AI and Education

February 2019 - Petros Mina

Very broadly defined, AI is the ability to program a machine to understand and process information in a “human-like” manner. But how do humans understand and process information in the first place? The short answer is via experience, a term which also includes experiences gained through education. But can a machine be programmed to help humans better understand the world around them?

Currently, AI technologies can be grouped into one or more of the following AI categories – Natural Language Processing (NLP) which is further divided into Natural Language Understanding(NLU)and Natural Language Generation (NLG), Classification,Clustering, Recommender systems and Reinforcement methods. These categories can be applied in different ways to enhance the human learning experience.  

For example, NLU methods can be used to obtain context from educational corpus (which is in abundant digital form nowadays) and NLG methods can be used to teach back any understanding gained from the NLU step. Classification and clustering methods can be used to identify an educational category for any given document, such that when processing huge amounts of information an electronic library can be assembled. Finally, recommender systems can use information from one user and make predictions about what another would like, much like a teacher identifying ways of giving you content that would be most suited to you. 

Of course, using AI to improve the learning process is easier said than done. While there are successful examples, most of these are limited to small and specific tasks. One AI tool may be developed that has remarkable success in a specific environment but struggles to perform when any of the set variables change.  

To create a well-rounded education solution, you need to not only refine the tools to perform the above mentioned tasks in an education setting but also architect the solution. This means essentially interfacing the methods in such a way that a seamless educational experience can be provided. Importantly, this is what we aim to do at Fountech, so watch this space!