How artificial intelligence is changing education in Asia and around the world

Right now, a chatbot with artificial intelligence (AI) can act as a virtual friend and can even speak in multiple languages. Doctors are also starting to use AI in various ways to diagnose illnesses and to make surgical operations safer. Some farmers rely on AI to grow more crops, and scientists think it can help create new ways of protecting the planet. In many ways, the potential of AI seems almost endless.

The education sector, too, is exploring how it can use AI – by enhancing classroom learning and creating more seamless, personalized experiences. Here are some examples of how education institutions are leveraging AI to empower students:

Helping make education more accessible and tailored for every student

AI is helping to make education more inclusive. The Rochester Institute of Technology in the U.S. state of New York has a diverse mix of students, including those who are deaf and hard of hearing. So, it uses Microsoft Translator to create live subtitles on screen during lectures and presentations.

For the 700 deaf and hearing-impaired students in the school who take courses alongside students who are hearing, the punctuated subtitles on the screen allow them to follow lessons more closely, instead of having to focus their attention on the American Sign Language (ASL) translator present in the room.

Students who are less fluent in the language of instruction, including foreign exchange students,  also benefit from such tools. By downloading Microsoft Translator onto their devices, they can experience live translation of lessons into their own native language. For visual learners, who struggle to listen attentively for extended periods of time, the subtitles may be easier to absorb and digest.

Another added benefit is that Microsoft Translator can automatically generate transcripts, allowing students to focus on listening during lessons and review the transcript after lessons.

There are also AI-based apps that help students learn better, by personalizing education. For example, the Learn Chinese application targets one of the biggest challenges in picking up a new language – the lack of opportunities to practice – by providing an always available conversation partner for learners.

Informing education institutions and educators on how to empower students

AI is also being used by education institutions to harness insights from the data they collect and own – and find better ways of helping students achieve more.  Catholic Education of Western Australia (CEWA) delivers AI-informed personalized education to 78,000 students across 163 schools in the state using the cloud. It collects data from a variety of sources and leverages Power BI and its predictive analytics capabilities to identify patterns. These insights help educators identify at-risk students and provide intervention as early as possible.

In the U.S., Tacoma Public Schools in the state of Washington have used machine learning (ML) and AI to develop a data model that predicts student success with 90 percent accuracy. This has not only enabled early assessment and intervention to lower student dropout rates, it has also enabled educators to help students achieve greater academic excellence. Tacoma Public Schools has  seen graduation rates rise from 55 percent to over 80 percent.

Ensuring a better overall student experience that is conducive to learning

Due to limited resources and manpower, student queries such as those related to enrolment, student loans or scheduling often take time to answer and solve. This not only causes students unnecessary worry, but it also takes their focus and attention away from learning. Education institutions hope to overcome this challenge, without additional strain on resources, with AI-powered chatbots.

Taibah University, in Saudi Arabia, is currently exploring the development of a new chatbot problem-solver that can respond to a wide variety of student questions intelligently. The Republic Polytechnic, in Singapore, is also looking to develop a chatbot that can function as a teaching assistant to answer some of the more straightforward questions students might have. This will free up time for educators, allowing them to spend more time answering more complex student questions.

Exploring the right possibilities for your education institution

The possibilities that AI promises bring are exciting. But institutions must remember to keep the student at the center of all change. It is important to first identify a clear vision and objectives before considering the technology tools and solutions, AI or otherwise, best suited to overcome existing challenges.

Committed to empowering students to achieve their best, Microsoft works closely with schools throughout the entire transformation journey – from research and planning to creating tailored solutions, and implementing the technology. Find out how we have helped education institutions around the world achieve transformation with our ecosystem of tools, services, and partners.

For more information, please visit Microsoft Education or the Microsoft Educator Community Portal.

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