Artificial Intelligence in Education

In recent years, the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been widely changed many aspects of our lives. For example, retailers understand consumer behaviour by analysing customer data through AI, and video game companies create immersive games with AI to enhance gaming experience. Education too has great potential to utilise AI for enhancing the quality of education by streamlining learning and teaching procedures.

What Is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?

Artificial Intelligence is the intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the human intelligence. It is applied when a machine mimics cognitive functions of humans, such as learning, memorising and problem solving, etc.

To Professor Pong Ting-chuen (Director of Center for Engineering Education Innovation; Professor of Computer Science and Engineering; Senior Advisor to the EVPP (Teaching Innovation & E-learning), The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology), AI has already impacted education.

How Does AI Impact Education?

Universities in the US have used AI for managing student admission and retention. As the students entering universities in the US are from different parts of the world with diverse cultural and social backgrounds, AI is used to analyse students’ data with measurable results for formulating the admission and retention policies that cater for the needs of the majority of students, thereby guaranteeing satisfactory university admission and completion rates, said Professor Pong.

AI has also been used to enrich learning and teaching experience. In some MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) provided by institutions around the world, robot tutors have been introduced to answer students’ questions 24/7. Adept in advanced machine learning, they are able to answer students’ questions correctly by learning from data and making predictions based on it, according to Professor Pong.

He continued that AI had been implemented for immersive learning. For example, Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR) can simulate realistic scenarios and create interactive virtual learning environments for learners to learn and practise skills.

AI is also helpful for promoting personalised learning. With the latest technologies, including eye tracking, facial expression recognition and sentiment analysis, a great variety of data reflecting students’ learning performance and pattern could be collected and studied, and the results could be used as references for designing or fine-tuning the existing learning and teaching formats and contents.

Goals and Challenges

Professor Pong said applying AI to learning and teaching could create more access to education.

’With these advantages I have mentioned regarding the implementation of AI in education, we can see that AI facilitates teaching and learning by eliminating geographical and time limitations,’ said Professor Pong.

Although AI has great potential to be widely used in education with positive outcomes, Professor Pong said there were still concerns over the safety of using AI.

Machine learning of AI relies on data collection and analysis which possibly arouse privacy concerns, he said. Therefore, it is essential to seek students’ consent if their data is to be acquired for further study. The main purpose of using AI was to bring convenience to our lives but not creating troubles and problems. Hence when we go further, we have to ensure that the development is under control.