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Using AI in eLearning: 2 Examples

Am I a movie buff? Absolutely!

So, here’s the thing, I am a huge follower of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and always try to keep myself updated about every single character development, addition and all the other nitty gritty. However, it is a character known by the name Jarvis, that has been constantly intrigued me the most (no offence Captain America and Iron Man). Jarvis who? Well, Jarvis is the one-man army behind all the Iron suits, the Artificial Intelligence based assistant that is capable of doing almost everything (including building and launching Iron Man suits, controlling the whole building and appliances, finding the necessary information from across the web and secured servers too at just a voice command amongst other things).

But what is Artificial Intelligence really? By definition, “Artificial intelligence (AI), is the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings.” So, have we all experienced AI, yes in some way or the other. Remember, the Chess games where our opponent used to be the computer, or the more recent Siri, Cortana etc. all are just application of AI in real world. While the real-world applications of AI have been utilized by many organizations its use in the eLearning world is still at a nascent stage. As discussed in a recent post- AI in eLearning: What Does It Offer?, AI has much to offer to eLearning, however we have just scratched the surface. The next big question where has it been used as a part of the L&D to provide or assist in training? Here are two examples or implementations rather to begin with.

Instantaneous Learning with AI

Recently I happened to read about how Woodside Energy, an Australian independent oil and gas company, was utilizing the potential of IBM Watson to collate and make 30 years of experience available easily. The Watson APIs being used include:

  • Natural Language Classifier
  • Conversation
  • Retrieve and Rank.

How does this work? With IBM cloud storing over 38,000 Woodside documents, it consists of almost 30 years of practical engineering experience. Watson then collates all information available, and whenever users pose any question, it retrieves the relevant answers. According to IBM, “Watson helped reduce the time spent searching for expert knowledge by 75%.” That would save a lot of time wouldn’t it?

AI Assistants

Those who have already used Cortana, Siri and Alexa, know this for a fact that conversational interfaces are really helpful. In the summer of 2017 Georgia State University in collaboration with AdmitHub, launched a virtual “campus coach” that handles student queries related to course enrollment by drawing inputs from the collective knowledge and unique spirit of a school’s community.

In addition to this, organizations are also looking keenly at the potential of using virtual facilitators and learning environments. In fact, the US Army even plans to use virtual humans powered by Artificial Intelligence. Learning delivered using the Duolingo app’s chatbots too is an application of AI for voice and text recognition.

One look at the prototypes developed by USC institute for Creative Technologies, you get to know that virtual assistants do enable the users to have meaningful, personal, interactions with virtual humans.

In the paper titled- AI Grand Challenges for Education, Beverly Park Woolf, H. Chad Lane, Vinay K. Chaudhri and Janet L. Kolodner discussed the five key ways in which AI could be a part of education:

  • Mentors for every learner
  • Learning 21st century skills
  • Interaction data for learning
  • Universal access to global classrooms
  • Life-long and life-wide learning

However, the use in the above formats is limited to test projects and small-scale impacts as of now. As mentioned in the paper, “Changes in education can deliver new ways of organizing learning delivery that go beyond teacher-centric models and include flexible and adaptive learner-centered, learner-controlled models of distributed lifelong learning.”

Personalized learning, just-in-time support, an all-encompassing learning AI could bring in all those and more. The key however, lies in experimenting and finding the best ways of utilization of a technology that could do wonders. And maybe in a few years just like Jarvis controlling an entire home, AI could gradually take charge of entire learning strategies too.

So, what are your thoughts on using AI in eLearning?

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