Page 21 - THE Journal, May/June 2018
P. 21

Artificial intelligence could have a profound impact on learning, but it also raises key questions.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI) and machine learning are no longer fantastical prospects seen only in science fiction. Products like Amazon Echo and Siri have brought AI into many homes, and experts say it’s only a matter of time before the technology has a profound impact in education, as well.
Already, there are interactive tutors and adaptive learning programs that use AI to personalize instruction for students, and AI is also helping to simplify some administrative tasks. But Kelly Calhoun Williams, an education analyst for the technology research firm Gartner Inc., cautions there is a clear gap between the promise of AI and the reality of AI.
“That’s to be expected, given the complexity of the technology,” she said.
Implications for Learning
Artificial intelligence is a broad term used to describe any technology that emulates human intelligence, such as by understanding complex information, drawing its own conclusions and engaging in natural dialog with people.
Machine learning is a subset of AI in which the software can learn or adapt like a human can. Essentially, it analyzes huge amounts of data and looks for patterns in order to classify information or make predictions. The addition of a feedback loop allows the software to “learn” as it goes by modifying its approach based on whether the conclusions it draws are right or wrong.
AI can process far more information than a human can, and it can perform tasks much faster and with more accuracy. Some curriculum software developers have begun harnessing these capabilities to create programs that can adapt to each student’s unique circumstances.
For instance, a Seattle-based nonprofit company called Enlearn has developed an adaptive learning platform that uses machine learning technology to create highly individualized learning paths that can accelerate learning for every student.
Enlearn says its software breaks down the learning process to a whole new level of granular- ity, analyzing dozens of discrete yet interwoven thought processes that underlie each skill
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