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AI And Big Data To Improve Online Learning
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August 4, 2016 News

By assessing data from mouse clicks, time spent deliberating on tasks and assessment report responses, through the introduction of AI and deep learning, universities, as well as digital course providers will learn how its students retain and master their learning material while studying for a course online.

Although most AI investments and upgrades have been coming from outside the education industry, ie Google, Microsoft and Amazon, AI’s greatest potential seems to lie in education.

Due to its inherent nature, online learning has little to offer in terms of personal guidance and so the task of finding out a students retention capabilities will fall into the ‘hands’ of a robot.

Language start-up company, Knowble’s managing director, Josef Misik believes most educational technology products will have an AI or deep learning component in the near future.

AI has been considered the next step in education for the last 5 years. In terms of systems, software and support, students are able to learn from anywhere in the world and are able to learn any number of basic skills, in some ways replacing teachers. It is able to track students’ learning capabilities and identify problems through data analysis and predict problem areas.

Teachers too can use the technology to further enhance their teaching methods.

“Data is an amazing resource for teachers, who glean detailed feedback on how learners are processing information,” says Julia Stiglitz, VP at Coursera. It can even give real-time feedback and through its data analysis, it will be able to predict students performance.

Data mining through AI is also changing how colleges interact with students. From recruitment, by finding the best choice course, to tailoring to each students needs and achievements. It is playing an integral role and further enhancing students experience by offering AI-guided training during transitioning between college and high school.

Data-driven improvements will be a thing to look forward to as that will be how teachers and instructors can uncover an issue or inefficiency instead of waiting for the end semester survey to begin evaluation.

Deep learning systems, with their ability to read, write and imitate human behaviour can also tutor using “intelligent tutoring” a technology by Cognii, to improve learning as well as assessment.

For educators, the priority in finding what suits the student in terms of a powerful learning experience, is made possible through data analytics. Makers of Moocs(massive, open online courses) and blended learning programs are now able to create unique pathways. The data helps these online learning companies create the experiences and target learners with the right information they would need to achieve their goals.

5.8 million students in the US are now furthering their studies through distance learning already. The opportunity for AI to make its potential known in this industry is apparent. AI’s proliferation has been progressing due to a steady increase in smartphone usage and also because low cost providers such as edX that provides access to top notch content from universities.

“The online environment provides a powerful platform to conduct experiments, and to explore how students learn and how faculty can best teach using a variety of novel tools,” says Nancy Moss, the former communications chief of edX.

However the drawbacks of not having a human educator who can understand student limitation, and not just based on data mined, still remains a heavy burden on the shoulders of developers. CEO and founder of Emotech, Hongbin Zhuang admits that some issues remain to be solved especially around data security, privacy and the mechanics behind human learning.

In the face of these innovations, it seems teachers and educators will be paying the ultimate price by becoming obsolete or redundant. Although they should not be the parties that become sacrificed in the face of technology and innovation, but incorporated for the greater good, it is a hard choice to make. In recent times, it is innovation that usually comes out tops

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