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United Nations has defined “Quality education” as the 4th Sustainable Development Goal in 2015. Since then, our world has collectively made a lot of progress towards achieving this goal. And now with the developments in AI, UN sees a great potential in this technology. It is expected to accelerate the progress, to address challenges, and to innovate teaching and learning. The opportunities and challenges have been discussed in many various forms and media. As a responsible AI for good organization, we are obliged to investigate these aspects of AI and present to you our opinions and findings on how AI could help in improving the quality of education.
In this newsletter we are categorizing the opportunities into 3 sections namely improving the quality of educational materials, simplifying the teaching experience and finally accessibility and inclusivity in educational system.
Improve the quality of educational materials
This simply means discovering innovative ways in which the curriculum of study can be delivered to the students. There have been various ways in which the contents were taughed to students. Traditionally it was delivered in a classroom simply using blackboards, and gradually visual and audio media were integrated into this. But the biggest change was made possible with the COVID pandemic. It made technological adoption a necessity in education as students and teachers were not allowed to be physically present in a room. And this has also pushed innovators to produce tools such as cheap tablets and laptops to deliver study materials to the vulnerable sections of society. Making use of these advancements AI could be easily integrated into the study structure. With the availability of cheap computer devices and connectivity of internet supported by projects like Starlink, education can be transformed tremendously with the power of AI. AI would support students in tremendous ways such as personalized content delivery, additional content recommendations, VR/AR based content delivery, etc.
Imagine a typical classroom, not all students would have the same potential to learn or might require extra support and some might be curious to learn more and need more engaging content. In such situations when an individual teacher delivers the content, they could only deliver for most of the class and not the whole class. In the future this can be changed with the help of AI, contents could be learned in self-paced manner with personalization based on individual interests and capabilities. When a student is interested in learning more about the workings of a theory rather than the general insights about the theory, his content could vary from that of a person who would like to know more on how the theory came into being and what are the situations behind its discovery. Even though both contents could vary, they both would remember the theory better in their own ways than the traditional books. In case the students are curious to learn more on the scientist behind and his history such contents can be recommended for added fun, or in case the student is interested in machines working based on these theories that could make his knowledge more practical. And adding to these possibilities the potential of Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality to experience the working of these machines in person would be a memorable event in the life of these kids.
Simplifying the teaching experience
Teachers are the linchpin of our education systems, tirelessly dedicated to shaping the minds of future generations. Even though teachers across the world spend on an average about 8 hours in school, their work doesn’t end there. Beyond their classroom hours, educators invest countless hours in lesson preparation, grading, and communication. AI has the potential to streamline these tasks, enhancing the teaching experience and equipping teachers with tools to focus more on what truly matters: nurturing young minds. In the ever-evolving landscape of education, AI has become a dynamic tool that complements the dedication and expertise of teachers and even parents that support the learning of their kids. As AI continues to evolve, we can anticipate with no doubt that even more efficient and innovative ways to enhance the teaching experience would be developed sooner to make education simplified.
With the current technological advancements, AI could help in organizing the class work more efficiently. It would become a lot easier to communicate effectively with the students, share study resources, conduct group work and even grade tests. The students can ask typical questions regarding the organization of class work, or the subjects to an AI, who could act as an assistant in answering this question on its own or even schedule meetings to clarify in person. This helps the teachers in turn to dedicate more time to other valuable tasks such as researching for the lessons or spending time with kids who need more attention. AI could also act as a tremendous help in conducting the research for the class materials by providing summaries of sections or books and even finding key information faster than we can. The delivery of these materials can also be automated using AI, making it easier for the educators. And with the capability of AI systems to learn to grade the tests of students, it could help students too to evaluate themselves and work on their own. With a lot more tools available now, AI could improve the quality of the work submitted by the students and make significant contributions to make the quality of education better.
Accessibility and inclusivity
Even though our society has been preparing to make our cities and other public structures accessible to all, including kids with special needs into the educational system is still largely a neglected topic. Instead of providing better solutions for the current system, we have developed an alternative system to educate these kids in a different setting. This system treats them as separated from others. They continue to be alienated from society and would only be recognized within their communities. Instead, AI could help foster a society where special needs kids could be included in the typical educational institutions. This would make them much more integrated with other children of their age and grow together to build a society that could welcome them as equals.
With the help of technological advancements AI is now capable of operating assistive technologies much better than they used to be. They could simply create closed captioning and transcriptions instantaneously, could also provide solutions such as text to speech and speech to text, or even help better with adaptive keyboards and screen readers. These solutions could also be integrated with each other according to the preferences and challenges of the individual kids without external support. With the help of these solutions kids that were facing challenges in speech, hearing or even vision could more easily integrate into the classrooms. Another great solution is the early intervention and support system, by which kids with learning challenges can be identified early on to provide them with better support using individualized and adaptive learning. AI could help provide them with different learning styles and materials that help them overcome the challenges. These advancements would encourage many more to happily integrate into the education system by taking away the worries of their parents.
Working together on better education
We have critically analyzed some of the possible opportunities that AI could contribute to education and have only presented very few of them that we believe could be implemented in the near future. Therefore, this is not considered as an exhaustive list. It is also worth noting that there are a lot more projects that are being worked on by great minds at the time of writing this letter, and hopefully the SDG 4 might be achieved faster than anticipated, thanks to not just the power of AI, but the collective good in humanity.
We too are currently working on a project to identify potential scholarship awardees in the poorest part of the population in Vietnam and their possible dropout rate. This could help in identifying the kids that need special support to further pursue their educational journey. This would ensure that the dropout rates can be significantly reduced, and the awardees would be much more successful in life than ever before. There could be a lot more opportunities such as this, that might still be untapped or undiscovered. If you believe that there are some ideas that we could collaboratively work on, do send us your ideas to our LinkedIn or email. We are also open to suggestions and feedback on any of our current projects and are more than delighted to find new solutions to such problems with more volunteers who would be happier to contribute to such good causes in whatever means possible. We are glad to announce that we are welcoming a few more volunteers to carry out our administrative tasks like marketing and content creation. If you think you could contribute to this cause in any form, do contact us and be a part of the MI4People family. We welcome everyone with open arms to be part of our great team of volunteers to share the goodness forward to the society by making use of the potential of AI for good. Because that is what we believe in and share with everyone. AI for good, MI for people!