How Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Transformed E-Learning

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How Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Transformed E-Learning
How Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Transformed E-Learning Pixabay

For the baby boomer generation and Gen Xers, the goal was to go to a traditional university, receive an education, and then find employment with an established organization they could work with for the rest of their lives. Millennials and generation Z seem less set on traditional university training.

They definitely value higher education, but they are looking for alternative ways to receive said education. If they can get a degree without relying on a full time on-campus program, they will opt for that more times than not.

Distance Learning Is Not New

As the expense associated with higher education continues to rise, it seems like it attracts more students to distance learning. The COVID-19 pandemic that hit the world in early 2020 has also made distance learning more attractive for some.

However, distance learning isn’t new. There are many universities that have been offering online or remote learning since the late 1990s. What has changed is the technology behind distance learning.

High-speed Internet, mobile technology, VPN solutions and handheld devices that have the computing power that rivals larger machines have made it possible for more people to benefit from distance learning. 

Cybersecurity expert Will Ellis from Privacy Australia, a VPN security firm advises:

“E-learning is a great way of learning only if you consider your own online security first. I regularly advise Australian businesses and Aussies to always use a secure VPN solution, which is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to protect your privacy, and thus avoid having sensitive data stolen. All of the devices you’re using in your learning process must be adequately secured, so you avoid cyberattacks such as malware attacks or phishing scams which are pretty common nowadays.”

While hackers are constantly looking for their new victims, e-learning became one of their newest targets since most of the learning programs are now operating online for both students’ and teachers’ safety during the pandemic. There are now more programs that can be offered online, offering a wider range of options for students. Students can enroll in competitive master programs or bachelor programs from reputable universities, such as Columbia, Penn State, NYU, or Johns Hopkins. Since the programs are being offered virtually, students may save up to 50 percent onto their tuition.

How Is Artificial Intelligence Changing the Remote Learning Experience?

One technology that is currently impacting remote learning and that seems poised to have a greater impact on it is artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence has the potential to revolutionize the virtual learning experience in a way that was a thing of science fiction just a few decades ago.

Current teaching models revolve around the teacher being the source of all wisdom and the student being the eager vessel looking to be filled. Artificial intelligence is allowing the educational system to reimagine this dynamic.

One way that AI is making this possible is by allowing automated assignments, grading, and remote monitoring services. These technologies make it possible for teachers to step back from repetitive tasks and focus their energy on engaging in activities that add value for their students.

A second positive that AI brings to the table is the ability to better understand the learning styles of different students. It has been long understood that people learn better using distinct styles of learning. Some people are auditory learners. They do better listening to information presented by a teacher or another authority.

Some people do better visually. It doesn’t mean that they need to read to learn, but they need to see how something works to put it together. There are also people who do better if they can just read the text. Give them a book, let them read, and in their mind they can put the pieces together.

Learning management systems that use AI are allowing universities to identify which students fit into what category. Then, remote courses can be created that target the preferred learning style of the student as opposed to being confined to the teaching style of the instructor.

Besides identifying the learning preferences of students, AI can use that information to tailor classes to meet student needs. Long lectures and reading assignments can be broken down into various components that are in line with the student’s learning style.

A good example of this is BrainStation’s online data science program. This is an immersive online learning experience tailored to students, helping them get a job as a data scientist. AI plays a role in making this online learning experience successful. 

Universal Translator- From Science-Fiction to Reality

When you see science-fiction programs, everyone speaks the same language and can understand each other. There is always some gizmo that makes this possible. AI is taking that fictional technology and making it possible.

This is beneficial for international students. If there is a language barrier, it could inhibit their ability to progress. They may first need to learn the target language before they can study at a university. AI is offering deep learning systems that give the ability to translate a lecture in English into the student’s native tongue.

They use similar technology for speech to text recognition. While being able to take a person’s voice and accurately write out what they say may seem amazing, AI is taking things to the next level. It is making it possible to take a lecture, transcribe it, and break it down to just relative bullet points.

Much of learning is contextual. This is why there has been some debate about the relevance of IQ tests. Ambiguity, bias, or complexity related to culture by the instructor could prevent a student from understanding the information that is being presented. Artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms are being used in remote learning to help identify these factors, flag them, and then compensate for bias by the instructor.

There is a universe of possibilities available. Many children who grew up watching television in the late 80s and early 90s remember cartoons that predicted a future where teachers were virtual and learning was done over the television or through a computer screen. At the time, it seemed fanciful. Now, we have the privilege to see this technology in action and watch it mature.

Massive Open Online Courses

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are improving the quality of education people are receiving from massive open online courses. In years past, massive open online courses did not have a high retention rate. Some studies found that up to 96 percent of people would drop out over five years. However, artificial intelligence and machine learning are helping these platforms encourage students to continue their education.

One way is just by monitoring how frequently students watch their videos and submit assignments. Students are given reminders to complete the tasks and encouragement to continue with their education.

AI is being used to remote learners to identify the courses that would be right for them. It is helping them identify their interests and select courses that are complex enough to be challenging but not so hard they are going to quit.

Artificial intelligence in education is democratizing education. It’s allowing students to learn at their own pace. And it can provide students with the support they need when the algorithm recognizes they are thinking about dropping out.

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