Ethical Education: Can AI Make Higher Education Fairer?
Let's see if AI can make higher education fairer.
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AI has become something of a dirty acronym. The notion that robots will rise up and take our jobs is a popular one today, and Forbes’ Blake Morgan believes that up to 45% of current job roles are ripe for automation.
So the machines are bad news for workers? There are lots of questions surrounding the ethics of automation, but the answers are encouraging. Will artificial intelligence take over a portion of the jobs that humans do today? Yes, but AI will open up plenty of opportunities for work through highly intuitive education and re-training programs.
Artificial intelligence has the power to enhance the quality of education that people of all ages, genders and backgrounds receive thanks to the unique, ethical and scalable HE modules that the technology can deliver and offer feedback on.
In a Higher Education landscape that’s often been blighted by exclusivity through high tuition fees and fewer progression opportunities for disadvantaged students, AI leverage a revolution in fairer learning.
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Despite some fears over the disruptive effects of artificial intelligence in workplaces worldwide, there’s plenty of cause for optimism for the arrival of AI within Higher Education.
Today, teachers uphold rigid curriculums where all students are required to learn at the same pace and are graded on their competencies at pre-determined dates. However, with the help of artificial intelligence, learning can become a considerably more flexible process for students.
In what it’s labeling as ‘Education 4.0,’ EdTechnology sees AI leveraging a more ‘adaptive learning experience’ in the near future, with the technology capable of assisting teachers in their assessments and alerting them to a pupil that may be in need of help.
Such sentiments are echoed by University 20.35, a Higher Education platform that’s already in development in Russia. In the coming years, it aims to deliver a bespoke Higher Education experience to 100,000s of remote learners through the use of AI. The system aims to analyze each student’s ‘digital footprint’ before delivering a personalized program of modules to complete that compliments their perceived skill set.
Elimination of Bias
Artificial intelligence can help to forge a level educational playing field beyond the act of inclusivity. By drawing on a diverse team of developers to put AI algorithms in place, educational programs can be delivered with very little risk of any ingrained bias being offloaded onto students.
Ingrained bias can often be passed on to students in a subconscious manner and can ultimately cloud judgments and undermine a pupil’s capacity to learn.
Naturally, bias can be an issue that clouds tutours’ judgments when it comes to analyzing submitted work. Some subjects can provoke subjective opinions, and it could subconsciously affect a student’s grade if they produce work that a reviewer disagrees with, in an ideological sense.
The key perk of introducing artificial intelligence as a tool for marking students’ work comes from having a completely impartial entity on-hand to mark and grade submitted work. Bias can creep into tutors’ mindsets without them even realizing and the results can potentially be damaging to students. The cause of bias could come from anywhere, too - perhaps a disruptive student submits a high-quality essay that gets unfairly graded due to a teacher’s lack of faith in their pupil.
Relieving Educator Burdens
Student life away from lecture halls and classrooms can be made fairer by AI also. In fact, there are plenty of institutions that are already hard at work in utilizing chatbots to help assist students at all hours - relieving tutors of heavy burdens.
Staffordshire University is one institution that’s making headway in the chatbot stakes with their handy little helper, Beacon. Implemented as a means of bringing useful troubleshooting information to students at all hours, Beacon is a cloud-based service that comes equipped with over 400 answers to frequently asked questions from topics such as campus facilities, and support services as well as more personalised information like individual student timetables and their best point of contact for personal tutors.
Speaking about Staffordshire University’s latest staffing addition, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Sue Reece said: “The new app will help us to build positive relationships with our students and even flag up those who may need additional support so that we can better cater for their needs.”
Automation is on its way, but while some are greeting the arrival of artificial intelligence with trepidation, it’s important to take a look at the positive changes already being made within the field of education.
The future is never certain, but as long as AI endeavors to pave the way for a fairer learning environment for Higher Education students, we should look to embrace the innovative future ahead.
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