The disruption of AI in education has the potential to help propel teachers and students to further grow and evolve. What will matter for educational systems five years from now is the ability to stay agile while still focusing on enabling and empowering learners globally.
While AI has started enhancing most aspects of education, it should not replace the vital role of human teachers in nurturing critical thinking, empathy and social skills. To manage this risk, a balanced approach is necessary, where AI is used as a supportive tool alongside human instruction, maintaining a healthy teacher-student relationship and preserving the human element in education.
Chad Bandy, managing director, higher education strategy for KPMG US, points out even before the recent explosion of interest in ChatGPT, sophisticated AI approaches have been gaining traction across higher education.
“This includes personalization of online educational experiences, the identification of students at risk of struggling to complete key academic milestones, and enabling cutting-edge research informed by massive data sets,” he says.
He adds ChatGPT and Google Translate advance education when they help learners find the right word, or experiment with different formulations to communicate their ideas in a new idiom.
“When students simply copy-and-paste translation assignments, the essence of learning is lost,” Bandy cautions. “Universities must engage with these new technologies critically – creating a role for them to accelerate the mission of education, rather than hoping things simply work out for the best.”
Various AI tools, including BYJU’S WIZ, can pinpoint a student’s strengths and weaknesses at a granular level by using machine learning algorithms to guide students toward the right solutions.
For example, WIZ’s three AI models – BADRI, MathGPT, and TeacherGPT – leverage billions of daily student interactions and transformer technology (like large language learning models such as ChatGPT) to provide tailored questions and learning videos for areas of improvement.
From the perspective of Divya Gokulnath co-founder of BYJU’S, the area where AI can and will make the biggest impact is personalized learning.
“By leveraging AI algorithms, EdTech companies can analyze vast amounts of student data, including the strengths, weaknesses, learning styles and preferences of their students,” she says.
This information can then be used to customize educational content and create personalized learning paths for each student, maximizing their academic progress.
“AI-powered virtual tutors and intelligent tutoring systems can provide real-time feedback and adapting instruction to their specific needs,” she adds. “We see immense value in AI as a learning tool and we are beginning to see the ways in which AI is making education more equal and accessible, democratizing access to key tools that can reach learners wherever they are.”
Gokulnath explains while generalized language learning models (LLMs), including ChatGPT, have revolutionized natural language processing in AI, they may not be optimal for addressing the specific needs of certain sectors, such as education.
“LLMs are trained on a broad spectrum of data, making them great at understanding and generating text, but they often lack the depth required for specific tasks like complex mathematical problem-solving,” she says.
BYJU’S hopes to address this problem with a model like MathGPT, which is trained solely on mathematical problem-solving using advanced machine learning algorithms through the company’s Austrian subsidiary GeoGebra).
“We have spent nearly $100 million in creating and sustaining WIZ, and ensuring it incorporates rigorous safeguards and comprehensive risk management protocols, thus minimizing the potential AI risks in education,” Gokulnath says.
She points to the recent launch of an innovation hub dubbed BYJU’S Lab, based out of the United Kingdom, US and India, with a vision to propel and shape the future of education.
The venture incubates new ideas, provides cutting-edge technologies, and delivers solutions across BYJU’S ecosystem of learning products, from which WIZ emerged.
“The education industry will only continue innovating with new learning formats, including the implementation of AI and other emerging technologies,” Gokulnath says. “With AI in education, we have the potential to create 1.5 billion unique learning paths for the 1.5 billion students worldwide.”
Bandy explains while the timing will vary, he’s already seeing AI transform approaches to research in fields such as astronomy and medicine.
“At the same time, there is much soul-searching about what role – if any – generative AI technologies play in scholarship and teaching,” he says.
He predicts there will likely be a two-track world for AI in higher education – institutions and individuals who push the boundaries, and those who prefer more traditional models.
“At their best, universities offer a place where students and faculty can take the best from both approaches,” he notes.