assisting learners with visual or hearing impairments or by connecting classrooms all over the world using real-time language translations
Optimizing the scheduling of lessons, staff, and substitute teachers
Providing augmented, personalized, and collaborative virtual reality experiences that allow students to really ‘feel’ the learning content.
Boosting Learning in the Business World
AI technologies are also increasing personalization, streamlining administration, and improving learning outcomes in the corporate world, where progress is likely to be even faster.
To meet both the micro and macro learning needs of today’s business professionals, L&D departments are moving from traditional, closed Learning Management Systems to more flexible, AI-supported Learning Experience Platforms. These allow employees to plan their own learning pathways and to learn what they want, when they want, and through their preferred medium. Whether it's through a formal training video, industry article, podcast, web forum, or intelligent chatbot.
Artificial intelligence tools can track an individual’s workplace behavior, predict learning trends and preferences, and offer personalized learning recommendations based on past activity. All of which can be fed back to L&D teams, via detailed AI analytics, to help them enhance content creation, procurement, and delivery, with increasing cost efficiency.
A key trend for the corporate market will be an emphasis on learning chatbots and virtual mentoring tools, which, as natural language processing (NLP) technologies evolve, will engage learners smoothly and effectively by being able to ‘speak their language’.
Personalized Learning Companions for Life
As we move into a world of AI-assisted learning, from schools to workplaces, we will probably soon each have our very own learning chatbot, which we will stick with throughout our lives. Gone will be the days of Google search, of thumbing through old school books, and of fast-forwarding through corporate training videos. Everything that we have ever learned, as well as everything we will need to learn, will be instantly accessible through your dedicated and highly intelligent virtual learning companion, who may already know just what you’re about to ask.
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