Summary: Artificial Intelligence transforms how we learn and work, potentially making e-learning smarter, faster, and cheaper. This article explores the future of AI in online learning, how it is shaping education and the potential drawbacks and risks associated with it.
AI is one of the game-changers in education. It is changing the trajectory of how we learn and work, much like the Industrial Revolution changed our lives in the late 18th century.
According to Gaurav Perti, the CEO of PurpleTutor, “Use of A.I. in education is expected to grow annually by 45%. The role of A.I. in the years to come will shape the education industry and the benefit will be for the learner."
While Global Market Insights reported that AI in education will surpass $6 billion by 2024.
In the near future, AI systems can disrupt online education, providing everyone, regardless of age, race, and background, with the opportunity to access knowledge and learn online.
AI can help education become smarter, faster, and cheaper. It is already happening, and we can expect it to grow exponentially in the future.
In this article, we will answer the question:
- How is AI dramatically shaping elearning?
- What is the biggest risk of AI in education, and its drawbacks?
- What does the future of AI look like?
Before that, let's first understand what AI is, what it does, and what its promises are.
Understanding Artificial Intelligence: What it does
AI stands for "Artificial Intelligence". It mimics human intelligence, such as movements, thinking, and perception, by being fed large amounts of data to complete a certain task. AI can be trained and programmed to perform a wide variety of tasks, just like humans.
For a simpler explanation, I asked ChatGPT, an AI bot, to explain what AI means to a 5-year-old child.
The Promise of AI: Make learning faster, smarter, and cheaper
AI promises us three major benefits in education: faster learning, smarter learning, and cheaper learning.
Its limitless capabilities and improvements mean we can only imagine what AI may do in the future and how it will affect humanity. Already, AI-powered educational apps and software are making these benefits a reality.
Let's look at the impact of AI in elearning, how it's speeding up the learning process, and making elearning accessible to everyone.
How AI is dramatically shaping online learning
To answer the question of what the future of AI looks like in the e-learning industry, let's first examine the ways Artificial Intelligence is transforming elearning.
AI creates personalized learning paths
Personalization is essential for student success. AI has solved this problem through adaptive learning.
Adaptive Learning is when education becomes personalized to students’ different learning styles. It is widely used today to improve how learners learn in the classroom. It is really difficult for teachers to assure that each of their students is learning effectively when they are in big cohorts or large classroom sizes.
In technical terms, adaptive learning uses machine learning algorithms to change materials in real time based on the preference and response of the learner.
Personalized learning paths are about providing the right content to the right person at the right time. These are prevalent in corporate training. This is often referred to as the "Netflix of Education" or "self-directed learning." Corporations build their own learning platforms with the help of software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms, commonly known as Learning Experience Platforms (LXPs), to offer a self-directed learning approach to their employees.
AI speeds up online course creation & automates content production
Nowadays, teaching and learning online are easier than ever. Reports indicate that teachers spend more than 50% of their time on paperwork, grading tests, assigning homework, preparing progress reports, and organizing course materials and resources for classes.
This was the scenario decades ago, but not today.
There are hundreds to thousands of software solutions that help educators, instructional designers, and course creators customize learning and optimize courses. These elearning platforms are commonly called “Learning Management Systems” (LMSs), and they speed up the creation process of courses and training in different topics, areas, and subjects.
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Although some LMSs are not AI-based, you can use AI applications to scale up your elearning courses and create learner-centric learning environments.
For instance, you can write a course with a help of AI chatbots, use textbook content that is turned into videos, and automate grading and assessments to track learners' progress. You can also use AI-powered language translators to translate your content into different languages.
AI as virtual tutors and virtual assistants
When a student struggles to understand a topic, parents often turn to tutor services. With AI, tutoring is now accessible through apps such as BartleBy and MATHiaU, providing students with 24/7 support.
Virtual facilitators or AI assistants are another AI innovation; some universities are already testing and launching virtual and augmented reality apps to help students learn and teachers teach.
Recently, OpenAI released ChatGPT, an AI bot that can act as a personal assistant, answering almost any type of question. However, this new technology has received criticism and drawbacks, such as cheating in classrooms and essay writing.
Despite these drawbacks, this AI tool has the potential to revolutionize tutoring and digital learning in the coming years. We may soon see robot tutors that act as personal assistants, doing and creating any kind of task for humans. These mind-blowing effects are due to the mingling of AI techniques, data training, and activation functions of the ML models.
It is important to note that these AI technologies are not here to replace teachers. They are here to provide personalized assistance to students since a personalized learning experience requires more effort to achieve.
AI as a mental health support
One of the biggest challenges we face today is the mental health of learners. With the rapid advancement of technology, it is undeniable that humans, particularly students, are affected by the ever-changing society.
Gen Zs and Millennials are having difficulty coping with the stressors in society that greatly impact their mental health.
Paradoxically, AI systems can also help us solve this challenge. With the use of AI, Woebot helps its users understand their emotions with intelligent mood tracking. This innovation can increase the possibility of chatbot-enabled counseling for mental health support, particularly for learners.
The Biggest Risk of using AI in Education
Biases of AI algorithms
In some cases, incorrect modeling of AI algorithms can lead to large discrepancies in student learning. For example, there was a case where AI wrongly predicted a student's performance due to their race and social background, putting their reputation at risk.
Another risk is that teachers may rely too heavily on AI capabilities instead of their own judgment when assessing student progress and performance. In other words, AI algorithms can create more problems and challenges if not modeled correctly and ethically.
Ethics in AI Education
Ethics of AI in general is a major concern for researchers and experts. Ethics should be considered from the start of data collection to the deployment of algorithms.
Ethics in AI in education and learning is even more critical, as stakeholders such as learners, teachers, parents, and educational institutions lack awareness of how AI can go wrong in an educational context.
The biggest drawbacks include machine learning modeling deficiencies, discrimination against certain groups, and the exploitation of personal data due to a lack of awareness among stakeholders.
Potential loss of human interaction and support
If you remember the impact the pandemic has had on our mental health due to isolation, loss of human interaction and support, extensive use of technology has the potential to have the same effect.
Relying on AI makes us forget to interact with humans in the future.
This can be counteracted through awareness and making AI technologies as human-friendly ilities as possible.
It's time to build the "right" ai-based tools for the e-learning industry through extensive research and evidence-based product applications
Dr. Philippa, a Learning Science expert, discussed the drawbacks of AI in the elearning industry. She highlighted the current shortcomings of online education to create an effective learning model that aligns with how humans learn.
To address this, she suggested building tools to motivate learners, foster knowledge-building, and deepen understanding. These ideas and best practices may help us use AI's risks and drawbacks to create the right products that are ethical and friendly to learners.
What Does the Future Look Like with AI?
The role of AI is becoming increasingly prevalent in our daily lives, with both advantages and disadvantages for students and for humanity. We can expect exponential growth in AI over the coming years. We can only predict the future by addressing the risks and drawbacks associated with AI and turning them into ethical educational solutions.
On a positive note, there is potential for AI to create a better future for all of us, with the right products, investments, and policies. We can remain hopeful that the future of AI in online learning is bright.
Watch: How China is Using Artificial Intelligence in Classrooms