Most likely, education takes first place on the list of sectors and industries that the novel coronavirus has drastically shifted. Remote education has recently become a global standard, and in many countries students, no matter if they are attending primary schools or colleges, learn online. What we are especially interested in, though, is AI in education, especially that remote one. How can artificial intelligence help when it comes to remote education? Let’s find out.
When it comes to AI in education, we primarily see a multitude of AI-fueled applications and algorithms designed to aid students in the learning process. There are many teaching assistants based on artificial intelligence that help students track and measure their efforts. These can be, for instance, chatbots or NLP algorithms that assess each student’s work or Computer Vision to help with homework.
On the other hand, AI can support teachers and instructors as well. Thanks to this technology, each student’s data can easily be shared with the teacher. As a result, teachers can save hundreds of hours spent on collecting data (because there’s no need to do this work manually). Next, AI algorithms can help them assess each student’s progress, weaknesses, and strengths. Applications like Century Tech use AI to analyze student engagement and responses to help teachers and education administrators understand how their students learn and what progress they make.
Moreover, this app has been adjusted to help students during the pandemic. In a curated version of Century’s, English, math, and science courses covering all the key topics for years 3-11 are available for free. As a result, children can learn from home with this AI-fueled software that tailors learning resources to their skills and knowledge.
Successful cooperation between a teacher and AI in education
Artificial intelligence has been present in the educational system for several years now. This technology’s main idea, especially in remote education, is to support teachers in individualized learning, automation of administrative and repetitive tasks, and providing support outside the classroom. Indeed, AI fills gaps in learning and teaching and allows schools and teachers to do more than ever before, even in times of pandemic. Let’s take a closer look at how AI supports teachers.
Today, many educational tools are based on digital platforms that use AI to provide learning, testing, and feedback to students from kindergarten up to college level. These platforms are designed to give students challenges they are ready for, identify gaps in knowledge, and redirect new topics when appropriate.
For example, Carnegie Learning has developed an EdTech learning platform called MATHia. It’s a powerful adaptive learning math software. In 2020 it won “Best Artificial Intelligence Solution” in The EdTech Awards. This platform uses AI and cognitive science to mirror a human tutor. It provides a simple-to-use, personalized learning experience for every student, supporting students who are struggling, while, on the other hand, challenging those who are ready for more complicated tasks.
When it comes to remote learning, we have to take into account the needs of various students. Even those who speak different languages or may have visual or hearing impairments. Again, AI comes to the rescue. Did you know that there is a specific add-in for MS PowerPoint called Presentation Translator that helps with precisely this challenge? This tool enables presenters to display live, translated subtitles. As the teacher is speaking, the app allows them to display subtitles directly in their PowerPoint presentation. What’s incredibly exciting–it’s available in over 60 supported languages. This app handles up to 100 audience members, so it’s more than enough for any class or group of students. Students can follow along with the presentation in their own language, and it’s accessible on their own phone, tablet, or computer.
AUTOMATION OF REPETITIVE TASKS
Every teacher knows how a large amount of time it takes to grade homework and tests. Thankfully, AI can help! In fact, machines can already grade multiple-choice tests, and we can expect that they will soon be able to assess written assignments. After all, we already have the technology that allows AI algorithms to “translate” handwriting into digital characters. A great example of such a tool is Bakpax. It’s an auto-grading tool. Bakpax uses AI to read handwriting and grade assignments. With this tool, teachers can create and distribute work to their students. When students complete and upload their projects on their devices, Bakpax will automatically grade them, give instant feedback, and provide teachers with detailed performance information.
This tool is just perfect for remote education. Not only it accelerates teacher’s work, but it also helps them in communication with students and supporting them in their efforts, even if it happens outside the classroom.
AI in education – teaches and prepares for the future
One of the significant fields of modern education where AI can help is K-12 education. For our readers outside North America, we ought to explain that K-12 stands for grades from kindergarten (K) through the 12th grade. In other words, everything before college.
First of all, we have to state that the value of IT, AI, and coding education in primary schools can never be overrated. As you know from our previous blog posts, AI still suffers from workforce shortages. And that’s a global problem! That’s why schools should start teaching students these new abilities as quickly as possible. What can be done to interest young people in artificial intelligence? Make it fun!
Many students are interested in creating chatbots or voice assistants; something that works and interacts with them. Naturally, in primary school, you have to start with something simple. Thankfully, there are several tools you can use. And the vast majority of them can be easily adjusted to remote education. For example, many schools utilize a simple coding site like Scratch that allows children to create their own interactive character or a program for creating an Alexa skill.
The next important aspect of AI in education is related to the fact that primary schools have an immense responsibility when it comes to supporting children’s cognitive development. However, reality shows that this goal is hard to achieve. For starters, schools struggle with large class sizes, which makes it almost impossible for a teacher to pay the same attention to each child. And this is where AI comes into play!
Slackwood Elementary School in New Jersey is using ML-aided teaching assistants to help children improve their math skills. The first great results are already visible. These assistants (called Happy Numbers) have helped the first-grade students to improve the benchmark math scores. At the beginning of the year, 60% of the students scored a preliminary benchmark math score of 9 out of 48. After just one year of using Happy Numbers, nearly all the students improved their scores to a 35.
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SESAME STREET TEACHES VOCABULARY
Here’s another fascinating example of AI in education. In 2016, IBM and Sesame Workshop (the non-profit organization behind the Sesame Street show) announced that they work together on a line of cognitive apps, games, and educational toys.
According to IBM, the app itself is built for preschool and kindergarten-aged children. It was built on the IBM and Sesame Intelligent Play and Learning Platform. This IBM Cloud-based platform is designed to take advantage of IBM Watson’s cognitive capabilities, which are then tied to Sesame Workshop’s understanding and expertise in the field of early childhood education.
Less than a year later, these two organizations showed their initial findings, and they were very promising! After collecting 18,000 assessments from multiple-choice questions over a two-week period, students appeared to acquire new vocabulary. What’s most interesting, many of the new words they’ve learned are considered above their grade level (like, for instance, “camouflage”).
AI in education – the most interesting applications
We would like to show you some of the fascinating applications of AI in education. As it happens, there are at least several promising projects going on.
NUANCE (Dragon NaturallySpeaking)
Nuance makes speech recognition software that is used by students and faculty. Their Dragon Naturally Speaking software is a true game-changer. It allows students to create documents, spreadsheets, and emails simply by speaking. According to Nuance, it’s three times faster than typing and delivers up to 99% accuracy. Such a solution can be especially helpful for students who struggle with writing or have limited mobility.
Knewton creates adaptive learning technology for higher education. Its program, called Alta, helps identify gaps in student’s knowledge, provides relevant coursework, and places students back on track for college-level courses. In fact, Alta is a complete courseware solution that combines the company’s adaptive learning technology with high quality, openly available content to deliver a personalized learning experience that improves student outcomes.
COGNII (Virtual Learning Assistant)
According to the company behind this project, Cognii Virtual Learning Assistant (VLA) is the only virtual assistant that is designed and optimized for educational conversations. VLA is an intelligent tutoring system that engages learners in real-time. This assistant employs conversational technology to guide students in open-format responses. Moreover, VLA uses learners’ own natural language, not their selections in multiple-choice items, as the basis for assessment.
It’s a UK-based company that concentrates primarily on augmented reality and computer vision. They combine computer vision intelligence technology and augmented reality to enhance the way students learn in the classroom. The interactive materials bring subjects like geography, biology, or physics to a new level. For example, instead of reading about the water cycle, students can observe a virtual 3D model of this process.
Will AI in education ever replace teachers?
Similar questions come up frequently when we talk about AI. Will it eventually replace human workers? The answer is no, at least in the foreseeable future. That relates to education as well. You see, human-to-human interaction also plays a significant role in young people’s development and education. For instance, schools should also develop soft and social skills like teamwork, not just math or geography. That’s why teachers and instructors are and will be indispensable.
But what we can expect is AI in education to become more and more sophisticated, facilitating the education process and taking the burden of repetitive tasks off teachers’ heads.
If you run a school or other educational institution and are interested in utilizing AI in education–we are at your service! We will gladly show you all the possibilities that await you and your students. Drop us a line, and let’s talk!
 Century. Parents & Guardians. URL: https://www.century.tech/explore-century/parents/. Accessed Sep 3, 2020.
 Businesswire. MATHia® by Carnegie Learning Wins “Best Artificial Intelligence Solution” in The EdTech Awards 2020. May 13, 2020. URL: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200513005646/en/MATHia%C2%AE-Carnegie-Learning-Wins-%E2%80%9CBest-Artificial-Intelligence. Accessed Sep 3, 2020.
 Microsoft. Presentation Translator. URL: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/garage/profiles/presentation-translator/. Accessed Sep 3, 2020.
 Bakpax. Remote Learning with Bakpax. URL: https://www.bakpax.com/e-learning-with-bakpax/. Accessed Sep 3, 2020.
 Eli Zimmerman. Teachers Are Turning to AI Solutions for Assistance. June 28, 2018. URL: https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2018/06/teachers-are-turning-ai-solutions-assistance. Accessed Sep 3, 2020.
 Sarah Perez. Sesame Workshop and IBM team up to test a new A.I.-powered teaching method. June 7, 2017. URL: https://techcrunch.com/2017/06/07/sesame-workshop-and-ibm-team-up-to-test-a-new-a-i-powered-teaching-method/. Accessed Sep 3, 2020.