Understanding AI’s role in online education

By Samiksha Mehra

Highlights

The emergence of digital learning technologies has come to the rescue during this pandemic, which has suspended face-to-face teaching, among other aspects of our normal life.

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The emergence of digital learning technologies has opened up the education sector to a whole world of opportunities. It has also come to the rescue during this pandemic which has suspended face-to-face teaching, among other aspects of a normal life. While the traditional ways of living have fallen victim to the altered perceptions of normalcy, it is the socially impactful innovations that are helping the humankind in adjusting to the revised reality. Ed-tech is disruptive, for sure, but when combined with the power of AI on e-learning platforms, it escalates quickly- it weaves magic! 

Chatbots for ready 24*7 assistance: AI-powered chatbots act like personal tutors for students, capable of answering common questions and doubts at their disposal. By using NLP, these bots are designed to address the child’s queries as and when they arise, leading to better understanding and clarity of concepts. 

Customised lessons based on aptitude: Each child is unique and so are their learning capabilities, each of which requires a tailored pedagogical approach. This feat is achievable by deploying powerful ML algorithms, to ensure departure from the homogenous content as well as delivery methods. Taking into account the past performance of a child and personalising the difficulty levels of the lessons delivered to them, this one is to reiterate that one-size-doesn’t-fit-all.  

Regular and efficient assessments: Practice makes perfect, as we rightly know. AI-based modes of assessment, however, have the comparative advantage of precision over traditional offline methods. Carefully designed worksheets, that are targeted at narrowed topics and micro concepts, can give the students an unlimited practice to work on specific problem areas. 

Real-time evaluation: Performance tracking that is not only immediate but also comprehensive gives an explicit picture of the child’s progression. This works in contrast to the practice of result declaration at the end of an assessment cycle. Advanced AI-enabled evaluation tools base their marks on multiple metrics, hence, clearly highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the student’s performance. 

Real-time language translations: In a country with 22 scheduled languages and over nineteen thousand dialects, language must not be a barrier to the dissemination of knowledge. Real-time translations powered by AI’s NLP capabilities play a vital role in enabling the sharing of information and expertise in a country as diverse as India.

Accurate transcriptions for ready notes: Lectures taking place on online platforms have the flexibility of being recorded and accessed per convenience. These e-lectures can be automatically transcribed into any language, hence providing ready reference notes to students. This is a breakthrough feature because it takes futility out of note-taking, leaving the students to simply bookmark the relevant material. 

Automation of non-teaching elements: The teaching faculty are obligated to perform allied administrative tasks, sometimes at the cost of their teaching productivity. When summoned, AI can duly take over these extra responsibilities, such as preparing report cards, marking attendance and maintaining other records, leaving the teachers to do only what they do best.

When employed strategically and in unison, all of these various applications of AI in the education sector ultimately create more efficient systems conducive to greater quality learning outcomes.

Government-led initiatives

Already a widely-adopted solution, AI in ed-tech has crossed the inflexion point owing to the lockdown-induced acceleration of digital learning. Virtual modules of access to knowledge and learning are now servicing an even larger volume of students. The government has stepped up, too, to ensure the preparedness of the tech-led pedagogy to the pandemic’s imposition. Allocating the final tranche of the COVID-19 relief packages to the cause of ed-tech, the government has launched the e-Vidya program to promote online learning across the country. Under the scheme, top hundred institutes, including the IITs and IIMs have been permitted to begin online course modules. The scheme has also consolidated existing initiatives, such as DIKSHA and SWAYAM. While DIKSHA is the national digital infrastructure for school teachers, the SWAYAM platform is an MOOC for students from class 9 to Post Graduation that awards transferable credits. 

The state governments have not shied away from using AI-based solutions for bridging gaps in the education sector, either. The Rajasthan government, in partnership with the ed-tech startup Embibe, has been helping the tribal students crack the tough JEE and NEET exams. The same startup has also partnered with the Assam government to help the state board toppers prepare for competitive exams using the AI-enabled resources of the Embibe app. Touted as the world’s first AI-powered learning outcomes platform, Embibe aims to use its pathbreaking technology to give a level playing field and equitable opportunities to those on the lower end of the spectrum.

About the author

Samiksha

Samiksha Mehra

Samiksha is a freelance content and copywriter. Follow her work on samikshamehra.com

Image by Mudassar Iqbal from Pixabay 

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