AI-in-education

Applications and Opportunities for AI in Education

February 22, 2022 - Emily Newton

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Any educator who’s ever had to buy their own classroom materials can say confidently that a “lack of technology” isn’t education’s biggest problem. Not every country values education in the same way. And even within a country’s borders, the quality of education can vary widely across different households and income statuses.

In the U.S., for example, the quality of local education derives mostly from the area’s property taxes. That leaves some communities in a downward spiral of worsening educational conditions and career opportunities.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as a powerful ally in both K-12 settings and on university campuses. AI is more perceptive and consistent than human beings. Consequently, it can pick trends out of datasets to personalize education, expedite rote tasks, facilitate more successful student onboarding, design more effective curriculums, and much more.

Here’s a look at a few practical ways to apply artificial intelligence in the classroom and on the college campus. Most of these examples are here, today, with startups already exploring their academic and business potential.

1. Creating an Adaptive Curriculum

One of the biggest challenges for any instructor is knowing when individual students need additional help. Adding AI to the mix can do precisely this. It can also help create tailored content to shore up individuals’ subject matter blind spots.

For example, Quizlet Learn is an AI-powered learning app. Students first answer a few questions about the content itself and provide a timeline for their learning. The app then adjusts the coursework based on the individual’s existing knowledge. It also helps them budget their time to complete the course within their desired timeframe.

Other AI-powered curriculum tools include interactive television shows, like “Einor Wonders Why,” and personalized assistants like Grammarly that pick up on the nuances of writing to help students improve their voices on the page.

2. Monitoring for Safety

A lot of the technology being developed today comes about in the name of “safety” and “security.” Many such innovations appear to be a solution in search of a problem, or like surveillance tools thinly disguised as safety protocols.

Some applications of AI in education may truly put student welfare first, however. According to one study, 44% of surveyed district leaders plan to use AI to flag potential misuse of school property.

One example of a tool that does this is called Gaggle. Its AI proactively and intuitively scans for worrisome online behavior within school grounds. It might, for example, find content that could be a sign of impending self-harm. Gaggle claims to have saved hundreds of students’ lives through this kind of technology-driven proactivity.

3. Translating Languages

The ability to translate foreign languages quickly, into any other language, is an amazing feat provided by AI. Thanks to modern technology, these translations can now even happen in real-time, using everyday tools like smartphones.

Translating knowledge instantly from one language to another means AI can help students explore the written word in all-new ways. Students can see instantly how the roots and derivatives of words are different and similar all over the world. That, in turn, can help with retention and becoming a global citizen. Knowing and seeing how similar the world’s languages are at their core could help break down cultural barriers.

Giving scholars instant-translation tools opens up a world of knowledge. Students don’t have to be confined to just learning materials written in their mother tongue. They can explore concepts that come to us from a world away.

4. Expediting ‘Back Office’ Functions

K-12 classrooms and college campuses should be places for learning, first and foremost. Even so, there are lots of times when distraction sets in because of mundane tasks like scheduling meetups with advisors or study groups. If instructors and students alike want to get the most out of their time and maximize their productive efforts, they can turn to artificial intelligence for help.

Meet Assistant from Google is one AI-based tool that assists with mundane “back office” tasks. For example, it eliminates the back-and-forth exchanges that feel inevitable when trying to set up meetings with faculty or a project group. It simply finds the next best open time slot for the involved parties, by looking at participants’ schedules and applying AI to the task.

Other AI tools bring robotic process automation to other rote tasks that take up educators’ or administrators’ time, too, such as performing data entry and scheduling courses, setting up course registration, checking student eligibility, sending out reminder mailings, carrying out compliance reporting, and much more.

5. Improving the Speed of Research

As students progress in their studies, their projects inevitably become more demanding, complex, and scholarly in nature. As of 2021, the United States has hundreds of research universities of various kinds, many of which publish significant findings on an annual basis. If the emerging minds at these universities are to continue their meaningful studies, they need artificial intelligence to facilitate faster academic research.

Scientists’ available datasets grow in number and scale almost constantly. That makes it all but impossible for researchers to manually explore scientific databases to form their hypotheses and sharpen their conclusions. Artificial intelligence has become essential to the process of modern research because it can search existing studies and bodies of evidence extremely quickly to find conclusions of note. The pace of academic research should increase substantially as more labs and research universities get access to AI tools – especially those focused on STEM.

6. Building Better Test Preparation

In the United States and elsewhere, standardized test-taking is still an important part of the academic experience. National college entrance exams, SATs, ACTs, and others serve as important tests of aptitude, but they’re also a bottleneck for future academic success if students aren’t prepared for the experience.

AI-led test preparation is already a lucrative business opportunity. Riiid is one example of a test-prep application intended to assist learners with the challenge of preparing for college prep and entrance exams. Riiid and apps like it have been identified by market-watchers as “game-changers” in the educational sector. One reason is that they help level the playing field when it comes to access to higher education. Many students are ideal college material, but not all of them are confident test-takers, nor have all motivated learners been exposed to the same quality of learning material at the same points in their academic careers.

The concept of “no student left behind” – including the idea that no student with the proper motivation and attitude should lack access to college – is a goal that AI can help support.

Is There Money in Education AI?

All signs point to education AI becoming an extremely lucrative market in the coming years. The COVID-19 pandemic was one expediting factor; as students and faculty members had to make their peace with an increasingly remote learning environment, educational facilities had to find ways to bolster the efforts of educators and administrators through technology.

Due to this and other factors, market-watchers estimate the education AI industry to be worth $10.3 billion by 2026 and anticipate a compound annual growth rate of more than 41%.

Conclusion Paragraph

Artificial intelligence is an incredible asset, and it’s only becoming more useful and more widely applicable. Education is an industry in something of a transition and educators and students decide together what campus life, and the educational experience in general, will look like as we move into a more global, more technology-first future. It’s clear AI can help make the new world of education that’s coalescing before our eyes a more productive and more inclusive one.

Revolutionized is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commision. Learn more here.

Author

Emily Newton

Emily Newton is a technology and industrial journalist and the Editor in Chief of Revolutionized. She enjoys reading and writing about how technology is changing the world around us.

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