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Will robots takeover?

robo brainfeed

This is a question that is being asked by everyone. Will machine intelligence surpass human intelligence? Will technology get too powerful for our own good? With Internet of Things and the suite of related technologies making inroads into the educational firmament, it is no longer man versus machine but man along with machine.

When Rohit, a Class 11 student and aspiring computer scientist asked his Math teacher on the possibilities of courses on Artificial Intelligence (AI), the teacher did not sound apprehensive at all. “By the time you write your exam there would-be at least one university you can head to,” he said. The teacher was referring to the Bennet University focussed on AI. Then there is a master’s program in data sciences about to be rolled out in Mumbai University and the Government of India has just spelt out a strategy for Artificial Intelligence. India, not known for cutting-edge research is now opening up and even schools are looking to scale up and embrace the potential of Internet of Things. Several schools across the country are mulling of opening robotic labs, some have already started and the intent is quite clear. The clamour for AI has just about begun and race for supremacy is well and truly on its way.

Even as school managements are making amends and accommodating space, time and energy for AI, several state governments are harnessing the potential to tackle problems afflicting the education sector.

For instance, the government of Andhra Pradesh is using technology to predict dropout rates in government schools. Nikhil Agarwal, former CEO, Innovation Society, Government of Andhra Pradesh says that the future is going to be technology centric and foresees every school to have AIlabs. He adds, “The USA, Japan, Canada and China are ahead in harnessing AI but India has to catch up with the readily available talent.”NITI Aayog, the Government of India think-tank recently released a blueprint National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence focussing on five key sectors that include healthcare, education, smart cities, agriculture and transportation. So with AI gaining ground, the buzzis there for all to see and with it the fear of loss of jobs is also being talked about. Ramani Rao, a teacher remarked it is the right of every child to have individualised access to education and the idea of teachers becoming redundant is incorrect.

There is no way stopping them arch of technology in the digital age and those who do not join the bandwagon will simply perish says S R Mahesh, a computer scientist and dispels all fears of loss of jobs. He says, “On the contrary there would be new set of jobs that would be created. The issue would be of creating an infrastructure around the data collection.”

Technology is going to bring in far reaching changes in the field of education. Anshu Bhagi and Nikhila Ravi, computer scientists and edupreneurs who studied at Harvard University in mid 2017 co-founded a non-profit dedicated to promote and develop open source for education. Like them there are several young and talented minds using cutting-edge technology to make a difference in learning and teaching.

 How AI will help transform education?

Teach according to learner’s ability

The biggest worry of a teacher is to help all the 30-40 students in the class but a few grasp faster than others and a segment hardly get to understand even the basics. By harnessing data, AI can predict learning speed through past behaviour and teachers can adjust presentations to each student.

Question paper according to ability

Many students lose confidence due to low marks. The question paper is same for all students of varying abilities. AI helps map student’s strengths and weaknesses and individualised question papers would be prepared. Tests would be designed to boost confidence.

Changing the ecosystem

A suite of technologies like neutral networks, big data, pattern recognition, machine learning and development algorithms are harnessed to improve the whole school ecosystem.

How IoT is going to transform education?

  • Students can now interact with peers, mentors and educators worldwide using connected devices
  • Quick Response (QR) codes have made their way into the school textbooks. Feedback, assignments and additional knowledge resources become easily available to students
  • Data collection and analysis made easy: Students now use Radiofrequency identification (RFID) chips to tag and track physical objects
  • Collaborative work using smart phones
  • Greater safety in campuses
  • Streamlining day-to-day operations using Internet of Things

How technology is going to help teachers

Content analytics is going to be the game changer and will lessen the burden on teachers. Data gathered about students from their early life would help in future performance.

“Studying patterns would be the key and data is king,” says Manpreet, a Computer Science teacher. The data gathered about a student from Class 4 onwards would be able to exactly predict the learning trajectory and outcome. It would help teachers gain insights on learning and grasping pattern, aptitude and preferences. The machine would be able to predict who among the cohort are likely to do better and why. In short, the teacher as well as the student would be better equipped.

AI is going to assist stakeholders in all aspects of pedagogy, learning and administration. Ravikanth, a school administrator who is now a consultant and worked with several international schools says,

“Cognitive systems are not going to replace humans but enhance capabilities.”

Fragmented approach to education would pave way for problem solving approach. “Focus on specific branches or disciplines will have to go and one needs to look at the big picture,” says Nikhil Agarwal. He adds, “The perception that AI-related technologies would take away jobs is just a misconception and that it is too powerful for its own good is now changing as machine learning and big data are being used for better results.”

For decades, the education system has been saddled with a same approach. The delivery of lecture and examination has remained same, while the students diverse in their capabilities. What AI promises is to harness advanced computing power with algorithms and networks to recognize patterns. The concept of a ‘last bencher’ a ‘dull student’ will become a thing of the past as every student would be able to acquire knowledge as per his capability and time. Huge data sets will help in providing results to help the weakest child.

With the help of data interpretation and studying patterns, academic performance, school infrastructure and teaching skills could be measured for optimum results.


Global Survey, June 2018

A survey of 481 education leaders in 10 countries found a link between schools’ EdTech capabilities and their reported success in driving favorable learning outcomes

The survey evaluated 22 evidence based EdTech capabilities

The survey asked respondents to indicate their success in achieving or advancing outcomes including student test scores, teacher satisfaction, school rankings or ratings, and student career readiness.

  • Schools whose leaders indicated high outcomes also reported higher development in all 22 EdTech capabilities, especially those related to strategic and collaborative technology planning. Leaders who reported high outcomes in their schools were more likely to:
  • Have detailed technology visions and plans
  • Involve teachers and students in technology planning
  • Formally evaluate their technology’s effectiveness
  • On average, schools are less developed in several of the capabilities that show the greatest relative impact.
  • On average, schools are also not prioritizing several of the capabilities that show the greatest relative impact.

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