Inclusive learning is no longer a concept found only on papers. Artificial intelligence is making inclusive learning a reality and helping the world embrace diversity. The blog talks of the role played by AI in the educational sector, especially w.r.t inclusive learning.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are now the key growth factors in various industries. AI has been making the same impact in the education industry. The use of technology is making inclusive learning a reality. Students with disabilities, language barriers, cultural differences, etc., can be a part of the same classrooms and taught along with the rest of the class. Artificial intelligence is making great headway in the education industry and bridging the gap between students and educators.
Based on a report by eLearning Industry, close to 50% of the learning management platforms will be powered by AI in just 3 years from now. The Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 has boosted online learning. With more schools, colleges, and educational institutions relying on technology to impart education, the need for AI/ML software applications has also increased. According to another survey, 85% of educators feel that AI technology will be an integral part of education.
Evolution of Education in Last Few Years – Major Trends
Democratization of Education
Students are no longer dependent on schools and colleges to study and gain knowledge. eLearning platforms provide the same level of education and certification, that too, in a way that’s more convenient to the students. Users have more access to resources and study material today than a few years ago.
There’s been a much-needed shift in the focus of educational policies. The NEP 2020 (National Education Policy, India) is the best example of how the policies will now focus on learners rather than the institutions.
Practical learning is just as important as theory. Technology has put practical and implementation-based learning at the forefront. It’s easier for students to understand the concepts and real-life applications.
Bringing Industry and Academia Together
Education is not limited to subjects and lessons. It should also include soft skills and developmental skills to help students enter the professional world with ease. Identifying leadership qualities and training students from a young age will make them better individuals at work. Technology is now making this possible.
Strengthening the Innovation Ecosystem
Innovation and experimentation are vital for change and development. The education industry is slowly shifting from fact-based learning to empowering students to be more creative, innovative, and think out of the box.
Inclusive learning – A Concept
Social, political, and technological aspects have brought forth a vital flaw in the education industry. The lack of inclusivity became a glaring sign of error that needs to be corrected as soon as possible. Luckily, inclusive learning is becoming a reality one step at a time.
What is Inclusive Learning?
It’s no secret that students have varying learning styles and personalities. Some are confident, while others are tentative. Some students have learning and speaking disabilities. A few have physical disabilities. Language, comprehension, economy, etc., are common barriers that make it difficult for students to learn and compete with others.
Inclusive learning aims to bridge these gaps and create an environment where a student with different abilities can learn in the same classroom, that too, without compromising on the quality of education. This is easier said than done.
However, thanks to technology, inclusive learning is steadily gaining momentum in different parts of the world.
Why is the World Pushing Towards Inclusive learning?
Bridges the Gap
The world needs inclusive learning because it bridges the gap between students by working on the differences (region, societies, value systems, beliefs, etc.) that set them apart from one another. This gives everyone a good chance to shine and prove their worth.
Right to Education
Every person in this world has the right to education. The lack of access to facilities or personal beliefs should not come in the way of educating a student. Inclusive learning helps students leverage their right to education.
Opportunity for All
What is AI in Special Education? Students with special needs have to be made a part of the social activities and presented with the same opportunities as others. It’s when people with intellectual and physical disabilities are given a chance to perform and prove their worth that we can create a holistic learning environment that promotes equality. Individualized learning focuses on areas of improvement to help students with special needs to compete with others.
Equality in Education
Though we are far from achieving equality among humans, we can make it happen by bringing equality to education. The aim is to provide equal rights to students from different backgrounds and abilities to help them achieve success.
The Basis for an Inclusive Society
When children learn to be more inclusive, they’ll grow up to create an inclusive society for others. Diversity and inclusivity are being given more prominence to make students understand that everyone is different and needs to be respected. Inclusive classrooms go a long way in preparing children to become assertive and empathic individuals.
A Better World
When children grow up understanding diversity, the world will naturally be a better place. Racism, cultural appropriation, and religious hatred will no longer cause humans to harm one another. Inclusivity at a young age leads to adults with more awareness.
What is the Role of Technology in Inclusive Education?
Custom-made solutions are the only way to train students with special needs as the types of disabilities are too varied to create a one-for-all solution. The aim of using technology in inclusive learning is to reduce the feeling of dependence. The course is charted in a way to make students more independent and rely less on the educator. This makes them feel confident to tackle situations on their own.
- Speech recognition technology makes it possible for students with special needs to record the lessons or convert handwritten text to speech.
- Augmentative communication and speech therapy classes are conducted online to help kids with speaking disabilities compete with other students in the classroom.
- AI-based translators assist students to bridge the gap between two or more languages. Students can learn in a language they understand.
- Students can rely on web-based learning and online classes to overcome geographical and distance barriers.
- Students who speak minority languages can use AI-based translation apps to understand the lessons in their native tongue.
How AI is contributing to Inclusive Learning
Human bias is an inherent part of our society. Artificial intelligence can help reduce and remove bias that comes in the way of the teacher-student relationship, especially when either of them belongs to different cultures, races, regions, etc. However, we need to ensure that the data fed into the AI systems are not biased.
AI eLearning platforms have been personalizing the content and the speed of training to suit the students. AI makes it easier for students with special needs to learn at their own pace without feeling stressed out.
Technology makes it possible for children from remote areas to access education which wasn’t possible during the earlier days. Even if there are no schools/ colleges in the area, children can still continue their education through eLearning apps. For example, MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) is a model that delivers online content and learning opportunities to anyone who wants to learn irrespective of physical attendance.
The advent of AI is gradually reducing the cost of education. Students can apply for online courses and certifications that are cost-effective and provide the same quality of education. This helps students from highly diverse backgrounds to have a chance at education.
Artificial intelligence is also helping teachers understand ways to teach students with special needs. AI in inclusive learning assists teachers to identify the right method of teaching and the right channel of communication to interact with a student from a different background.
Key Application Areas of AI for Inclusive Learning
Let’s look at the key application areas where artificial intelligence is playing a pivotal role in inclusive learning.
Virtual Teaching Assistants
We have to admit there is a definite gap in the demand and supply for qualified teachers/ educators. Virtual teaching assistants built using artificial intelligence bridge this gap by taking up the roles and responsibilities of a qualified trainer (to a major extent). Jill Watson is an AI-based virtual teaching assistant at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Multilingual Chat Bots/ Voice Bots
How do we overcome language barriers? AI chatbots with multilingual abilities are the answer. These chatbots and voice bots can personalize teaching and help teachers and students interact with each other. Duolingo is a popular multilingual AI platform with chatbots that help users learn languages without attending formal classes.
Adaptive Learning Management Systems (A-LMS)
ALMS is a system designed to tailor the resources, assignments, activities, tasks, etc., to suit the individual needs of each student. ALMS are also called adaptive learning environments and are built based on individual learner models. Prodigy Math is a perfect example of ALMS technology that teaches math easily to kids.
AI-Powered Test Generation and Evaluation Tools
Automated question generation solution like PrepAI helps develop an outcome-based learning approach to comprehensively assess the knowledge of each student. These platforms reduce the time and effort spent on non-teaching activities and give teachers more time to focus on students.
Be it Duolingo, PrepAI, or other AI-based platforms, artificial intelligence is becoming the core of the education industry. Teachers, students, and establishments will continue to rely more on advanced technology to create a better and student-centric learning environment.
Edtech consulting companies have a crucial role to play in this scenario. Educational institutions and eLearning platforms find it cost-effective to work with solution providers and customize AI software to suit their requirements. It’s time to embrace the changes AI brings education and take inclusive learning to every corner of the world.