For a while now, industries have benefited from embracing automation and artificial intelligence. This has led individuals to build more comprehensive expertise and knowledge by freeing them of repetitive or administrative tasks which tend to drain motivation and stunt growth.
Pre-pandemic, education had always been slow to implement emerging technologies, but COVID revealed this weak link between the cyber-physical when instructors tried to teach their students through virtual instruction. To help fix this, a proposed solution was to deploy an artificial intelligence capable of improving the teaching and learning, to evolve with the industry so that the education system can follow businesses and so-called “mega-corporations,” suggested by Forbes, to “ensure the advancement of learning and prepare their students for jobs roles incorporating enterprise AI.” In this context “Enterprise AI” refers to the use of “advanced machine learning and cognitive skills” to find critical data within the mess and then distribute it in a manner that humans can understand which could reveal previously unknown variables.
How has technology already changed the way we educate ourselves?
At the start of the new millennium, technology penetrated education via the radio, sparking “over the air classes for any student within listening range,” later the overhead projector replaced the “magic lantern,” the invention of the ballpoint pen in the 1940s , later the creation of headphones in the ‘50s then the introduction of videotapes a year later. The photocopier in the early ‘60s and the calculator in the ‘70s allowed for the mass production of material and quick mathematical calculations. The Scantron system in the early ‘70s allowed the grading of tests to be quick and efficient. These advancements are what is known as the foundation of Education 2.0.
When personal computing became affordable and portable along with the commercialization of the internet in the early 1990s, user-generated content exploded. The educational community had gone into “a frenzy of newfound research and communication methods” according to Purdue University.
Later roughly “by 2009, 97% of classrooms had one or more computers, and 93% of classroom computers had internet access. For every five students, there was one computer,” according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
The rise of social networking such as MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter has changed the way we as a society communicate news and information along with connecting to other people across the world who may never have met thanks to this medium. That also meant people across the world could now publicly express their ideas through a forum previously not possible.
Nowadays almost everyone has a way to connect to this web of connections. Educause found roughly 91% of college students own a laptop, 95% own a smartphone, and 36% own a desktop in 2019. These elements are what is known as the foundation of Education 3.0
What will be needed for Education 4.0? What will it bring to the table?
Now the future of education is being discussed around the world. What sectors of technology need to be advanced to lay the foundation for Education 4.0? Already we are seeing the beginning of some implementations of some of these technologies. The most controversial implementations seem to be facial recognition and biometrics, which could give more fuel to the already unstable political landscape of the world regarding civil rights. However, the benefits in the case of facial recognition would be increased security and accessibility to services such as counseling and informational support.
Biometrics on the other hand provides more benefits, such as a suitable replacement for library cards, dispute truancy, and accessibility to more personal education. This technology can recognize the physical and emotional disposition of students which can alter the course material to address the individual’s needs based on their biometric signals.
Another technology to be implemented would be affordable devices capable of augmented reality, which would revolutionize how instructors interact with students in activities such as STEM to provide a more hands-on learning approach in a safe environment without the risk of fatal injuries or death when operating machinery. In medicine, this technology would provide access to opportunities such as watching surgeries in real-time and a better grasp of concepts of human anatomy in simulations or models. In history, this would enable instructors to use drone image capture technology to create a 3D reconstruction of significant moments in time such as historical World War II sites.
How will artificial intelligence benefit education?
However, what caused this to be popularized was the discussion of introducing artificial intelligence, robotics, or other “smart technologies” etc. to education by combining it with programs that offer students the opportunity to dive into the industry they are interested in. The benefit that would come from this advancement would be to better understand the student, instructor, and industry to best optimize education to best suit the market of supply and demand. This would mean changing the educational landscape as a whole in order to allow quick adaptation to the ever-changing world while also providing quality education that matters.
Did you know that “out of the 61% of Americans who’ve earned a two- or four-year degree, about 39% among them can’t find a job or working in a career that doesn’t require the degree they originally studied” according to finder.com. This new system will ensure that this won’t ever happen again in the future, as students will have an assurance of readily available resources at their disposal to check their job outlook, median pay, employment change, etc. likely monthly or in real-time, unlike the occupational outlook handbook which updates annually. To better prepare them for evolving industries, especially with the rising threat of automation according to Mckinsey Digital research, “60% of all vocations could have at least third of their tasks automated as the result of the fourth industrial revolution” which is to be expected as technology has given us the flexibility to be adaptable which was most prominent when employees from technology companies claim to be more productive, then realize they can significantly reduce their footprint working remotely.
The purpose of bringing Education 4.0 into fruition
Not all automation is bad though, in education according to Forbes, “Teachers devote a significant portion of their time to administrative tasks. The application of artificial intelligence and machine learning in education can aid in the automation of activity grading and assessment.” This would allow teachers to spend more time with their students and improve their lessons or courses. The end goal of education 4.0 is ultimately to offer a truly personalized learning experience while not replacing the human aspect of education by instead assisting instructors to better understand each student of their potential and limitations. The data collected from the intelligence would allow teachers access to real-world constructive criticism, along with benefiting students to access immediate feedback to find out where they went wrong. To have education following industry needs instead of falling behind or one day stay ahead as the more data pumped into the intelligence the more accurate its predictions.