Is the future of education in AI?

Is the future of education in AI?

AI teaching assistant platforms now allow teachers to engage students through personalized tutoring, grading, and feedback. Picture: Canvas

“Effective teaching is perhaps the hardest job there is,” said American psychiatrist William Glasser. Indeed, teachers bear the brunt of shaping every child’s formative years, a high-stakes role in society that ripples through the success of every other profession and industry.

But as the skills required of the worker become more diverse today, education has also become more complex. It made teaching more stressful than ever.

In September 2021, more than 80% of teachers said they had had a negative impact on their mental health, with 80.6% saying they worked more than 45 hours a week, The Straits Times reported. Many also said that their personal relationships and physical health suffered from the intensity of the teaching.

Mere pay raises no longer alleviate teachers’ workload problems, Today Online reported in August 2022. So what can help teachers extend and sustain their careers?

Enter the AI. “Teachers are one of the hardest workers of any profession. They take care of lesson planning, grading and meeting with parents. But if you want to talk about the actual teaching, many probably have screen time with their students for three hours a day,” says Koo Sengmeng, Senior Deputy Director of AI Singapore.

AI Singapore was launched in 2019 and operates as a long-term task force, bringing together ecosystem partners eager to inspire industries to adopt AI at scale, according to Koo.

On the education front, AI Singapore aims to strengthen national AI literacy and develop edutech by working with various classroom stakeholders and partners.

GovInsider sits down with Koo to find out how teachers can harness AI to focus more on teaching and less on teaching administration.

Replace tasks, not jobs

“Many have the preconception that AI replaces jobs, when in fact it replaces tasks,” Koo told GovInsider. Especially in teaching, arguably the most humanized profession in the world, teachers can rest assured that AI will never completely replace teaching jobs, Koo added.

Take for example Noodle Factory, an AI teaching assistant platform that allows teachers to engage students through personalized tutoring, grading and feedback in the form of AI chatbots, without the direct involvement of teachers. teachers.

“When we entered the education industry ourselves, one of the hardest things we found was how to scale what educators do. We’ve always needed to give personalized attention to each of our students because every student is different, but that’s usually not possible because there just isn’t enough time to do it,” said Yvonne Soh, CEO and Co-Founder of Noodle Factory at the AWS Public Industry Summit in October 2022.

Teachers can drop any of their lecture notes and textbooks onto the easy-to-use interface, and these materials will be processed and converted into a knowledge base using natural language processing. This knowledge base will then be delivered to students in the form of question-answer pairs via the conversational chatbot.

Students can ask the chatbot a question, and the platform will tap into the knowledge base to provide an answer without teachers having to get involved. Image: Noodle Factory

“It’s about helping rather than replacing. AI creates assessments and ‘FAQs’ – things that often take a lot of time for our teachers to do themselves,” Soh said. With these foundational tasks automated using AI, teachers have more control over what and how to move student learning forward.

Develop and integrate edutec

In terms of promoting education technology adoption, Koo says AI Singapore aims to build a “nationwide AI system” that is integrated directly into students’ existing learning spaces.

Currently, the Ministry of Education has developed a centralized student learning space (SLS) which consolidates teaching and learning resources as well as other academic materials. “While the current iteration of SLS still comes in the form of a basic learning management platform, we hope to complement it with intelligent recommendation and assessment systems,” says Koo.

As part of the national fight for digital literacy, every high school student will be equipped with a personal learning device by 2028. Extrapolated with AI capabilities, it’s not hard to imagine let the SLS serve as an intelligent teaching assistant for all teachers in public schools around the world. nation, says Koo.

AI Singapore is also pushing for AI to address other issues in the education sector, such as the gradual loss of native language fluency among new generations of Singaporeans.

Over the past decade, the percentage of English-speaking households has increased from 32.3% to 48.3%, according to the Singapore Department of Statistics. Consequently, this also means that the proportion of mother tongue households is decreasing. This lack of exposure at home makes children less fluent in their native language, CNA reported.

In 2019, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said this would cause Singapore’s bilingual workforce to lose its competitive edge. To address this, the AI ​​in Education Grand Challenge aims to foster AI innovation to improve mother tongue learning for primary school students in Singapore. Although the outcome of the challenge is specified, it is up to the teams to choose their own approach and execution of the project, Koo told GovInsider.

“Singapore is digitally transforming at different paces across industries, and it is important that we not only rely on top-down but also bottom-up approaches. As AI Singapore works at the ministerial level, classroom stakeholders and individual changemakers should work to start bringing AI into our schools,” says Koo.

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