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Dr. Tirath Virdee

AI in Education is changing how we learn and teach with far reaching implications.

Tirath Virdee, Director of Artificial Intelligence at Capita, looks ahead over the next five to ten years at the changes AI might enable.

1. AI is changing the student lifecycle

AI-enabled data gathering is changing how colleges interact with prospective and current students. From recruiting to helping students choose courses, logic and AI-based computer systems are helping to tailor the experience to the students’ (and college’s) needs and goals. Initiatives are also underway at some schools to offer students AI-guided training to ease the transition between secondary education and universities.

2. AI will enable more distance learning

Using AI systems, software, and support, students can learn from anywhere in the world at any time, and with these kinds of programs taking the place of certain types of classroom instruction, AI may just replace teachers in some instances.

3. Grading automation enabled by AI

Many teachers express frustration at the time that marking and grading work consumes, when they could be interacting with students, preparing for class, or working on their professional development instead. While AI may not ever be able to truly replace human grading, it’s getting close. It’s now possible for teachers to automate grading for nearly all kinds of multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank testing. So automated grading of student writing may not be far behind.

4. Learning pathways enabled by AI

From nursery to college and university, one of the ways Artificial Intelligence will impact education is through the application of greater levels of customised learning. Some of this is already happening through growing numbers of adaptive learning programs, games and software. These systems respond to the needs of the student, putting greater emphasis on certain topics, repeating things that students haven’t mastered, and generally helping students to work at their own pace, whatever that may be. 

5. Improvements to educational resources flagged by AI

Teachers may not always be aware of gaps in their lectures and educational materials that can leave students confused about certain concepts. Artificial Intelligence offers a way to solve that problem. Coursera, a massive open online course provider, is already putting this into practice. When many students are found to submit the wrong answer to a homework assignment, the system alerts the teacher and gives future students a customized message that offers hints to the correct answer. 

6. AI tutors

While there are obviously things that human tutors can offer that machines can’t, at least not yet, the future could see more students being tutored by tutor bots.  Some AI tutor bots already exist and can help students through basic mathematics, writing, and other subjects. These programmes can teach students fundamentals, but so far aren’t ideal for helping students learn high-order thinking and creativity, something that real-world teachers are still required to facilitate. 

7. Better interactions with necessary information

We rarely even notice the AI systems that affect the information we see and find on a daily basis. Google adapts results to users based on location, for example, and nearly all web ads are geared toward your interests and shopping preferences. These kinds of intelligent systems play a big role in how we interact with information in our personal and professional lives and could just change how we find and use information in schools and academia as well.  Students in the future may have vastly different experiences doing research and looking up facts than the students of today.

8. Impact of AI on the role of the teacher

Given the wide definition of what a teacher is, there will always be a role for teachers in education. However, that role will definitely change. As already discussed, AI can take over tasks like grading and may be a substitute for real-world tutoring. Yet AI could be adapted to many other aspects of teaching as well. AI systems could be programmed to provide expertise, serving as a place for students to ask questions and find information. In most cases, AI will shift the role of the teacher to that of facilitator. Teachers will supplement AI lessons, assist students who are struggling, and provide human interaction and hands-on experiences for students. 

9. AI can make students find their own strengths 

The possibilities of trying out a large number of courses before deciding which one suits an individual will become a whole lot easier. Students will also no longer need to worry about failing early on or having to answer to a figure of authority.  This way a student may be able to find their vocation more quickly and with greater impact. An intelligent system, designed to help students to learn, is a much less daunting way to deal with trial and error. Artificial intelligence could offer students a way to experiment and learn in a relatively judgment-free environment, especially when AI tutors can offer solutions for improvement. 

10. AI, student data and special needs

The interactions between the student and the courses is a gold mine. Simply by applying AI, it will be possible not only to offer them a better pathway through the educational resources, but one may be able to spot particular types of ability early and offer the possibility to nurture the students in a specialised way.

Written by


Tirath Virdee

Director of Artificial Intelligence at Capita

Tirath has real-world experience in both researching and applying Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence in many diverse fields; this includes the environment, agriculture, education, social security, financial services, human resources, smart cities and law enforcement.

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