A Few Practical Applications of Artificial Intelligence in Education

Carolanne Tremblay
Carolanne Tremblay

As part of the Semaine de la FAD organized by FADIO (Formation à distance interordre), Simon and I had the opportunity to give a conference: "Reflecting on artificial intelligence in education". If you missed it, here are the highlights.

Our goal was to discuss concrete applications of artificial intelligence in education while also explaining its mechanics.

What is artificial intelligence?

« Artificial intelligence is the concept whereby machines (computers) are able to perform tasks in a way that humans consider intelligent. »

What is business intelligence?

Business intelligence is a group of strategies used to make the most of data within an organization.

Business intelligence allows you to :

  • Better understand your student population;
  • Make decisions based on statistical analysis;
  • Obtain a real-time analysis of the data at our disposal;
  • Use machine learning algorithms to make predictions.

Artificial Intelligence in Education

AI in education must first and foremost allow school personnel to avoid cognitive overload. Technology’s job in supporting them is to help them with repetitive or analysis-heavy tasks.

The goal is to reduce the noise around them so that they can get back to the essential: building caring relationships with students.

Artificial intelligence is a tool to aid in decision-making, not a replacement for professional judgement.

Students are at the centre of the school’s concerns, so they must also be at the heart of reflections for the teams developing technological tools.

A Few Practical Applications

There are at least four concrete applications of AI in education that adhere to the aforementioned principles: predictive tools, adaptive learning platforms, chatbots and real-time analysis tools. Let's go over them one by one to gain an understanding of their value.

1 Predictive Tools

How do they work?

Predictive tools are based on models that use one or more databases. A team cleanses the data to ensure that it is suitable for analysis. The team then implements learning algorithms, validates the performance of these algorithms and puts them into production.

In concrete terms...

These tools allow for preventive interventions before risky situations can arise or escalate. They provide a portrait of the student population and help prepare staff members for what is to come in their schools.

In practice

ISA is a platform powered by artificial intelligence algorithms that use predictive models. This platform analyzes the academic records of students in higher education and, from the moment of admission, determines those who are at risk of dropping out, at risk of failure or on track to succeed.

Logo de ISA

2 Adaptive Learning Platforms

How do they work?

The platform starts by estimating a student's knowledge of a particular subject based on observable data. The platform then suggests exercises that target the student’s areas of difficulty.

In concrete terms...

Adaptive learning platforms promote pedagogical differentiation, help adapt each student’s academic path, allow students to reach their full potential and work on their weaknesses while highlighting their strengths.

In practice

Coaching Actuaries adapts practice exam generation according to the student's difficulties by measuring their progress while also targeting their weaknesses.

3 Chatbots

How do they work?

Chatbots are used in online platforms or mobile apps. They require natural language understanding tools to provide the most natural conversation possible for the user.

In concrete terms...

Chatbots can address many different topics and offer 24/7 support to the students who use them. This type of tool encourages contact with the new generation. Using certain chatbots can enable the implementation of positive strategies, facilitate exercises, support the development of metacognition, help with navigating websites or searching for information and much more.

In practice

Ali is a chatbot available in the mobile app of the same name. It is intended to provide support to college students in their post-secondary transition and for other types of difficulties they may encounter. Ali also facilitates contact between counsellors and students by allowing them to request support directly from the services offered by their college. It also provides users with a comprehensive toolkit customized by their school and an SOS button with emergency resources available 24/7. Of course, Ali also understands natural language, so users can chat with it in a way that feels natural.

Logo de ALI

4 Real-Time Analysis Tools

How do they work?

Analysis tools use advanced statistics on an organization's data. These analyses are deployed with the use of display tools that allow the statistical analyses to be viewed in real-time as new information is entered.

In concrete terms...

The real-time analysis tools provide a portrait of the current situation for school counsellors and teachers. These tools make it possible to carry out timely interventions and prevent risky situations from arising or getting out of hand. In addition, using these tools saves users time analyzing and speeds up the process of screening for difficulties among students. Lastly, they promote evidence-based communication between school counsellors, teachers and parents.

In practice

Mozaïk-Portail's Active Monitoring provides teachers, school counsellors and principals with a real-time portrait of their class or school. This portrait adjusts itself as new data is input. This tool makes it easier to carry out timely interventions with students and also helps in coordinating team efforts.

In Conclusion...

The most important thing to remember is that artificial intelligence should always be about saving time for school staff and avoiding repetitive tasks that cause cognitive overload. Technology should allow people to get back to what is essential and the reason they chose education in the first place: building caring relationships with students and a love of education.

Carolanne Tremblay

Product Owner

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