Artificial Intelligence is the process of making use of computers and machines to mimic human perception, decision-making, and other processes to complete a task. Put in other words, AI is when machines engage in high-level pattern-matching and learning in the process.
The two notable types of AI include the rules-based and machine learning-based option. The earlier makes use of decision-making rules to generate a response. A simple example of this type of education system includes an intelligent tutoring system (ITS), which can offer pre-programmed, and specific feedback to students’ requests. The response can be better trained based on prevailing input questions shared by the student’s audience. Machine learning-based AI offers more power to the education community because the machines can self-learn (through algorithms) and improve in their decision-making over time, particularly as they interact with enormous amounts of multiple-layered big-data (states can have districts datasets, which provide information for machine learning).
In the education space, machine learning-based AI tools can help in myriads of tasks and processes like monitoring student performance and automatically generating models that assist in predicting eventual outcomes, even recommending career paths (can be used to improve the career and education counseling options for secondary school students). The self-learning of machines has to date shown astounding results as regards complex solutions, especially those not governed by rules, like adding a score to students’ typed responses or providing analysis to huge amounts of complex datasets. The algorithms driven through mathematical models help to spot trends that are not very obvious and data inter-relationships especially with the desired output based on provided input available in the dataset.
Moreover, it is imperative to put the resources where our desires are, in order to ensure we can master our education process through a technology leapfrog. So much more is possible on the other side when our teeming youth population is initiated into the tech fantasy. AI-driven education can be customized to create whatever endpoints we desired and a good blend of learning materials and instruction can ensure desired consistent outputs. We, therefore, need to encourage tech education.
Here are some reasons we need to swiftly encourage technology education.
1. It breeds confidence and ensures students have the opportunity to enhance their interaction with their classmates and instructors by enabling collaboration. Secondary school students will feel more alive making use of technology in the classroom.
2. Making use of technology in the classroom ensures that teachers and other learning community members have the opportunity to develop their student’s digital citizenship skills. It’s one thing to make use of mobile devices, and a completely different thing to know how to use them correctly and responsibly.
3. Integrating technology in education helps students stay engaged. Attention span is on the low with so much distraction calling for them. Most students today have been using mobile devices like tablets and smartphones (as second nature) to play and learn since they could crawl. So, it only seems logical to ensure that today’s classroom experience is in sync with the way that the students want and are used to learning and having fun.
4. Combining new technologies like VR (virtual reality) with traditional classroom instruction is one example of how the introduction of new technology can enhance the learning experience and create new opportunities. Students can learn more practically and put the theories to test with little to no worries about possible hazards.
5. Technology transforms the entire learning experience. Students have access to an incredible amount of new information and opportunities. From learning how to write computer programs (coding) to learn how to better collaborate across small teams (on tasks and activities) and with their instructors, technology offers students the opportunity to be more creative and be more connected across distant communities. New technologies have grossly improved how we learn today, especially how we perceive the entire process end-to-end. There is so much we need to create effective ed-tech learning across the country.
Moreover, we are encouraged by the fact that state government in some locations like Lagos, is furnishing a lot of classrooms with tech tools or knowledge and computers. More definitely needs to be attended to in that regard for the country now like the provision of access to broadband internet. We also need to encourage lower price points for smart devices designed for school use, so that no child is left out in the laudable tech pursuit, but also very unfortunate that most ed-tech purchases are still based on word of mouth rather than practical evidence of effectiveness. We, however, should look forward to a greater emphasis on the use of evidence-based Edu-tech yet recognize that educators will need a lot of help in expanding their efforts to infuse an evidence-based culture when it comes to education technology in their schools and classrooms. It will be pleasing to find that, in some local governments, communities host tech-centers, and teacher leaders are taking up more prominent leadership roles that leverage their existing tech skillsets to lead their peers in AI-driven classroom technology use. Yet we also need to have functional libraries in other LGs as crowd-funded by communities and community ambassadors as leaders of the digital change. We need to heighten the campaign to encourage students to work with teachers and peers to become responsible digital citizens in their schools and communities while being aware that many low-income students, especially in urban and rural areas, lack internet access at home to complete their digital homework assignments and to use powerful digital tools at home to create, to solve, and to communicate, that other students with rich parents take for granted. The government needs to provide true level ground and allow children to have unhindered access to tech learning tools.
As a community, we need to take a step forward in understanding and recognizing how the active use of technology by early learners with adults can positively impact societal development and them. We therefore must be concerned with the number of children left alone for long periods of time with little to no digital engagement. Our world has gone digital and so must learning, assessment and schools. Non-profits can step in with programs to cushion and block some of the obvious gaps while offering digital learning labs that are open to secondary school students with tech-savvy guides. Some steps that could be adopted to move educators and participants closer to harnessing the advantages of AI and its uses in education technology include the foregoing:
First, the Academia and Entrepreneurship community must invest in R&D to understand how other knowledge-driven societies have made use of AI. A clear vision of the more desirable future of our education space where high-quality learning materials and instructions are available to all students, especially secondary level. Research can help us find what has worked in other economies while we tailor the same to our unique requirements.
On a second note, we need to invest in the development of new kinds of technology-driven learning environments. Given the amount of investment required, this can come through the coordination of the federal government. A special funding wallet can be opened for the advancement of educational technologies across secondary schools. Technologies like learning games, AI tools, and virtual reality learning environments can then be introduced at district levels, giving students central access for learning purposes. Like in the US, Every Student Succeeds Act, Nigeria can put policies behind what moves our education process forward. Government grants can also be introduced to develop tech education-focused learning. Driving technology through this funding definitely must make huge use of the media (social and traditional) to get the word out and encourage young adults to take tech courses — to serve as huge leverage.
Third, the federal and state government should invest in teachers’ professional development on the effective use of AI tools in classrooms. Teachers (custodians of the future we desire) should be nurtured into experts in the use of tech tools to enable them to customize learning supports for the specific needs of their students. Countries like Finland and Australia invest a lot in the support of teachers to effectively use tech tools in classrooms, and such countries could serve as guides to reproducing the same in our secondary schools.
In conclusion, effectiveness must be central to our ed-tech conversation to minimize waste and increase the efficiency of the systems. And to be effective, we need to measure all the way; for good measures, outcomes need to be clearly broken down into simple milestones and results that aggregate into the overall. For good results, we must think progressively and continue to improve what we create as we enjoy the deliverables of our productive efforts. I strongly believe that learning should be fun and approach to knowledge dissemination, made interesting for both learners and teachers. We definitely achieve more and often better results when we collaborate through working teams on what is most important to our existence as a community, state, or country.
Let’s create new narratives that continuously improve the digital conversations around effective delivery of tech education as I thank you for your time investment, yours in tech, Olufemi Ariyo.
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