AI is a technology that is still in its developing stage but it can help education create an environment for kids that they will enjoy. When it comes to education and technology the only thing that was present at the schools at the end of the 20th century was computers in our computer lab and a television in the media lab. Well that all my school had. Its kind is still the same just that the television has become smarter, computers have become a bit too powerful and fast, kids have smart phones and i-pads with them. Well that's not all the change, the introduction of AI in schools and colleges is now not a farfetched things, the hype is now real. AI is not taking away anything from the classroom; rather it is making the classroom experience what every adult today wanted as a child. The benefits of AI in education systems are plenty.
Given that everything tech-based is so fast-paced; the need of the hour is to quickly prepare the workforce of the future who can work with AI. It is also crucial to reskill the current force so that they can utilise AI to improve both the learning and the teaching experience.
AI in the Classroom
Though it is still too soon to start seeing robotics in classrooms, AI is already becoming an effective teaching tool because of its ability to adapt and offer customised curricula. AI-enabled tools help assess an individual's current level of understanding, identify gaps and offer tailored suggestions, just like a teacher would. Beginners can avail focused learning interventions; extract detailed progress reports; and basis that create a personalised learning path. Additionally, teachers can use online messaging boards for peer-to-peer learning, asking questions and connecting with contemporaries. Machine learning and artificial learning algorithms can also be used to create customised learning materials for students.
The existing course material can be analysed to create textbooks, chapter summaries, questions and reports, centered on understanding concepts rather than reading. Teachers can upload assignments on the AI platform to sort, evaluate and grade multiple assignments and obtain a detailed analysis of the areas where a student is weak.
India and AI
The government has set up a task force with a comprehensive plan to boost the AI sector and leverage the capabilities associated with related- technologies, infrastructure, data usage and research. Apart from governmental initiatives, certain institutes are progressively utilising AI to enhance their learning processes and provide quality education to students at par with international colleges.
In the future, AI will greatly transform the education landscape by bringing about major disruptions in the teaching and learning methodologies and improving the student-teacher experience. For instance, in the next few years AI tutors could provide support beyond school and college, resulting in people having a personalised lifelong learning companion. However, right now India is far from competing globally due to lack of skills and poor infrastructure to support AI technology.
We already employ tools that provide one-on-one AI-enabled tutoring to each student and in every subject. Our current technologies can provide intelligent support to learners working in a group by creating VR learning environments.
Leveraging Public-Private Partnerships
Providing universal access to education while ensuring quality is not easy. However, coupling AI with data science can fulfil the need to provide quality and affordable education. Massive data sets can be used to gain insights, which the government bodies can use to visualise impact and act accordingly.
According to Niti Ayog, the Indian government needs to join hands with private players to leverage AI to address the challenges related to affordability, access, shortage and skill gaps in various sectors, including education. Although, the AI learning curve is steep, some work has already started in this area with IITs partnering with MHRD to democratise education through the IIT-PAL initiative to create an AI-powered education sector catering to students in smaller cities and towns.
The central government could offer fellowships, PHDs and research grants for the development of this ground-breaking initiative. Additionally, a PPP model can help in setting up AI labs and attracting private investment. Earlier this year, as a part of the Digital India program, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced an investment of Rs 30.7 billion in setting up 'Centers of Excellence' that will focus on research, big data analysis, quantum communication and IOT to improve digital literacy in the country.
Adhering to the concept of Every time, Everywhere Education, the government has also launched a website with 244 Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), covering aspects like AI, data analytics, etc.
For AI-platforms to perform better it needs more data. The more you use the platform, the more intelligent it gets. Therefore, we need NGOs to add data to resolve problems at the bottom of the pyramid.
In the end, with the government's assistance, by addressing the current gaps and through the right partnerships with private players, AI can drive India towards its social and economic goals.