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AI is taking Edtech to the Next Level... How?




Welcome to the evolving landscape of education, where technology, artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics, natural language processing (NLP), and robotics are redefining the learning experience. In this exploration, we uncover how these innovations are essential for scaling EdTech, from personalized AI-driven learning to the transformative power of NLP and interactive robots in classrooms. Join us as we unveil the future of education and how these advancements are revolutionizing teaching and learning.


Written by: Tanay Sonawane, Audrey Hutabarat, Jonathan Ouyang, and Filip Vrábel

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HOW AI CAN HELP EDTECH SCALE UP


Edtech is expanding. There’s no doubt about that. But how can firms optimise the expanding reach and impact of educational technologies to accommodate this growing base of users across different  geographical regions without compromising quality? The use of AI is a key part of that story.

 

Some of the current capacity constraints that Edtech may face going forward include the administrative tasks, efficiency issues and customisability that comes with increases in demand (and thus learning needs). In this sense, we can see several instances where the implementation would allow the Edtech sector to undertake even greater expansion speeds. Let us explore several areas where AI could help in this process.

 

Firstly, as we now know, AI has an intimidating ability to conduct human-like conversations that can prove to be incredibly useful as instructional assistants in explaining difficult concepts to students. AI-driven platforms have the capability to analyse individual learning patterns to tailor learning pathways, thereby making education more accessible to a wider pool of students.

 

Secondly, not only does AI help students, teachers also stand to gain from employment of AI. How many times have you tried to book an office hour with a teacher, only to find out he’s fully booked until next month? Or do you remember back in high school, when you just couldn’t get more feedback from teachers because of time constraints? With AI, it’s possible to tackle the mountain of administrative tasks that teachers often have to undertake, including drafting lesson plans, creating differentiated materials, designing worksheets, etc. This will allow educators to invest more time with their peers and students, improving their overall practice.

 

Lastly, AI algorithms can provide easily accessible data-driven insights into student performance, learning outcomes and more. These insights will no doubt enable the continuous improvement of educational content to ensure that Edtech platforms can scale without compromising on educational quality.

 




With this, we can see that AI isn’t just a tool that will enhance the education experience, but it is a catalyst for the scalable growth of the Edtech industry. One of the start-ups in this area that’s making headway is Fetchy. This is a generative AI start-up platform that helps teachers to optimise tasks such as creating engaging lesson plans, newsletters, professional emails, generating comprehensive questions, and so on. This is a tool that works based on generated language according to the requirements of teachers to help them produce higher quality modern educational programs. With more firms such as this, we should see AI acting as a key player in the scalability of Edtech.





DATA... EDTECH NEEDS IT


Now, with all that being said, one crucial question is how will AI keep up with the dynamically and ever-changing changing demands of students and teachers? The answer? Data. Indeed, the artificial intelligence revolution, particularly in education, is underpinned by sophisticated data analytics that fuels the AI systems to cater to the diverse needs of the student population.

 

Indeed, the capabilities of AI in education hinges on the collection and analysis of data. Every student, teacher and parents’ interactions with an AI algorithm provides key insights into student behaviours, learning patterns and subsequent outcomes. The collection of this data becomes the foundation of the training grounds for the AI algorithms. By collecting data and developing these insights and expanding AI capabilities to tailor educational content, students get a much more personalised and specialised learning journey.

 

Okay, with collecting data out the way, what about AI’s ability to transform data into educational insights? Well, this is done mainly through machine learning and natural language processing (NLP). We’ll talk about NLP in more detail in a moment. For now, let’s say we’re educators. AI tools will interpret complex data sets provided by us in order to offer deeper understandings of classroom dynamics, as well as individual student needs. By doing so, educators will be provided with assistance in curriculum development, identifying gaps in student understanding, predicting student engagement levels, and more. These AI-driven analytics will provide both educators and students with a toolkit to utilise all resources efficiently and enhance the overall educational experience.

 


One Edtech start-up based in South Korea that is making significant strides in the integration of AI is Riiid. Founded in 2014, Riiid focuses on developing adaptive assessment platforms that utilise data analytics to personalise learning experiences. Beyond that, Riiid also provides real-time feedback mechanisms that contribute towards establishing a more engaging, effective and accessible learning environment.

 

Looking forward, there should be no doubt that the integration of data and AI Edtech is set to bring revolutions in how education is conceptualised, delivered and experienced. With such a neck-breaking speed of improvements in AI, we should prepare to witness unprecedented changes in the overall education industry.  




NLP IN EDTECH


While the range of NLP use cases is considerable, EdTech maybe just the perfect area for its deployment. On one view, NLP should not be treated as a mere gloss on EdTech but as a new foundation. In fact, NLP is the fastest-growing AI technology and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 36.6% between 2022 and 2030, while “29% of education-related organizations have already embedded NLP into their business operations as of 2023, and 45% plan to do so in the near future”. The motive behind such widespread adoption and explanation behind such astronomical growth are simple. NLP provides for automated responses, efficient content analysis and above all, personalised learning. NLP can tailor learning modules to meticulously prepare lessons fitting each students’ needs. 


Just imagine being able to chat with AI, practicing different languages, improving your grammar, and getting instant feedback on your pronunciation – it is as if students had their own virtual language buddies. And it is not just about translations; platforms like Duolingo and Babbel use NLP to tailor learning experiences, suggesting new words and helping learners perfect their accents. Plus, with tools like automated essay scoring and pronunciation analysis, students can get feedback on their work in no time, making the learning process smoother and more effective. On the publishing side, NLP helps us find the right educational resources faster, grouping content in meaningful ways and even predicting what you might be looking for before you finish typing. From a publishing standpoint, NLP facilitates semantic search functionalities, dynamic content clustering, and predictive search features, thereby streamlining content discovery processes. This amalgamation of technological advancements strives to enhance educational accessibility and efficacy, ushering in a new era of tailored and efficient learning experiences.





An exemplary startup in the NLP EdTech sector is Knowre, originating from South Korea and boasting a substantial funding of $15.1M. Knowre specialises in AI-driven tutoring and scaffolded support, utilising groundbreaking technology to pinpoint individual student learning gaps and provide tailored curricula and interactive assistance. This innovative approach equips teachers with actionable insights and comprehensive data to effectively support struggling learners. Since its inception, Knowre has expanded its reach globally, forging partnerships with schools, private education entities, and corporations. Notably, the startup has garnered prestigious accolades, including the grand prize at Global K-Startup in 2021, sponsored by prominent organizations such as Google and the Korean Internet and Security Agency, along with securing first place in the GapApp Challenge, endorsed by the New York City Department of Education.



ROBOTICS IN EDTECH


Robotics in education is emerging as a vital support system for teachers amidst concerns over attrition in the profession, with 55% of National Education Association members considering early departure. In this field, robots equipped with human-like facial features and emotion-perceiving technology are assuming diverse roles such as teaching assistants, personal tutors, and peer learners, not only in STEM but also in humanities disciplines like language learning. While they complement rather than replace human educators, robotics in education brings benefits like fostering social skills through emotional interaction, providing personalised learning experiences, and alleviating teachers' workload pressures. Specifically, robots engage younger children effectively, facilitate one-on-one interactions for personalized learning, and excel in guiding structured lessons, particularly in subjects like math, science, and language vocabulary. Despite concerns about job displacement, the prevailing trend sees robots supplementing teachers by handling routine tasks, enhancing classroom engagement, and providing detailed attention to students with disabilities or learning challenges (ibid). Collaboration between schools and educators is key to maximising the potential of robotics in education, ensuring a balanced integration that optimizes the learning experience for all involved parties.


As an exemplar in the robotics EdTech arena, Wonder Workshop offers a captivating classroom experience through its STEM learning robots, Dash and Cue. Designed to engage young learners, Dash enchants children with its singing, dancing, and voice-responsive capabilities. Meanwhile, Cue, tailored for older students, provides more intricate interactions. Together, these robots enable teachers to deliver immersive lessons in robotics, coding, engineering, and other STEM subjects, enhancing student engagement and learning outcomes.



“Dash” - Image sourced from https://www.makewonder.com/en/dash/ 





AI seems to be changing education completely. As children we would have been envious of people's ability to use ChatGPT for their homework solutions, and the amount of constantly improving educational solutions available to students now. AI can really play a role in helping us become an even smarter species, and take us to new heights!

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