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Artificial intelligence for real education

• School-going students these days are enjoying numerous interesting pedagogies like going to labs, virtual excursions of the things that they studied in their textbooks & educational field trips.
• Artificial Intelligence (AI) based gaming applications are facilitating a change in the way knowledge is transferred, and are getting increasingly popular among the learning community in India.
• The education sector is set to spend more than US$ 6 billion annually on augmented and virtual reality technologies by 2023.
• For facilitating greater adoption of AI in the education sector, the government can play a major role by offering financial incentives to educational institutions.

Do you remember the time when learning was all about listening to boring monologues of school professors and college professors? Well, not anymore! The students these days are enjoying numerous interesting pedagogies like going to labs, virtual excursions of the things that they studied in their textbooks and educational field trips.

Even more significantly, Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based gaming applications are getting increasingly popular among the learning community in the country and facilitating a change in the way knowledge is transferred. Thus, applications like Playshifu and AR Flashcards are gaining traction in the country and stalwarts in ed-tech industry like Byju’s are venturing into AI. Further, industry experts have predicted that the education sector is set to spend more than US$ 6 billion annually on augmented and virtual reality technologies by 2023.

The use of Artificial Intelligence in education offers a string of benefits to students, the most obvious one being making learning fun and freeing them from the boundaries of school desks and encouraging integration of knowledge faster through hands on experience. One such form of AI, Augmented Reality (AR), for instance, sparks interest in students by allowing children to take a virtual sneak peek into the animal kingdom or the mysterious world of insects and birds through 3D visualisation and interactive games. Thus, from reading about animal kingdom to virtually experiencing it, AR takes learning a step forward than the quintessential blackboard teaching by clubbing the real world with technology to create a layer of digital over the physical. It will also foster an ecosystem for faster acquirement of information and skill since it empowers pupils with visual enhancement, propelling them to understand concepts faster.

Another form of AI, Virtual Reality (VR) goes a step further by allowing users not only see it but also interact with it. One such app that is deploying this technology is Google Expeditions – offering a collection of field trips ranging from the Colosseum in Italy to an excursion to Venus for regular smartphone users comprising of VR panoramas. Thus, this form of learning also helps in transgression from one-size-fits-all model to a personalized learning methodology. VR can also help students understand challenging subjects like learning anatomy of the human body. Further, it can bridge the gap between educators and learners since teachers can teleport into the VR world and guide students through their experiences.

This empathetic experience allows students to put themselves in the other person’s shoes and understand what a discipline encompasses, thereby making informed career choices. Further, AI will also bridge the gap between education systems and labor markets by enabling education systems to be more prepared to cater to the needs of future employers. This is significant for a country like India which, by 2030, will have the largest number of young people in the globe. This will be a blessing only if these young people are skilled enough to join the workforce; only then will it pave the road for India to be a truly developed economy.

Last, but not the least, universities with AI infrastructure would end up attracting more students not just from India but also from abroad. This would bring major gains for the country as India no longer is a globally sought after destination for higher education. The lack of proper infrastructure like hostels, dormitories, hygienic canteens, comfortable chairs, tables that are not rickety and audio-visual equipment has been a major barrier to foreign entry according to some experts. Having fewer overseas students will also undermine India’s foreign wealth.

To sum up, that AI offers numerous benefits for students and its application in Indian education system is likely to grow is an irrefutable fact. However, for this to happen, the Indian government and private sector will have to work towards democratisation of knowledge and invest in providing the best facilities to the students in this area. It needs to recognize academic institutions, and provide fiscal support to establish centres of excellence focusing on core technology research in AI. Another critical step would be to encourage higher educational organisations in India to adopt credit-bearing massive open online courses (MOOCs) in their curriculum which are related to AI.

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