Innovation in education: the algorithm for meta-learning:

“ Innovation in education : the algorithm for meta-learning “

Aide de memoir for my presentation in session 6 of the 49th NPSC annual conference on 5th March 2022. 

  • The overarching theme is “ Bridging the gap for sustainable and inclusive learning”. The SDGs ( sustainable development goals) which were set up in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly (UN-GA) and are intended to be achieved by the year 2030. Goal 4 of these, pertaining to education is to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning  opportunities for all”. SDG 4 has ten targets which are measured by 11 indicators. The slow progress in achieving SDG Goal 4 so far is reminiscent of another important target, about 140 years back.
  • The U.S. Constitution requires that a population count be conducted at the beginning of every decade. This has been happening since the year 1790. As the country grew, each new census required greater effort than the last, not merely in collecting the data but also to compile it into usable form. For the processing of the 1880 data, it was realised that it was nowhere near completion until 1888. It was then that a new technology of Hollerith punched card was introduced and the count then proceeded so rapidly that the work was completed very soon. This later evolved into the famous IBM company. IBM led the way in perfecting card technology for recording and tabulating large sets of data for a variety of purposes.
  • The topic for this session is “ Innovation in education : the algorithm for meta-learning “. And such algorithms are ‘ learning algorithms’, that drive Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. 
  • A learning algorithm is best defined in the book “ Machine Learning” by Thomas Mitchell: “A computer program is said to learn from experience E with respect to some class of tasks T and performance measure P, if its performance at tasks in T, as measured by P, improves with experience E.”
  • Tom Mitchell’s quote is well-known and time-tested in the world of machine learning, having first appeared in his 1997 book. The quote also features prominently in Chapter 5 of the much more recent (2015) “Deep Learning” by Ian Goodfellow, Joshua Bengio & Aaron Courville. 
  • The SDGs were set up in the year 2015. In January 2016, Prof Klaus Schwab chief of the WEF drew attention to the arrival of the 4th Industrial revolution driven by AI and machine learning. And Andrew Ng said that AI is the new electricity. 
  • In the year 2018, Sir Anthony Seldon in his book “ The fourth education revolution” pointed out that there have been only 3 education revolutions so far and the 4th one is unfolding right now, driven by AI and machine Learning, in which educators must take an active role and not just be passive observers. 
  • The futurist Thomas Frey ( ) said that “ If we continue to insert a teacher between ourselves and everything that we want to ( or need to) learn we cannot possibly learn fast enough to meet the demands of the future.” 
  • The future is already here. It’s just not very evenly distributed, said William Gibson: The Economist, December 4, 2003”
  • It is inevitable that what was once the distant  future will become the present, very soon, whether we are prepared for it or not. 
  • To achieve the desired goal of a high quality education for all, we have to first move from the art of teaching to the Science of learning.  And the Science of learning is best built upon neuroscience. To scale the solution we need to use intelligent automation, or Artificial Intelligence as it is more popularly called.
  • There was a time when long tedious calculations were done by humans, who were formally designated as computers. This is no longer so. Similarly human teachers standing in front of a class, delivering lectures to a prescribed syllabus will be automated and the erstwhile educators will move up to the more important role of cognitive development facilitators. 
  • Today there are over six billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide, and for every one person who accesses the internet from a computer two do so from a mobile device. Given the ubiquity and rapidly expanding functionality of mobile technologies, UNESCO is enthusiastic about their potential to improve and facilitate learning, particularly in communities where educational opportunities are scarce. AI powered language learning Apps such as Duolingo, Thinkster Maths for Maths and Gradescope for assessment would help in scaling. AI powered Chatbots as personal tutors and Ecole 42 as communities of learning would evolve to the new learning ecosystem that can help achieve the targets of SDG Goal 4, like the Hollerith punched cards did for the US Census, about 130 years ago. 
  • The future of education is AI empowered self-directed learners in a community of chatbots and cognitive development facilitators, preparing to meet future challenges in a rapidly evolving world.  

About mmpant

Prof. M.M.Pant has a Ph.D in Computational Physics, along with a Professional Law Degree, and has been a practitioner in the fields of Law, IT enabled education and IT implementation. Drawing upon his experience in world class international institutions and having taught in various modes of Face-to-Face, Distance Learning and Technology Enhanced Training, Prof. Pant is now exploring the nature of institutions which will be successors to the IITs, which represented the 1960s, IIMs, which represented the 1970 and Open Universities which were the rage of 1980s & 90s. He believes that the convergence between various media and technologies would fundamentally alter the way learning would be created, packaged, and delivered to learners. His current activities are all directed toward actual implementation of these new age educational initiatives that transform education in the post Internet post WTO era.. Prof. Pant, has been a Former Pro-Vice Chancellor, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and has been on the faculty of IIT – Kanpur (the premier Engineering institution in India), MLNR Engineering College and Faculty & Visiting Professor - University of Western Ontario-Canada. He has been visiting scientist to research centers in Italy, England, Germany & Sweden and has delivered international lectures with about 80 papers published. During his association of almost 15 years with the IGNOU, Prof. Pant has served as the Director Computing and has been the Member of All Bodies (i.e. School boards, Academic council, Planning board, Finance committee and the Board of management). With his interest in Law, backed with practice of Law in a High Court, and his basic training in Science and IT, Prof. Pant has been particularly interested in the Cyber Law, Patent & trade mark issues, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) issues etc. and has been involved with many activities, conferences on “Law & IT” Prof. Pant is presently; • Advisor to Media Lab Asia - Chairman of working group on ICT for Education, chairman of PRSG handling projects on ICT for education. • Lead Consultant for an ADB funded project for ICT in Basic Education in Uzbekistan • Member of the drafting Group for India’s National Policy on ICT in education • Chairman of the group creating books for class 11 and 12 students on ‘Computers and Communication Technology’ appointed by the NCERT • Preparing a ‘Theme Paper” for the NCTE in the area of ICT and Teacher Training • Advisor and mentor to several leading Indian and Multi-national Companies in the area of education. Prof. Pant has in the recent past been ; • Member – Board of Management – I I T, Delhi for 6 years (two consecutive terms) • One-man committee to create the Project Report & Legislation for Delhi IT-enabled Open University • Advisor to the Delhi Government on Asian Network of Major Cities Project (ANMC-21) distance learning project in association with Tokyo Metropolitan Government. • Chairman Board of Studies, All India Management Association With his mission to create and implement new business opportunities in the area of e-learning & learning facilitation, Prof. Pant has promoted Planet EDU Pvt. Ltd., as its Founder & Chairman, along with a team of highly experienced and skilled professionals from Education & Training, Operations, IT and Finance.
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