Higher Education Review Magazine

Higher Education Review ›› Magazine ›› June-2018 ›› Special issue

Learning with the Machines

Author : Shantanu Rooj, Founder & CEO, SchoolGuru

Shantanu Rooj

Shantanu Rooj, Founder & CEO SchoolGuru

Stephen Hawking once said, "Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in Human history". We always knew that technology can play a significant role in the advancement of education and help it become meaningful and purposeful, but didn't know how. All this while, the role of technology got limited to enabling the current format of education rather than improving the outcome. The potential of technology never got harnessed and the magic eluded us as we didn't distinguish much between repair, launch, prepare and upgrade. The one size fits all model of education miserably failed to depict the complex reality because it failed to acknowledge the fact that not only people learn at different speeds, they come from different backgrounds and have different starting points.

Modern technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), bots and data science have become the buzzwords which everybody talks about, but few fully understand. AI concerns the use of computers to imitate the cognitive functions of the human brain to carry out tasks in an "intelligent" manner whereas ML focuses on the ability of machines to read a set of data and learn for themselves, changing and modifying algorithms as they learn more about the information they are processing.

Over the last decade, AI has progressed well to address several challenges to learning including language processing, reasoning, planning and cognitive modeling. Intelligent Tutor Systems are able to track the learner's comprehension of the domain by tracking one's 'mental steps'. Intelligent Tutor Systems can provide feedback, explanations and timely guidance and can promote productive learning behaviors, such as self-regulation, self-monitoring, and self-explanation. A meta-analysis comparing learner outcome using AI Systems found that over a wide variety of conditions, learning from these systems led to higher outcome scores. AI can play a key role in better connecting education systems and job markets thereby helping people find work that more closely suits their skills or preferences and reduce the cost of human resources management, including recruitment.

Over the last decade, AI has progressed well to address several challenges to learning including language processing, reasoning, planning and cognitive modeling.


AI may also help detect promising candidates with less conventional credentials and free recruiters from using college reputation as a proxy to assess candidates' potential. Technologies like AI and machine learning clearly present significant opportunities to raise the quality of education of our current one-size-fits-all system and allow a shift of teachers' focus on higher-value creative, interpersonal and engagement tasks. Whereas certain developments have emerged in this space over the last decade, it pales in comparison to the advancement in the non-education sectors. Use of drones by Amazon and UPS to deliver packets to the customer, Google's self-driving cars are all examples of exciting breakthroughs in the area outside education.

AI and ML can play significant roles in the area of learning analytics, adaptive learning, and recommendation engines. Yet implementation at scale hinges on overcoming an overly regulated and an under-governed sector and will require support from key stakeholders—students, parents, teachers, administrators, and policymakers. The manifestation of AI in education and making the right move now will take Indian education to where it should be, any delay can be very expensive.

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