December 4, 2019

8 avenues of AI use that are worth exploring

This text was initially published by Vitrine technologie-éducation under a CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 licence, before Eductive was launched.

Reading time : 8 minutes & translated by Quinn Johnson

Press coverage of artificial intelligence highlights its exponential growth, which is generating both fascination and fear in many fields, including education. On the one hand, we are fascinated by the opportunities offered by this technology : artificial vision, which allows a machine to identify the content of an image and to proceed to classification by inferred colors, faces or objects; and voice recognition, which allows virtual assistants to transcribe natural language and to assume appropriate responses. On the other hand, one can quickly feel at a loss when it comes to giving examples of how to use it in a way that benefits humanity. We are constantly being told that AI will be omnipresent in the coming years and that the education sector must absolutely comprehend this technology  in order to prepare the adults of tomorrow. But what are the exploitable avenues of exploration? How can AI be used meaningfully? In order to answer these questions, I propose a short reflection on the use of AI in education, and subsequently, to discover 8 avenues of exploration for a real pedagogical application of this technology.

While insisting on the notion of the effectiveness of AI in teaching, we understand that the educational community expects a rational use of this emerging technology that will allow them to facilitate their practices. As millennials are submerged in everything that is digital, many teachers are wondering about the real added value of integrating AI into the classroom. However, there exist several examples of AI use  that compensate for the new challenges in teaching. For example, the increasing number of students and the lack of teachers are phenomena that are causing learner follow-up problems to emerge. And while the profile of students is transforming, and more differentiated teaching, more individualized paths, more resources and more support are needed; AI can provide support in the development of the learner’s skills. As a former french and social studies teacher, I can say that evaluation has always been a source of anxiety in the exercise of my duties. Divided between the stacks of papers and the lack of time, my desire to provide individualized feedback that allows students to improve has often been in vain. Although evaluation has passed from paper to digital format by means of the democratisation of questionnaire development applications (SurveyMonkey, LimeSurvey, etc), by means of peer evaluation (Teammates) and by means of other innovative pedagogical practices, there is still some work to do in order to systematize individual feedback.

Thanks to the emergence of chatbots, machine learning and natural language processing, we can allow educational institutions to concentrate their forces towards the very essence of the functions that motivate them. Here are 8 examples that could inspire you.

1. Adaptive learning

Source : Carnegie Learning

Adaptive learning is one of the most promising trends in the field of AI for education. This is a learning process that allows each student to be monitored individually, the course to be adjusted and the teacher to be informed of the origin of the learners’ comprehension difficulties. For example, Carnegie Learning‘s MATHiaU intelligent tutorial system uses cognitive science and AI technologies to provide personalized mathematical assistance and real-time feedback.

2. Automated evaluation

Automated assessment is an AI tool that simulates the behaviour of a teacher in scoring a written production. The program can diagnose the learner’s level of analysis in developing their responses, provide feedback and suggest a training program to improve competencies.

3. Virtual facilitators or assistants

In 2016, at the Georgian Institute of Technology, students interacted with Jill Watson, the professor’s new assistant. What they didn’t know was that Jill was in fact a virtual assistant. As a part of the course, the students were able to interact with via written and oral communication and were completely unaware of the nature of the project, which was to be able to use a virtual assistant to accompany university professors. Jill Watson, who provided learner support, was  a super powerful computer with an IBM-AI-Watson system that answered questions with surprising natural ease. Jill Watson is an innovative way of supporting teachers and learners.

4. Spaced repetition

« Repetitio est mater studiorum » – Repetition is the mother of study.

Source : leblogdeletudiant

Recalling a notion learned in the first semester during your final exam or reviewing a subject learned two years earlier are fairly time-consuming exercises for students. What if we had the possibility to equip learners in the preparation of exams by using AI? A Polish researcher, Peter Wozniak, had the idea to develop a tool based on a system of intervals.

Supermemo is an application that tracks what you learn and how often you learn it. Using artificial intelligence to keep track of notions studied, the application notifies the learners and proposes revisions at intervals according to the learner’s profile. It only takes a few revisions for  information to be stored in one’s long-term memory.

5. Campus chat

source : ITnews

Similar to IBM-Watson, the development of a campus chat at Deakin University in Victoria, Australia, provides an opportunity to answer all students’ questions about campus life. The virtual facilitator, named Genie, can manage nearly 12,000 conversations per day.

6. Personalized learning

Personalized learning refers to AI programs that offer a variety of educational content in which the learning pace and pedagogical approach are optimized to respond to the needs of each learner. The tool adapts to the preferences and interests of different learners and allows them to progress rapidly by exposing them to increasingly complex activities. In this way, those who learn more quickly and those who are a little slower can continue to study at their own rhythm.

7. Monitoring

Source : Talkview

When it comes to education, it is very difficult to overlook distance learning. However, the organization of evaluation for distance courses can often be difficult to manage. Proctoring is a program that ensures the authenticity of learners during exams and prevents cheating

 8. Text generators

Using geolocation data and data from previous research, AI can quickly provide  us with the address of the local bulk grocery store or even the path to the best bookstore in the city. The same technology can be applied for the study of grammar rules or for text composition. For example, data processing and predictive personalization allow for technology like smart email : the GPT-2 application, a text generator program, being one example. GPT-2 allows you to automatically create content based on online resources. Users can therefore generate texts and adjust content by integrating their writing style. Attention teachers! It will soon be very difficult to recognize your students’ written productions.

I hope you will find these ideas inspiring. Feel free to leave me comments or contact me at

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