Paul Grist, Head of Education, International, Amazon Web Services (AWS)

This week (14-18 Sept) is Artificial Intelligence (#AI) and Machine Learning (#ML) Week @AWS_Edu, Head of Education, Paul Grist explains how Machine Learning can help teachers and improve student outcomes:

The COVID-19 crisis has forced millions of teachers around the world to rapidly learn how to use technology to effectively support student learning and assessment, stay connected with their students, experiment with teaching models, and reduce the workload so they can focus on teaching.

There are many promising solutions that are helping teachers become more effective, including new technologies such as machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) and optimised workflows. For example, Revisely is an education company that helps teachers give better feedback on students’ writing assignments, such as essays and papers. It saves teachers time by offering built-in comment sets and doing a plagiarism check on student work, among other features. In addition, teachers can track the performance of students on all assignments throughout their learning journey.

Another useful aspect of Revisely is that its platform allows teachers to outsource correction work to specialised professionals, including retired teachers and teachers in training. In many countries with shortages in the number of teachers, this can help schools and universities fill the gaps.

This platform is being implemented by an international team in Spain and the Netherlands and counts customers such as Iddink/Sanoma and the University of Utrecht. The platform is used by over 200,000 users and is scaling across Europe.

Technology is changing the way people learn

Proctor Exam is another tool that enables learners to take exams no matter where they are around the world. The solution simulates an in-person proctoring environment. While initially used mostly for distance learning, it is now being widely adopted in traditional and hybrid learning scenarios in Germany, the Netherlands, France, and Canada. Proctor Exam verifies the identity of the students taking the exams and monitors them whilst taking the exam to guarantee identity.

Another example is United Arab Emirates-based global EdTech, Alef Education, who has developed an AI-powered platform that acts as a teaching assistant. The sophisticated AI-powered technology enables students to follow their own personalised learning pathways. As students use the platform, it gathers multiple data points in a safe and secure way to provide real-time feedback to teachers. The system alerts teachers to learners’ challenges so they can identify and help struggling students, as well as tailor support for more advanced students.

Technology is changing the way people learn and can help reduce the workload for teachers. Alef’s digital learning platform saves teachers’ preparation time by building lessons and appropriate media into its system for core subjects like English, Maths, and Science. While we’re likely to see more solutions developed in this area in the coming years, existing AI and ML-powered platforms already assist teachers in the classroom today, helping them to better understand how different students learn and enabling them to tailor their teaching programmes.

Technology will never replace the teacher

Teachers are indispensable to the education process, guiding and facilitating student learning, but the future of education will see more collaboration between teachers and technology for the benefit of the student. Technology is increasingly an assistant to help teachers find and focus on learning and assessment through better collaboration and innovation.

For example, CareerLauncher is training teachers in Delhi, India, on effective virtual teaching techniques and technologies using CareerLauncher’s portal. The portal blends learning, fun, parenting, and mentoring to provide offline learning resources with practice tests, educational games, and career guidance.

When combined with interpersonal relationships, insightful education programmes, and thoughtful teachers, technology can be an incredible asset in helping to develop a skillful and well-rounded individual, and contribute to the growth of society. This includes preparing students for the jobs of the future, which will require good social skills, critical thinking and self-awareness.

But the success of this - and the future of education - depends on the partnership between teachers and technology, and the ability to bring innovative technology solutions seamlessly into the classroom.

Paul Grist, Head of Education, International, Amazon Web Services (AWS)

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