An increasingly large number of futurists warn this society about the evils of artificial intelligence, or AI. However, most of them agree that AI, scary as it may be, will perform wonders in some fields. These include medical breakthroughs and a revolution in the world of education. With planes on autopilot to robotic doctors with impeccable efficiency, the world is poised at a threshold. This threshold was similar to that when the first few computers were built, but the impact that AI can have on this world is far greater than any other invention before.
Today, AI is in its infancy. Yet it is helping us slowly transform the way education is created, consumed and tested. Recent research predicts that the use of AI in the education sector will grow 47.5% through 2021. However, edtech start-ups are breaking all barriers by already using AI, machine learning and Big Data to change the very perception of education in India. How are they doing it?
Using AI to personalise learning speeds: One of the biggest challenges a teacher faces in a classroom is to pace the delivery of their lectures at a speed that is suitable for a batch of 30-40 students. Some are quicker at grasping than others, and the most that teachers could do is move at a pace designed for the average student. This means that some would soon get bored of the slow pace, while others would always be playing catch-up. AI assists interact with students and predict their learning speed through past behaviour. They then adjust course speed and presentation at a pace that is optimal for each learner.
Using AI to personalise questions: Different students have different learning speeds and methods. This means they also retain information differently. As a result, serving a single question paper to a large set of students does not optimally help every individual. Some students would find the questions easy, while others would struggle at answering. At Toppr, we use both machine learning and AI to map out a student’s strengths and weaknesses. Individual learning speeds and records are taken into consideration. These tests are designed to boost a child’s confidence in areas they excel in and challenge them in areas they don’t. This holistic approach helps children remain motivated.
Using AI to solve doubts: No matter how hard students have studied during the year, they still end up studying late the night before their exams. Some students are attuned to studying in the wee hours of the morning, while others late into the night. Tutors and peers might not always be available all the time, but AI can help make matters easier. Edtech start-ups have introduced the option of solving doubts on chat, and AI has largely helped facilitate this. Students simply click a picture of their doubt and upload it onto the chatbot. The bot then looks through a vast database of questions for similar questions and suggests solution. If a similar question is unavailable, the student can talk to a human expert. But, with every question uploaded, the database simply increases, and the bot’s efficiency to solve doubts increases, too.
Not only does AI help edtech start-ups provide better and more personalised education to students, it also helps in decreasing costs for the company. Instead of manually setting different question papers or solving two million doubts, AI can make the process faster and easier. This results in a win-win for both, the student and the company. The debate on the large-scale benefit of AI will still continue, but it is clear that AI will revolutionise the education industry in the near future.
The author is CEO, Toppr.com (an edtech start-up)