Is Artificial Intelligence (AI) just hype, or is it really the promised paradigm shift in how we construct and use technology as a society? How is it being used in education already? And how can you prepare for how it will affect the role of teachers, MIS managers and institution executives in the coming years? Our new AI in education series is a must read, whether your institution is planning to dip its toe into tested AI waters, or jump in at the proverbial deep end!
Possibly one of the almightiest buzzwords of the century thus far, mainstream and corporate media has propelled Artificial Intelligence (AI) into a catch-all nebulous term for a variety of systems.
What actually is Artificial Intelligence?
First considered in 1956, AI isn’t a new phenomenon, but the booming awareness and proliferation across all sectors is recent. Like how the term “cloud” was over-used in the early 2010’s to the point of losing all meaning, AI terminology has become ubiquitous in modern software services. In fact, the term is so vague that reports have suggested 40% of self-stated AI start-ups don’t actually use any AI programs.
So lets have a look at a more useful definition of AI according to TechTarget:
“Artificial intelligence (AI) is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems.
These processes include:
- Learning (the acquisition of information and rules for using the information)
- Reasoning (using rules to reach approximate or definite conclusions)
The reality of Artificial Intelligence
Whilst the term “simulation of human intelligence” may conjure up sci-fi android fantasies - the reality is much more mundane and governments and institutions are taking notice of the imminent real-world impact for business processes. As a result, international government and policy initiatives to support the implementation, teaching and utilisation of AI related technologies have started to permeate the globe, with the majority of AI policy frameworks aiming for a 2020 release schedule. The number of enterprises implementing artificial intelligence has grown 270% in the past four years, according to Gartner’s 2019 CIO Survey – tripling in the past year alone - and CIOs picked AI as the top game-changer technology.
However, according to a survey of education institution executives by HolonIQ, less than 20% of educational institutions have mapped out where potential AI opportunities lie in their organisation, and there are only a handful of high profile examples of AI being embraced as a game changer.
That said China’s government has already begun teaching K-12 level children machine-learning to make the nation a competitive AI-enabled workforce. Meanwhile the UK recently opened The Office for AI., and Education Secretary Damian Hinds has touted the advantages of AI in workload reduction, namely email management. At either ends of the spectrum, these examples hint at how AI will transform the education game – both in terms of AI being a learning opportunity and a subject matter for study that will grow rapidly in popularity in the next decade and how teaching will be delivered and provisioned in the future. These moves sow seeds of fundamental change in teaching and learning methods, but also in international technology procurement considerations.
How can AI be utilised in education?
On the point of new teaching and learning methods, modern education has a lot of pain points (as shown in our recent Market Survey) that AI will be able to alleviate in the near future, including:
- Data management
- Student Support
- Student Recruitment
Indeed, AI technology is already enabling huge data sets to be processed rapidly, generating predictions, insights and interactions previously not possible at scale. And in time, key institutional processes will be augmented and enhanced by AI applications. Improved enrolment, assessment, and personalised curriculum are some benefits, to name a few.
If AI is utilised effectively:
- teachers will have reduced workloads,
- admin will save time and resources, and
- most importantly students will have a modernised and responsive learning experience.
In the same way that ‘the cloud’ moved through the hype and is now proven to improve security and software availability whilst reducing costs, AI related technologies are set to help institutions thrive in our increasingly data-driven society.
So tune in to our next blog for the low-down on student-facing, teacher-facing and system-facing solutions and the ‘best case scenario’ for AI in education, before we explore where AI can be utilised in education, today.