AI empowered education is key to success in the 4th Industrial Age:
In another 10 days, from March 4th to 8th, UNESCO will be holding Mobile Learning week, the next edition of its flagship ICT event at Paris. UNESCO’s Mobile Learning Week 2019 (4-8 March) will focus on “Artificial Intelligence and sustainable development”. The themes of this series earlier were:
- 2018: Skills for a connected world
- 2017: Education in emergencies and crises
- 2016: Innovating for quality
- 2015: Leveraging Technology to empower women and girls
- 2014: Teachers
- 2013: Mobile Learning and EFA Goals
- 2011: December: Using mobile Technologies to transform educational process and outcomes
And from February 25th to 28th Barcelona will be having the MWC ( Mobile World Congress) where AI is one of the 6 themes. Another important theme at this event is Digital Trust. Both of these have huge implications for education.
In his recent book, the 4th education revolution, Sir Anthony Seldon has said that “ Schools and Universities in the developed world are doing a good job overall at preparing students……..for the 20th Century”
It is clear that in an exponentially changing world which is at the beginning of the 3rd decade of the 21st Century, this is woefully out of date.
“Education will be profoundly transformed by AI. Teaching tools, ways of learning, access to knowledge and teacher training will be revolutionised”: Audrey Azoulay, Director General UNESCO
While the UNESCO will also deliberate on the issues, these are important matters to be addressed :
To look at the opportunities and threats linked to the use of AI in education. Key issues include:
- How to ensure inclusive and equitable use of AI in education?
- How to leverage AI to enhance education and learning?
- How to promote skills development for jobs and life in the AI era?
- How to safeguarding transparent and auditable use of education data?
The mobile revolution has convincingly demonstrated that this nation can use self and peer learning to adopt mobile and web technologies. Awareness, adoption and internalisation of AI should also be a people’s movement. Already there are a number of Smartphones which have AI chips in them, and in the foreseeable future we may expect AI empowered mobile phones to be ubiquitous. And with devices such as Raspberry Pi, Amazon Deeplens and Alexa, Intel’s Movidius Neural Compute stick the use and applications of AI will become commonplace.
There are more than 850 million mobile phone subscribers in India. According to a report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), mobile internet is largely used by youngsters. With an increase rate of over 10M users a month, there’s no doubt that mobile devices are the classrooms of tomorrow.
I would like to visualise the future by drawing up the contours of an AI empowered educational ecosystem that can be put in place right now and a complete transformation to the new model could be done by the end of the year 2020. Of course continuous improvement would then follow.
A complete mobile based teaching-learning model:
- A motivated passionate inspiring teacher
- Mobiles in the hands of all ( new meaning of EFA)
- Mobile Internet access
- e-mail for course content delivery
- WhatsApp for instant feedback
- Twitter as a back channel
All administrative tasks would move over to AI solutions provided by the companies that provide Ed-Tech services. Admissions, fee management, attendance ( through face recognition) safety ( with IoT and AI), time-tabling and scheduling of activities… etc.
Record keeping of credentials would move on to a Blockchain system,
But the real transformation would be in enabling the teachers to manifold improve upon the efficiency and effectiveness of the teaching learning process.
The holy grail of education is a model of group instruction that is as effective as a 1-on-1 education, articulated by Benjamin Bloom in 1984 as the 2 sigma problem.
Sir Anthony Seldon in his book suggests how teaching will be transformed by AI over the coming decades:
1: Preparation of material will be done by ‘Curation specialists . . whose job it is to work with AI machines to author and identify the most appropriate material for particular student profiles.’ p.189
2: Organisation of the learning space: ‘Separate classrooms will disappear in time and replaced by pods and wide open, flexible spaces which can be configured for individual and flexible collective learning. Sensors will monitor individual students, measuring their physiological and psychological state, picking up on changes faster and more accurately than any teacher could.’ p.191
3: Presentation of material to optimise learning/deeper understanding: ‘The flexibility of visual representation with AI allows material to be presented to students which renders much teacher exposition redundant.’ p.192
4: Setting assignments and assessing/self-assessing progress: ‘Advances in real-time assessment enabled by AI will virtually eliminate this waiting period [the time lag between students being assessed and them receiving feedback on their performance} and ensure feedback comes when most useful for learning.’ pp.194-5.
5: Preparation for terminal examinations and writing summative reports: ‘All this will be swept away by AI. . . . In its place will be attention to continuous data reporting, and real time feedback that will help students discover how to learn autonomously and how to address any deficiencies on their own.’ p.196
Some of the recent AI powered tools that can help manage the diversity in a class are: speech to text can be used to create the text script of every lecture taken by a teacher with perhaps enough text analysis to aid comprehension, permitting learners to spend the class time trying to comprehend the lecture rather than making notes.
Automatic real time machine translation can help all those learners who are challenged by the language of instruction in the class, and this AI enabled tool can be a great equaliser.
AI will change however the job of the teacher forever. By supporting teaching in all their five traditional tasks, AI will usher in the biggest change the profession has ever seen.’ p.206. Interestingly Seldon recognises that remote teaching is a distinct possibility: ‘Imminent advances in virtual technologies will mean too that teachers no longer have to be physically present to offer their services.’ p.206
While not using education as a context, a recent 2019 book by Richard Baldwin with the title “ The Globotics Upheaval: Globalization, Robotics and the future of work” draws attention to this possibility of Remote Intelligence and Artificial Intelligence Disruptively transforming the ……
The US President’s executive order on AI: https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/executive-order-maintaining-american-leadership-artificial-intelligence/
issued on February 11th 2019, at section 1(c) states :
1(c) The United States must train current and future generations of American workers with the skills to develop and apply AI technologies to prepare them for today’s economy and jobs of the future.
This has been in response to China’s aggressive push to lead in the AI space by 2030, for which in addition to R&D, patents and implementation, China has brought AI education into Schools as well.
While planning to flourish and prosper in the 4th Industrial Age, it is important to keep the following aspects of the transition:
1: From scarcity and stability of information/knowledge to an overwhelming abundance in quantity and an exponential growth rate
2: From using technology for scaling to using technology for personalisation with space shift, device shift and time shift
3: From grading to a Bell curve to guidance for continuous improvement and achieving mastery learning
4: From age and stage specific learning to lifelong learning, with AI enabled recommendations for what is worth learning at any point in life
5: A complete transformation of the educator profession. They will ‘educate’ humans and ‘train’ software.
6: AI awareness should be a citizen movement much like mobile usage was earlier.
7: While at School, there is a six month program “ Learning to Learn AI” for students at classes 11 and 12. This is available from July 2019 for both boys and girls. It comprises 24 modules, each of which can be transacted over a week using Whatsapp on mobiles.
8: Schools, communities and families can set up “ AI experience centres” with infrastructure and resources for hands on learning. Popular devices such as Raspberry Pi, Amazon Deeplens and Intel’s Movidius Neural compute stick …..
9: The pedagogy of learning AI at School builds upon the work of Sugata Mitra observing the self-learning abilities of children when provided opportunities for exploration now called “SOLE” for Self-Organised Learning Environment.
10: This mission of bringing AI to Schools is driven by a community of committed School teachers seeded at NCR-Delhi but expanding to a Pan India Forum. The teacher model is inspired by an idea proposed by Sir John Daniel almost 2 decades back. We are doing short intensive face to face sessions followed by online support for continuous development.