Is AI destroying the education system?
While studying the prospects of a digital university, I met one of our finest vice-chancellors who have the vision to launch a true digital university. During our discussion, I was fascinated to hear him share the learning management system facilities and his master plan for a Tk 1,000-crore mega campus.
But I found myself scratching my head wondering how such a huge investment makes sense since the purpose of digital education is to take education home at the most affordable price.
Recently our regulatory authority has given the nod for blended learning, but not full-fledged digital learning. While the edtech business has revolutionised the education system globally, we are still talking about blended education and shying away from a full-fledged digital university. Those who feel proud of our education system are undoubtedly living in a fool's paradise!
While we are caught in the middle of traditional and digital education, the rest of the world is panicking over the death of education threatened by artificial intelligence (AI).
The hypothesis is that AI enables students to cheat in their assignments and thus, lose out on learning and undermine the system. The threat is unavoidable, and the concerns are well-founded. As a solution, we can first take steps to understand the threat and power of AI and use it to our advantage with mitigating actions that would lead to a positive transformation in learning and education.
AI can be a powerful tool for students to provide answers to questions, explain difficult concepts in simple terms, and suggest resources for further learning.
It can also provide personalised feedback and recommendations based on a student's strengths and weaknesses. Furthermore, it can help educators to improve their teaching by providing innovative ways to deliver content and engage with students.
Sal Khan of Khan Academy said in a Ted Talk, "We are going to transform education positively by giving every student on the planet an artificially intelligent but amazing personal tutor, and we are going to give every teacher on the planet an amazing artificially intelligent teaching assistant."
An AI-based tutor can be appointed to improve the performance of a student by catering to his/her strengths and weaknesses in a particular subject. The whole education process will simply be revolutionised.
The new method for a student will more likely be a little AI-based bot that will record the conversation and be accessible by the teacher. There will be a second AI-based bot that will moderate but not provide the answer, and hence it will not be a cheating tool.
When the student asks, "Tell me the answer", it will respond with, "I'm your tutor. What do you think is the next step for solving the problem?"
The teachings of these AI tutors are anticipated to excel that of an average tutor. In short, it will transform the education system, introducing revolutionary features, including a teacher and AI collaboration, individualised learning, and universal access for all students.
Therefore, the threat of AI may alternatively be considered as an opportunity to revolutionise the academic experience of our students in Bangladesh. However, what is required is immediate recognition of the threat posed by AI and the urgent need to transform our education system by its introduction and incorporation and solve our long-standing issue of not having an adequate number of quality teachers by affordable means.
Our authorities' prompt and needful action may well transform Bangladesh into a knowledge-based powerhouse.
The author is founder and managing director of BuildCon Consultancies Ltd