Artificial Intelligence (AI), while being one of the latest eLearning trends, isn’t necessarily an entirely new concept. As it’s crept its way into numerous industries, and for the most part has been positively disrupting them from the inside out.
These advanced computer algorithms are slowly making their way into online education, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. While it’s not mainstream just yet, it is becoming more common and widely accepted.
For example, Google now applies neural matching tech to about 30% of all searches worldwide, voice search using Siri or Alexa are now expected and standard on all smartphones and devices, and even social media relies on artificial intelligence to deliver curated content to users.
The AI’s that are available today are still a long way from where they potentially will be in the coming years, and the growth will not stop. Though most of the uses are through simple algorithms in our search engine, and in general tech, as previously mentioned, they have found their way into online education, and with machine learning, they will continue to do so.
What is AI?
Artificial Intelligence has been around for a while now, but some people are still unable to clearly define what it is or explain what it does.
Artificial Intelligence is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems. Artificial intelligence can take many forms, including techniques such as machine learning and natural language processing – both technologies which have become more prevalent in educational settings over recent years due to their ability to identify patterns and analyse data.
6 different ways that AI is being used in eLearning
The team at Archy Learning has put together 6 different ways that artificial intelligence is being used within the eLearning space in 2021.
- Accessibility for learners
- Virtual Assistants (VA’s)
- Personalisation in learning
- Grading and Exams/Assessments
- Detection for Cheating
1) Accessibility for learners
One of the most positive effects the eLearning industry has had on the education and learning experience of students is how it has made distance learning more accessible to just about anyone, anywhere, anytime. No longer is it limited to an in-person classroom or corporate training event. Anyone with internet access anywhere in the world can log on to their computer or mobile devices, and begin mobile learning on nearly any subject instantly.
Continuous learning is a term that refers to the process of learning over a period of time. Continuous learners are people who have a never-ending desire for knowledge, and their educational lifestyle is constantly changing due to the continuous influx of information they are exposed to.
Many organisations now offer programs for continuous learners, which can include training sessions or workshops on specific topics, as well as a training module, webinars, podcasts, or digital books. There are also several online courses or massive open online courses (MOOCs) available at many universities that allow an individual to learn about a topic without having to give up their job or family commitments.
This eLearning market opens up a whole new world of possibilities for content creation from teachers and access to eLearning resources for pupils.
The need to be continuously educated has only increased in recent years due to technology changes and automation. For example, it’s estimated that 10 million US jobs will be lost to automation over the next five years. This form of ongoing learning is more important than ever for professionals, and AI can help facilitate that in a way that traditional training simply cannot.
By providing a more personalized learning path, based on a learner’s strengths or industry-specific information that they may need access to at any given moment in time, users are more likely to retain information within a mobile learning context.
The use of chatbots allows a student to ask questions or seek clarification using natural language – without the need for a human trainer at all times. This has significant benefits in terms of cost-efficiency, as well as giving companies access to global markets that often cannot afford to employ a full-time trainer.
There are a few ways that chatbots can be implemented into eLearning programs. They can be used to provide learners with instant answers to common questions or just a quick message from the company group chat about a specific topic of interest to a learner. They can also provide more of a “real” experience by holding a live conversation on the same site that the eLearning software is running.
In addition, chatbots can also be used as an assessment tool. AI is able to detect if a student’s written answers are incorrect very quickly – allowing trainers and mentors the opportunity to provide feedback before the learner goes on their way with this new knowledge or skill set. This saves a lot of time and ensures that a student always has the resources they need at their fingertips.
3) Virtual Assistants (VA’s)
Artificial Intelligence is also used to help learners interact with a virtual assistant, mentor, or trainer. These are similar to chatbots, but there is still a bit of differentiation – a virtual assistant can help aid educators and learners by helping answer questions that usually would go to a professor.
They can be used to help with scheduling, and even provide explanations on how course materials work within a certain subject.
This is more prevalent in the corporate sector than it has been for academia or education – but as upcoming trends advance further into machine learning and natural language processing, we will see its use shift from business-orientated purposes to educational ones too.
These digital technologies are becoming so advanced that VA’s are now able to grade tests automatically! This saves time, resources, and money for both educators/trainers, students, and businesses alike.
They can help a student to navigate through the course material and be an encouraging guide that helps them when they are stuck. There are also virtual tutors now available as well, but they are mostly still in beta stages. Watch this space throughout the year to see how they develop though.
4) Personalisation in Learning
One of the coolest things about AI’s is that they actually grow more efficient with machine learning, and as they gather data, they learn how to respond based on how they are being interacted with by users.
In the world of eLearning, artificial intelligence is being used to create courses that are personalised for users, based on their learning styles and preferences. The term for this is adaptive learning, and it’s achieved by using machine learning algorithms, these courses can constantly change depending on how a student responds to the material – offering more help where it’s needed while leaving out anything that wouldn’t be considered “relevant content”.
Adaptive learning, also known as adaptive teaching, is an educational method that uses computer algorithms as well as artificial intelligence to orchestrate the interaction with the learner and deliver customised resources and learning activities to address the unique needs of each learner.
In professional learning contexts or corporate training, individuals may “test out” some training to ensure they engage with novel instruction. The learning management system then adapts the presentation of eLearning content according to the learning needs of the student, as indicated by their responses to questions, tasks, and experiences.
Adaptive learning systems endeavor to transform the learner from being a passive receptor of information to a collaborator in the educational process. Adaptive learning systems’ primary application is in education, but another popular application is business training within the corporate world.
5) Grading and Exams/Assessments
One of the biggest and most time-consuming tasks of a professor or teacher is the number of times it takes to read and assess exams and assessments. Teachers must assess not only the content but the quality too, to ensure the student has a thorough understanding.
AI’s have come into this with full force, however, and have become quite efficient in grading long, more complex exams. Google’s neural matching has now become a prime example of machines being able to understand intent and answers behind written assessments within exams. This will only get more refined in the coming years.
6) Detection for Cheating
There are many different plagiarism detection tools and software’s out there that don’t actually require artificial intelligence, but there are other forms of cheating that actually do. An example of this is when AI’s can use a sample of a student’s writing to detect similarities with other submitted assignments, and can then extrapolate from that dataset to determine whether an assignment was completed by that particular student or by someone else.
What are the benefits of using AI for eLearning
Artificial intelligence has many benefits for eLearning. Not only can it help users to better understand content quicker, but it also provides tools like a virtual assistant to help guide them through the process. It is great for situations where a professor can’t be present, in order to ensure that each student is being guided with care and compassion, in a way that they would in real-life.
This is something that I notice with AI programs is that they are consistent with grading exams or quizzes. Since they are not human, they do not have the ability to show bias when grading an exam, so I don’t have to worry about my grades being lowered because of who the teacher likes more.
Why isn’t everyone using AI yet?
The main reason why artificial intelligence hasn’t been widely adopted within the eLearning industry just yet is due to it still being a tool that defines quite a lot of the artificial intelligence conversation.
There have been a lot of studies done on what actually constitutes as being “AI” or not, and there are a lot of areas where AI has not yet made a large enough impact on learning management systems to be considered for adoption within eLearning platforms.
As more time goes by, however, we’re going to see AI-based programs become commonplace within online learning trends.
The future of AI and its use in eLearning 2022+
With the current trajectory that education is on, it’s quite apparent that artificial intelligence will play a key role in shaping the learning process of future students. There are, however, many ethical implications to consider when adopting AI systems, especially as deep learning and AI continues to advance, it may be difficult to think about giving a software system the power to make decisions for a student, but there are benefits to consider as well.
For instance, it may be difficult for professors to grade highly complex exams and remain attentive to students and their needs simultaneously. But if their workload is lightened, then they can spend more time engaging with students instead of grading papers. This may lead to more personalised learning outcomes that benefit students.
Additionally, AI can steer a student in the right direction with virtual trainers and other tools to help guide them through complex tasks and content.
AI tools will inevitably play a big role in content development within the eLearning industry, and how we formulate learning habits in the future, with software development already being geared towards personalised learning modules to engage learners, the era of self-education is upon us and only growing stronger.
AI technologies entering the eLearning sector are a big part of the future of education. If students can receive real-time feedback and more personalised support around their knowledge gaps within the course content, they are going to have better retention rates and be able to get on track with their learning objectives faster than ever before.
What I want you to take away from this is that artificial intelligence use in eLearning platforms will only continue to grow stronger in emerging technologies, as eLearning trends continue to focus on adaptive learning and user data.
In summary, AI is already being used in eLearning today as a means of providing learners with personalised learning experiences that are both effective and efficient.
AI is a very broad term, and there are many ways it can be used in eLearning, but in 2022, we will see even more advancements in this area, we’ve simply highlighted six of the most common applications in this article to give you some ideas on how you might use this technology for your own course creation.
If you’re interested in getting started with an online course but don’t know where to start, we have free resources that will help get your project off the ground from scratch. Reach out today if you want help turning your vision into a reality!
The team at Archy Learning is here to help get you started.