It seems like almost every day there’s a new industry that’s being impacted by increasing automation.
First it was manufacturing. Then came market analysis. Today retail, customer service, and even transportation sectors are seeing a progressive shift towards a more automated workforce.
And education is beginning to feel the effects of increasingly advanced AI systems as well. New “adaptive learning” systems are demonstrating a range of benefits that, until recently, were thought impossible for any automated teaching system to achieve.
In fact, these models have become so impressive that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations have already created ten $100,000 grants to help improve these systems and implement them into higher education more quickly.
But what goes into a successful adaptive learning system and how are models like My Learning Machine and OLI changing the industry for the better?
The State of Automation in Education Today
Automation in the workplace is increasingly becoming just another part of life.
In fact, almost two-thirds of Americans believe most of the work currently done by humans will likely be replaced within 50 years.
And the truth is, they likely aren’t that far off the mark. Some studies predict that a whopping 38% of current U.S. jobs are at risk of being replaced by robots and artificial intelligence.
When it comes to the education field, researchers and developers are finding more effective ways of incorporating artificial intelligence systems into the classroom.
Adaptive learning, the umbrella term used to describe computer-based educational systems that can be used both online or offline, represents the future of education.
Not only do they offer a host of benefits that help support the intellectual growth of the student, they’re also incredibly scalable, unwaveringly standardized, and intelligently decisive.
Two adaptive learning systems that are helping to change the way educators inform their students are My Learning Machine from The Learning Underground and OLI, the Open Learning Initiative from Carnegie Mellon.
But in order to truly understand how adaptive learning systems like these are changing the way we learn, we need to look at some of the benefits behind these systems compared to traditional teaching methods.
Benefits of Adaptive Learning Systems
Adaptive learning systems carry with them a wide range of benefits, both inside the classroom and for educational institutions in general.
1. A High Degree of Personalization
Teaching is not just about delivering a lesson plan and grading tests. If that were the case, all students would need are a textbook and a Scantron machine. Instead, teaching is about engaging and motivating students to learn, both now and for the rest of their lives.
And the best way to inspire an appreciation of learning and to help a student succeed is by personalizing lesson plans to meet their specific needs. With the powerful data-processing abilities of adaptive learning technologies, systems like OLI and My Learning Machine can alter the way they deliver a lesson and cater to the learning styles of each student.
2. The Ability for Students to Work at Their Own Pace
Every educator knows that each student has their own learning pace that they’re comfortable with. The trick, however, is finding the right balance of pushing them enough to facilitate learning and holding back so as not to overwhelm and discourage them.
Adaptive learning systems analyze each student’s performance and learning trajectory and adjust their teaching methods accordingly to zero in on this perfect balance of motivation and comfort.
3. Proven Learning Strategies Backed by Data
One of the core components of nearly any adaptive learning system is an ability to collect, analyze, and adapt to the trends of large amounts of data.
Whether it’s gaps in learning with a certain lesson plan, redundancies in a unit, or even just a test question with wording that’s far too confusing, looking at the data behind every student interaction is one of the best ways to inform future decisions in an educational environment.
4. Tailored Student Support
The best way to teach a student how to evaluate and solve a problem is not simply by pointing them to the answer. Rather, a more effective tutor will help students discover the answer by teaching them to rethink their current strategies.
Many of the most sophisticated adaptive learning systems provide this guidance-based method of student support to help facilitate self-reliance, creativity, and critical thinking skills.
5. Custom Curriculum Development
Customized curriculums are a relatively new idea when it comes to education. Before the implementation of automated systems, it was largely unfeasible to develop individualized curriculums for each student as the teacher’s time and resources were limited.
With adaptive learning, systems can alter the educational path of a student in such a way to create a more effective learning experience and ensure their intellectual development is as efficient as possible.
6. Automated Teaching
This benefit can be quite attractive to higher educational systems for a number of reasons. In the first place, a fully automated adaptive learning model requires minimal support from educators and can save tens of thousands of dollars with regards to salary and benefits alone.
Beyond that though, automated teaching systems are near infinitely scalable. Whether the number of students in a class is ten or ten-thousand, automated teaching systems can bring a high-quality learning environment to anyone enrolled.
This makes adaptive learning ideal for non-location-specific online courses and can help give institutions of higher knowledge more resources with which to improve the educational experience.
Adaptive Learning: The Future of Education
It’s clear, then, that adaptive learning carries with it a variety of educational benefits aimed at making a knowledge environment as conducive to success and learning as possible. What’s more, educational institutions also benefit from these systems with decreased overhead, increased scalability, and more efficient teaching methods.
With all of these benefits, it’s only a matter of time before our educational system becomes just another industry run almost entirely by automation.