AI Technologies for Education Recent Research Future Directions. There is going to be a significant change in how people learn. There are new ways to interact with content thanks to artificial intelligence that are getting faster and better. Already, we can see how powerful AI can be. It serves billions of ads every day. Let’s look into how we can use the same technology to bring education into the age of the internet and widen the scope of what’s possible.
Social Platforms and “the Algorithm.” – Artificial Intelligence and Education
Many people find it hard to believe how much information the world has at its disposal now. YouTube gets more than 80 years’ worth of videos every day. Hundreds of videos are added to TikTok every single second. More than 50 billion websites are indexed by Google, making it easy for people to find them. This is a lot of information, so how do we find anything?
The answer is yes. We can use something that looks like a lookup table to look up specific content by link or ID. In that case, how would we go about finding the right content for a person? We choose the best things from a vast pool of many choices.
When we say “relevant,” we usually mean a trait that can’t be measured. Many things make people decide to click on a search result or not. What makes a picture more likely to be shared? Content is recommended in this way: Many videos are shown on YouTube because of a system that recommends them. There are a few videos the site wants you to watch after each one. The site has to answer this question:
Given everything we know about this user, which of our 10+ billion videos should we show to keep the user on the site for the most extended time right now?
Enjoy this Herculean task by taking a step back. I don’t know how to start. YouTube and their friends are very good at this, even though it’s hard. Some people might say “Shockingly good” is not enough. Many people see the videos on YouTube every month. They also watch more than 1 BILLION HOURS of content every day. The term “YouTube rabbit hole” has been used to describe how well YouTube can serve you videos that make you want to watch them for hours on end. Once you’ve watched one video, they can always get you to watch another one with just a few ideas. Watching videos of extrusion machinery takes up to three hours when I sit down to pass the time.
How do they do this? What’s their “secret sauce”? As you might have guessed, it’s made by computers. Most of your online history is kept track of by Google, which owns YouTube. Google tracks hundreds of data points from almost every part of your online history. If you have an Android phone, you should read this. It most likely knows where you’ve been since you first set up your account. Use it? Every search you’ve done. Chrome? Your history when you’ve been on the web. Of course, they also know about every video you’ve ever watched, what content you’ve been most interested in, who you’ve subscribed to, and what your most recent clicks have been. All to get to know “you” so that we can figure out what you’ll do. Then, “you” can figure out what you’ll watch next. If many people with similar watch histories saw this video of a person building an underground swimming pool with a few sticks, you’re likely to too. Let me know in a comment if you think that man could have done that with just a spade.
If you don’t want to talk about privacy right now, you can. We’ll talk about that in a little while. When you use a modern social media site, they have multi-billion dollar systems that follow you around and learn everything about you. They then use this information to build models of your behavior. For what? Ads can be sold. Is this the best way to use this technology, or is there another way?
Not at all. When it comes to AI-driven content delivery, this is just the first thing that has come out. Before, I said that YouTube had solved a problem with their algorithm. There might be a way for us to change our previous question and make this system better.
Given everything we know about this student, what information from the total sum of human knowledge should we teach them to provide them with the best long-term educational outcome?
Such a system has been called an “Interactive Educational System,” and we can build one right now, too.
Riiid Educational Systems – Future of AI In Education
One company focuses on using AI in education and making these Interactive Educational Systems. They have had a lot of success. In 2016, they made an app called Santa for Korean students studying for the TOEIC Exam, which is a big, standardized English test that is important like the SAT in the United States. They have an utterly AI-driven study app that picks each question individually for each student to ensure they get the most out of it. What does it do with its library of tens of thousands of questions?
What question or lecture can I give this student right now to cause the most significant long-term increase in their TOEIC exam score?
How well did they do? Almost immediately, they became one of the most popular apps for learning in Korea. They say they have millions of users and have recorded hundreds of millions of interactions with them. Is it helpful or just hype? A total standard deviation of student scores can be raised in just 20 hours and for less than $30, which is more than the cost of the course itself! This is ten times cheaper than hiring a private tutor, but it still gives better results.
In this case, there is no outside data. People: They are not from Google or Facebook. They don’t have the gigabytes of data per person these sites have.
When you read through their whitepapers, here are some things you might not have known about them.
- They don’t just pick the best question at every moment; they also use a dropout prediction algorithm to predict when students will leave their session and aim to achieve the best overall result across users’ lifetime usage.
- Using dozens of data points (correct answers, lesson history, the average time to answer, and how frequently you changed your answer, to name a few), they can predict with MORE THAN 82 percent ACCURACY whether a given student will get a given question correct. This is terrifyingly good.
- Questions are not organized into topics or categories; instead, they are presented one after the other in style similar to TikTok, with the algorithm determining which question you will learn the most from at any given time. After each answer, the user’s predicted score and the algorithm’s understanding of the user are updated.
- Students are given an “estimated TOEIC score” as they practice to indicate where the app believes they will score on test day. This is 95 percent accurate to within a few percentage points.
Riiid plans to keep working on more products. This has been their most recent project, but they are one of the fastest-growing and most well-funded companies in this field. I think AI-driven study apps like this will become more common in the next few years and that they will change the way people learn for good.
Education is a technology that is very important for society. How do we pass on our essential knowledge, skills, traditions, and ideas from one generation to the next one? Children grow up in a world that changes all the time. How can we help them adapt to this?
Modern education systems are a lot better than nothing, but as anyone who has ever been to school knows, they have many flaws. If you want to be a doctor in the US, you should expect to be 32 when you finish school. Furthermore, developed countries are always having problems because there aren’t enough teachers and the systems aren’t well-funded, which means less time for each student and worse results. Developing countries are even worse off because they often lose many of their best people and don’t have the right institutions to help them get better at things.
There are a lot of jobs that are going to be replaced by robots, and the roles that will take their place are more technical, specialized, and require more education than ever before. Job retraining programs have had a terrible history in the United States. This shows us that we can’t keep using the same methods.
Platforms like Brilliant have already shown a massive market for teaching advanced concepts to students who want to learn more. To keep up with and even beat our current rate of innovation, we will need more and better things. Education needs to be cheaper, faster, and fairer.
A Sneak Peek at Our Future of Education
A system like Riiid’s Santa would look different if used for more than just Christmas. Then let’s say a platform like this was made by Google and was meant to help people learn about the world by having 1-on-1 talks with humans and AI. Here, we can use them as an example because they have a lot of money and are trying to teach without teachers in developing countries.
Here are some reasons why a new platform would be better than the ones already out there:
- Compared to some of the ancient systems still in use today, students will learn at breakneck speed. The internet has already accelerated the pace of many students’ learning. Still, if we can replicate Riiid’s 10x efficiency compared to a personal tutor more broadly, the very concept of education may be altered. Consider how students would fare if they had to learn two years’ worth of material every year. 11-year-olds would have the same training as freshmen in college, and college graduates would have the equivalent of a decade of experience. Unrealistic? You’ll have to tell me.
- Student-teacher ratios have a significant impact on both student learning and teacher sanity. Students in smaller classes learn more effectively (especially younger children). We can have more teacher attention for each student and more students in the system if we automate large parts of the education process. If AI handled those tasks, teachers would no longer have to waste time on ineffective and menial tasks like grading or lecturing. They are free to assist students in locating interesting resources, removing impediments to their understanding, and coaching them as lifelong learners. Students are no longer required to sit in lectures for arbitrary periods and then complete assignments that may waste their time (those among you who have spent hours doing algebra on a calculus assignment should be excited by this one).
- A platform like this could provide a place for skilled and passionate educators to monetize their skills and provide value to a larger audience than was previously possible. We could make education hugely profitable for quality teachers and grow an industry of entrepreneur-teachers (think Kurzgesagt or Crash Course) who are paid more than the starvation wage many countries opt for if a system that allows people to create content (similar to Skillshare) that is curated for each student was introduced.
- Struggling students can get the help they need without competing for a human instructor’s limited time with an AI system that meets them where they are. Those who can move faster are given more room to run and a map of where they can go. Furthermore, students are free to explore deep topics beyond the scope of primary education, free of existing social norms regarding the “order of things” in terms of educational achievement.
PBS Space Time is a good answer to people who think it’s impossible to learn about more advanced things. They make videos about cutting-edge theoretical astrophysics every week for millions of people, many of whom are high-school students. They don’t skimp on the small things. These videos are made with limited person-hours, but they can then teach a virtually unlimited number of students. This is how education is going to change.
The question is, can this system be used to teach everything? Not at all! However, most of becoming educated in learning more about things that are already well-known. This is where interactive educational systems shine, and this is why. AI can help us get new minds on the cutting edge faster than possible.
Misinformation and radicalization are two things we would be a little lazy not to pay attention to. With Santa, the questions are aimed at a specific group chosen by teachers. Our scope gets more prominent when we try to widen it.
It’s a well-known fact that Facebook and other platforms use algorithms to push users toward more radical, hateful, and often fanciful views of reality, but people don’t always know it. Study after study shows that people react the most to hate and fear. Algorithms that are designed to be more engaging take advantage of this. Facebook itself found this out.
Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen said just a few months ago: Facebook isn’t safe.
“Facebook has realized that changing the algorithm to make it safer will result in people spending less time on the site, clicking on fewer ads, and making less money.”
So not only do these multi-billion dollar companies have little control over the systems they build, but they also know that they make people unhappy and choose not to change their ways. They keep getting rid of teams that try to change the algorithm’s main metrics so that users instead of advertisers benefit from them. To build our Interactive Educational System, why should we trust people who have a history of doing things against the public?
These doubts make it hard to believe that anyone can be trusted to make such a powerful tool. People who use big-data systems with absolute power over their lives don’t have the best track record, but they still use them. If this turns into a crime map, what do we need to ensure it doesn’t?
To make sure we don’t do the same thing, we can use something like third-party audits and questions that aren’t biased to make sure we don’t fall into the same traps again. A Weapon of Math Destruction is what Cathy O’Neil calls the system. We mustn’t let the system become that. There must be genuine human involvement in the process and attention paid to correctness and diligence. When tech companies move quickly and break things, they don’t always think about how they can fix things. Working with real, credible teachers might be the most important thing.
When we think about education, we need to ensure we are going in the right direction.
Creating an Interactive System
I said at the start that the technology needed to build this is already available today, and I meant it. When you go on the internet, you can find many educational videos on YouTube. It is easier for them to become an Interactive Educational System because they let anyone upload (almost) anything and focus on how long people watch. It doesn’t matter that there isn’t a lot of fact-checking. This means that a lot of content has to be looked at critically. Many people aren’t well-known troublemakers and hooligans at the site, so it’s essential to be aware of what one eats. YouTube has been an excellent place for famous teachers like Sal Khan and Hank Green, even though some of the people there are rough. They have helped millions of people understand complicated subjects through their videos.
If you watch more videos on YouTube, the algorithm will show you more similar videos. This is because the algorithm is focused on “watch time above all.” This creates a feedback loop in the classroom! More quickly:
You can train the YouTube algorithm to automatically find high-quality educational content and provide you with an experience similar to the Interactive Educational Systems we envision.
It only takes about 10 minutes to set this up for yourself if you want to give it a try.
- Create a new Google account to clear some of the metrics associated with your account.
- Go to YouTube and look for and watch an educational video. Something exciting and factual.
- When YouTube offers suggestions in the sidebar and after the video, choose high-quality videos.
- Maintain the account’s algorithm’s focus on factual information. Stay away from clickbait. Demonstrate to the algorithm that you do not click on videos with low educational value.
- Your home page will gradually fill up with highly informative, well-crafted content.
As the pace of progress keeps going up, the need for education is growing at an exponential rate. This is what the upper class of medieval Europe didn’t understand: algebra. Many people now have two years of calculus under their belt before they start college. The first plane flew about 100 years ago, and now college students have to design and build small satellites in their capstone projects. For the most part, our education system hasn’t changed to keep up with the changes in our lives. The way we learn isn’t why we’re doing so well, but rather why we aren’t doing so well.
This is a sign that new ways of learning are coming, and they could change everything.