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Three Uses of Artificial Intelligence in Education

By: James Herrin (Posted on November 20, 2019)

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are all the rage nowadays. They have entered nearly all facets of our lives and are there to stay.

Education is no exception. While the implementation of AI is yet to be perfected, many leading technological nations such as China seek to increase its presence in their education systems.

How can education benefit from the use of AI? Here are some ways!

Enhancing communication between teachers and students

Many people would like to study in countries other than their own. There can be a lot of reasons for it: their homeland may not be in the most safe place in the world. Getting high-quality education may be a problem there, which can be compounded with a language barrier. Of course, it is possible to study another language but, especially if it is not taught at schools in a person’s home country, it can take them a while before they are proficient enough to enter a university. Luckily, this is one way in which machine learning can help.

There already exist solutions for real-time language translation in both text and voice forms. AI is needed in them to correctly recognize words and word forms and translate them in a natural fashion.

It should be noted that such translation systems are far from ideal for now. The latency of their responses makes them more suitable for lectures than for a conversation or discussion. Moreover, they are prone to mistakes and misunderstandings of the context. Will they get so much better as to provide seamless translation to professors and students? The time will tell, but even today there is some use they can find in AI-enhanced communication.

Helping teachers fight cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is a plague that affects children in many negative ways including but not limited to social anxiety, depression, underperformance at school, and even self-harm and suicide. What makes it especially dangerous is how hard it can be for adults to spot and recognize as such.

According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, more than a third of middle and high-school pupils have been bullied online. Such statistics show that this problem needs new solutions.

As cyberbullying uses technologies, it can be combated with technologies, too, and AI has something to offer in this regard.

AI algorithms can be used to find and block hate speech on social media with good accuracy. Unlike simple word filters that could only block per-determined words and not others that might be used sarcastically to the same effect, machine learning is able to recognize insults even when they are veiled.

This technology is used either to block and report offensive content after it was posted online, thereby preventing potential victims from seeing it, or to let a cyberbully know that what they are about to post is wrong. The latter approach, however, has a downside because it requires that a potential bully installs an app on their device.

Relieving teachers of tasks that have little to do with education

Oftentimes, we see lists of jobs that “will 100% die out” because of AI. Whether or not one agrees with such ominous forecasts, it’s hard even for the human skeptics to say that teachers are going to be among those unfortunate professions.

Indeed, no AI will never replace good teachers who can bond with their students – after all, one needs to be a human to understand humans. What AI can do for teachers, however, is to ease their burden and free more of their time for actual teaching.

Right now, teachers across the world are spending extraordinary amounts of time doing what is, essentially, administrative tasks: keeping track of attendance, making sure there are textbooks for everyone, calculating grades according to the importance of each one, and so on ad infinitum.

These activities have almost nothing to do with education and a lot with organizational processes. This is not to say they are not needed to keep an educational facility running; in fact, they are absolutely necessary to do it. However, they do distract teachers from their primary job.

And what is a better thing to use AI for? Robots never tire, they don’t get bored with repetitive tasks, and they are much quicker than humans in doing calculations.

Georgia Tech’s AI assistant by the name of Jill Watson is one example of how artificial intelligence can make teachers’ lives easier. This algorithm is used to respond to queries students post on the university’s forum due to their large number.

In all, the Digital Age is producing AI products that are useful to teachers across the world, and it can benefit teachers in several ways. The future is going to be exciting!