Wittenborg CEO Panellist at World Summit AI

AI Has Role to Play in Reducing Drop-Outs, Personalising Education and Assisting with Admin

Wittenborg CEO Maggie Feng spoke about how Artificial Intelligence (AI) will transform studying in the future by providing tailor-made education to individuals and changing the role of teachers during the World Summit AI held in the Netherlands last week.

Feng was part of the Women in AI panel discussion in Zaandam on innovative practices in education and how AI is changing the industry, along with 4 other panellists, all leaders in their field. The discussion was moderated by Dr Cara Antoine, CMO and COO at Microsoft Netherlands.

The theme of the discussion was AI in Education: The current challenges and the fields where improvements can be made with the help of AI. The premises of the talk was that throughout history, education has always been the underlying foundation for economic growth, innovation, and societal advancements. What used to be the norm - filling a classroom with students who follow a lecture and take notes - is not working anymore.

Now it is believed that to have the maximum outcome of educational efforts, content needs not only to reflect modern reality but also to be personalised and tailored to the learning capabilities of all students. With the application of AI, educational institutions now can analyse the learning patterns among their students - their levels of knowledge, the ways they learn best, and the triggers of disruption in processing content.

Changing the Way We Teach

Feng told the audience: "AI will transform our teachers’ roles. It will allow teachers to be more of an observer, a mentor, a coach. Imagine AI is taking over the knowledge transfer and students are learning at their own speed and following their own learning methods, then a teacher can focus more on emotional development of the children in the classroom. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?"

Reducing Drop-Outs

She believes that, in the education sector, AI has a role to play in the recruitment of students as well as in reducing dropouts. "Through AI, data around student performance, emotional instability, financial arrears and much other information can be collected, so the right person at an institution can act on the problem quickly and effectively. This will reduce drop-outs.

"From a school leader or employer’s point of view, AI will help to reduce a great deal of the administrative workload for teachers, lecturers, educators and, therefore, will allow them to focus more on the actual teaching, coaching or mentoring. This will surely increase the employee retention of teachers that we need so much currently.

"AI will also transform how we learn. It is already transforming it.  It can help everyone learn in a more differentiated and individualised way, since it can consider the different starting points, backgrounds and characteristics of the learners. AI, therefore, has more ability to support learners with difficulties, whatever the type of difficulty the learner has."

On the question of how AI will make its mark in the world in the next 5 - 20 years, Feng said:
"Back in the 90s everyone was saying that in 2020 enormous changes and developments would take place, with cars flying and extremely advanced technology being used in our everyday life. However, developments are taking place slower than we anticipated. This is exactly what I believe for AI in the next 20 years. There is no doubt that it will be much more powerful than it is today, but less autonomous than we fear. Definitely, it will be very efficient in predicting what we need and like, and I can envision AI evolving rapidly in healthcare and transportation. However, companies will still be run by humans, even though a lot of tasks and roles will be delegated to machines."

Fears around AI

On what she fears most in relation to the application of AI, Feng said: "The fear of the unknown. AI is criticised for misuse and privacy issues. People don’t participate in the decision making on AI, and they don’t know what the next phase for AI integration in our society entails."

The four other panellists were: Linda Frietman, Founder and CEO of IamProgrez, Hanan Salam, Co-Founder of Women in AI, Anna Nordell-Westling, Co-Founder and CEO of Sana Labs, and Tamar Neter-Gans, Founder of Robowise.

WUP 16/10/2019
by Anesca Smith
©Wittenborg University Press