Monday, June 11, 2018

Guest Post - How Artificial Intelligence will Empower Future Classrooms

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While formal education in several parts of the world is still associated with the widely-accepted traditional brick and mortar schools, the global education fraternity has opened up to e-learning.

E-learning equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) has an immense potential to revolutionize education.

The advent of AI has furthered the automation of cognitive activities. Along with gauging a student’s learning style and pre-existing knowledge, AI systems can meticulously design courses catering to the specific needs of the students.

To keep pace with the upcoming time, the education system needs to reinvent itself by integrating AI across subjects. AI can empower classrooms in diverse ways, contributing massively towards education.

The rise of AI-powered intelligent tutoring systems
According to Technavio, the global artificial intelligence market in the education sector 2016-2020 will grow at a CAGR of more than 39% by 2020. One of the primary factors fuelling this market growth is the adoption of intelligent tutoring systems (ITSs) in the learning process.

An ITS is an AI-based learning software capable of imitating the methods and dialog of human tutors to impart knowledge in real time and on demand. It has the capability to analyze complex human responses while imparting knowledge at the same time on subjects like science, mathematics, languages, medicine, and law.

Moreover, the learning system is the application of AI to the education that tracks students' work and offers a tailored feedback, comprehending their strengths and weaknesses and suggesting additional work.

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AI in classrooms: Next giant leap in education
Understand this, how a computerized chess program defeats a grandmaster. Just imagine what goes into making such a software and what AI is capable of doing. It can do data-driven analysis and make decisions faster than the humans.

Artificial Intelligence has already made its presence felt in the transportation and medicine industries and is all set to make a big impact in the education sector too. Let’s look at what it will offer.

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● AI will offer a personalized approach
Every student has a different pace and style to process information; every teacher understands that. In the traditional classroom model, a teacher with finite resources has to teach the whole class at once. Therefore, personalizing content to meet the diverse needs of each student is impracticable.

However, such personalization is possible with e-learning supported by advanced artificial intelligence. AI can easily identify students’ strengths and weaknesses and advise apposite methods based on their level of mastery and comprehension of concepts, resulting in a more worthwhile learning experience for students.

● AI will bring down the cost of education
While college fees continue to rise, getting a basic, quality education and then a recognized degree at a brick and mortar institution can be crippling for students and families. For higher education students, the costs of attaining a quality education without obtaining a scholarship are often seen to be prohibitive.

AI will not replace teachers anytime soon. However, it will do away with the mundane teaching work such as the maintenance of classrooms, staff perks, and administrative hassles. Academic institutions can employ fewer teachers to cater to the same number of students or even more and hence making education less expensive for students.

● AI will create an immersive learning experience
Learning through hands-on activities is way different than just passively listening to a lecture. Hence, hands-on activities are important and count as a form of experiential learning. They are fun yet time-consuming and sometimes unmanageable especially with a large group of students. How do we overcome that challenge?

Immersive technology with new wearable devices like Microsoft HoloLens and augmented reality can be the solution. With the support of AI providing tangible, customized learning, it makes learning more exciting, fun and practical. Concepts can become characters and activities can be storylines.

Students can explore and ‘immerse’ themselves in the topics they are learning. They will engage more when they see and interact with dinosaurs or stomata instead of just reading about them in a textbook.

● AI will assist in concept building
AI-enabled virtual tutors understand the questions asked and instantly provide easy-to-understand answers to the students. This aids students to have strong basics with correct know-how, to not cumulate confusions and to save time.

Earlier, e-learning was focused on sterile problem-solving approaches for reaching correct answers. But with AI, the method used to derive the right answer is as important as the right answer. It is necessary to adapt to abstract concepts and practicality.

● AI will support adaptive learning
Apart from answering questions on demand, the latest AI teaching systems are capable of spotting topics where students are lagging behind and helping them to focus on them. They assist teachers to recognize weak students and implement a more efficient way of teaching.

AI provides updated a courseware and more inclusive pedagogy, transforming how students engage with the material. With millions of students using the adaptive learning approach, it seems to have a bright future.
Scope of artificial intelligence in education
Excessive dependence on technology in classrooms may be a reason of concern for many but the fact is that the AI’s ability to offer flexibility in teaching is unmatchable.

With EdTech industry developing a range of products and services to supplement classroom learning, there is no doubt that the future of AI is promising. Being in the nascent stage, AI has to make a lot of progress.

Nevertheless, AI will become more and more integrated into the education system, becoming vital in classrooms as students and educators will reap benefits from a fastidious, effective, and more individualized approach to education.

Author Bio

Ashmita Tamta writes academic content for Collegedunia, a college information and review site. She is an avid follower of the trends in educational technology. Her articles have appeared on the portals of Southwest Londoner, Indian Express, Business World, Afternoon DC, among others. 


Thursday, June 7, 2018

Visme - online visual communication tool - create stunning visuals

Visme is a relatively new service that just came out of Beta. It is visual communication tool that is easy to use and creates a great finished product. It has been described as a "PowerPoint disruptor".

You can create presentations, infographics and more, while gathering resources and images, all in one place. You can create stunning visual products all in your browser.

It is easy to use, with hundreds of templates and millions of photos and icons that you can use. You can make your designs interactive as well, with charts, maps, video, audio, links and more.

You can then easily share your design, publish it to the web, or download it.

There is also an Education version that lets educators and students create beautiful interactive presentations, infographics and reports.

Visme is the only platform you need to any type of visual content for use within the classroom. Create virtually any type of visual content for use within the classroom.

Visualize data, stats and figures

Choose from hundreds of beautifully made templates, millions of professional images, and thousands of icons. Access Visme's easy-to-use, drag-and-drop features to create eye-catching infographics, presentations, reports, social graphics, and more.

Here is a 2-minute explainer video (what Visme is):

You can try it out here for free:


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

CK-12 and Google Classroom - great resources that are better together

Assign CK-12 Content Direct to Google Classroom

Did you know you can assign content from CK-12 directly to Google Classroom?

CK-12 has some amazing and diverse resources to help students learn and explore. It is one of my single most favorite resources to share with teachers and students.

You can assign reading material, adaptive practice, videos, simulations, and more from CK-12's standards-aligned content library directly to your students in Google Classroom.
  • Reads
  • Videos
  • Real World Applications (RWAs)
  • Adaptive practice
  • Quizzes
  • Simulations (SIMs)
  • PLIX

Grades are automatically reported to your GradeBook in Google Classroom saving time and effort.

You can connect your existing CK-12 account by signing in, going to account settings and connecting your Google account under "Connected Social Accounts" section.



School is almost out - reflecting on the past year as a teacher

We are quickly approaching the end of the school year.

The weather is getting warmer, students are getting excited, and teachers are exhausted. It is a time for celebration and reflection.

One thing I always did around this time of the year when I was a teacher was to reflect on the past year. What worked? What went right? What went wrong? How did I handle classroom management issues? How well did my students learn? Lots of questions to answer and get ready for next year. I did this throughout the year too, but this is the point where I really felt I could get some good information and feedback to plan and make changes for the following year.

One thing I did as an evaluation of the year was to have my students fill out a survey about the class and their experience. It asked them to rate things such as was the classroom and equipment (labs and projects) adequate, was enough time given for demonstrations and review, how well did the teacher answer student questions, and their thoughts on assignments and work given. It also asked about me: did I set a climate that was conducive to learning, did I effectively communicate with students, did I address their needs and issues, and were the teaching methods effective. I also have space for them to write comments about what they liked about the class and what they think should be improved. They can put their name on it or it can be anonymous.

I did take the surveys with a grain of salt. Some students wrote all "4" (highest score) and some complain that everything was too hard. But I did get a lot of great feedback and ideas. Some times I was surprised by the level of sophistication that I my students had and how insightful they were about their classes. (I've also used this model with pre-service teachers).

After I had read through all of the surveys and taken notes, I sat and thougt about the whole year. I tried to be critical of things so that I could really evaluate how things went. I would then implement some of the things I'd come up with and some of the things my students noted, but I also kept my lessons flexible so that I can modify them once I've met my students the following year and saw what they are like and what they need. I believed in constantly assessing how I was doing as an educator and how well my students were learning and changing and modifying things as needed throughout the year. The end of the year and summer are great times to come up with lots of different ideas so that I have a collection of ideas to use next year.

I used Google Forms for the survey to get more feedback from the students throughout the year. It was easy to use and easy to analyze the data.

What do you do in your classroom at the end of the year to keep students focused and engaged?
How do you evaluate teaching and learning in your classroom?

What do you do at the end of the year and summer to prep for the next year?


Friday, May 11, 2018

PDF Candy - free online PDF editor and converter - lots of great features

PDF Candy is a site I just found out about from a colleague from up in Canada. It is an amazing collection of free, online tools to edit and manage PDF files.

PDFs are one of the most common file formats used to share data and documents. Being able to edit and manipulate them is important. PDF Candy provides a robust, free, online tool set for working with PDFs. There is even a Windows download app.

It is available in 15 different languages and is very easy to use.

You can convert from PDF to formats like Word, JPG, DOCX, PNG and more and you can convert Word, JPG, DOCX, HTML, EPUB, MOBI and more to PDF. In addition, you can compress, merge, split PDFs, delete and rearrange pages, extract images and text and other tools.

Check it out and see if it is useful to you. More PDF resources can be found here.


PDF tools, resources, and much more



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