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September 5, 2017

A.I. For Education

The future of education is here, that’s for sure. More and more people are realising the complete ineffectiveness of regular schools. In short – it’s clear that no two children are the same, so there is absolutely no reason they should be educated in the same way.

But, there are far too many students to have a teacher guide each child on a unique path that suits them and their strengths.

Enter A.I. to augment teaching and create personalised schooling.

To understand how this could work – I’ll take you on a quick tour of how the brain learns things.

Imagine a forest with many small cottages in them. These cottages have been abandoned many, many years ago and absolutely everything is overgrown. You get to the edge of the forest, and in the distance you can see one cottage that you want to get to.

So you set out through the thick brush and weeds and make it half way by the end of the day. It’s getting dark so you turn back and go home to get some rest.

The next morning you enter the forest in the same place and start along that same pathway that is a bit easier to traverse up until the point you reached yesterday, and when you get to that point you reached yesterday you keep pushing and cutting through the thick vegetation and eventually you get to the cottage you wanted to reach.

In the cottage you find many interesting things – a whole new world opens up to you because of what you found there. It’s getting dark, though, so you head back home for the day.

The next day you come back and take that same path to the cottage in the forest, which is obviously easier now because you cleared the way yesterday. Over the next few weeks you come there every single day, treading the path in so much that you can run back and forth easily because there is such a clear opening between the edge of the forest and the cottage.

The illustration above shows exactly how you learn things. There are pathways in your brain that need constant strengthening by you to learn what you want to learn, to “get to the cottage through the thick brush.”

The thing is, if a child at school doesn’t see the value in learning a new thing, or “going to the cottage”, or if it isn’t in line with what they are uniquely good at, there’s no real point in trying to force them to go there – they should rather go to cottages they want to be at, and explore paths in the forest that interest them.

Perhaps they should at least take one trip to each cottage, but if they don’t find anything interesting there, then that’s ok, they can rather visit the ones they do want to spend time at.

That’s where A.I. can come in.

It’s obviously unsustainable and ineffective for each child to have a personal teacher that monitors which things they enjoy and are good at, and then that same teacher crafting a path for each specific child – it just wouldn’t work.

For A.I. to help out, we need education to happen exclusively online. This way we can passively monitor what each child does and their performance. We can also get real feedback from the child and chart the course ahead automatically – something that would be impossible if we still used physical books.

Another benefit of education being online is that the content can be updated to be relevant and current very easily. This will make education more effective too.

So there’s basically 3 steps.

  1. Make education happen online exclusively (maybe have 3 or 4 different platforms only).
  2. Integrate A.I. into those platforms to monitor the progress of each child against predefined metrics.
  3. Use that information and real feedback to adjust the curriculum for each child.

It shouldn’t be that hard, and we don’t even need the regulatory authorities on board – we just need it to be so effective, and to produce such well-educated children that no one can ignore it.

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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