The world is always changing. And that’s a good thing, because wouldn’t life be boring if nothing new and exciting happened to push us forward? It seems like just yesterday, self-driving cars and robot vacuums were something out of a sci-fi movie. But the future has arrived and things are only moving faster and faster. One futuristic plot line that’s far from fiction is artificial intelligence (AI) in education. Surprise! It’s already begun and it’s going to change what learning—and the future job market—will look like for your kids. 

From your smart voice assistant (hi Siri and Alexa!) to the chatbot you just used when shopping online, artificial intelligence is all around us. Think of AI as a computer replacement for a task that typically requires an actual human brain. Most AI systems require what’s called machine learning to perform these tasks. A computer program starts to “learn” by recognizing patterns or completing a job. Then, the computer gets smarter over time, as it’s exposed to variations of the tasks and repeats them many times over. Kind of like us—practice makes perfect!

Post-secondary schools are embracing the benefits of Artificial Intelligence in education

Technology helps us every day—from getting traffic updates on our smartphones to adjusting our thermostats when we’re on our way home. Educational institutions are recognizing how AI can be a major benefit to both students and teachers. A 2019 survey by McKinsey and Company of teachers from four countries, including Canada, found that preparation, grading, and administration were the top areas where AI and automation could save teachers time. The report noted that reduced time in preparing questions, for example, allows teachers to spend more time on direct instruction. Canadian professors and administrators see a future in which data analytics can help to identify students who are falling behind. AI can also help students navigate course choices and vastly improve their research pursuits by connecting them precisely to the data or information they need. An analysis by experts at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia predicts an increased use of “teacherbots” that provide “fast answers to a wide set of predictable questions” and help to facilitate and monitor online learning, as well as assess students’ performance. In the future, Microsoft envisions smart classrooms, virtual workspaces and labs will complement personalized teaching.

Here are 5 good reasons to welcome Artificial Intelligence in education with open arms:

1. Another level of personalized learning

Look at your Netflix recommendations or the ads you get served when you browse the web. That’s AI at work. Now imagine that level of personalization at school. No child is the same, especially when it comes to how they learn. Artificial intelligence and machine learning can help adapt courses, reveal challenges and adjust teaching methods to best suit your child. Now that’s putting personalization to good use. 

A teacher’s work doesn’t end when the bell rings; they have to grade papers, answer student emails and prep for upcoming classes (to name just a few tasks). AI can help cut down on some of the administrative duties, especially grading, which can be an extremely time-consuming job. And remove the risk of human error or bias—even grading tests with written responses!  Technology is improving all the time, paving the way for teachers to rely on AI for more and more tasks.

3. AI-designed textbooks and online courses

Digital textbooks are replacing the traditional seven pounds of bound paper that sits in the corner and gathers dust soon after your course is finished. More affordable, more up-to-date digital versions of content will be online, updated regularly, and will be more customized to students’ needs. When it comes to courses themselves, AI can help to make real-time adjustments, provide assistance to students as they progress, and give teachers a heads up if a student is struggling.

In an effort to understand how a child’s emotional state impacts their learning, a team from the Department of Artificial Intelligence out of Spain is working on a robot that can identify a student’s emotional state from keystrokes and mouse movements. An algorithm gets put in place that selects the most appropriate educational support, ranging from encouragement to gestures, with the goal to motivate the student. So far, these robot tutors have been able to positively impact the student’s learning. 

It’s not just students who need support. Fortunately, artificial intelligence has the ability to keep teachers on their toes, too. As information is always changing, teachers will have the ability to continue educating themselves with comprehensive AI-powered material such as e-learning modules, customized classroom content, etc., that are available online any time of day. AI can also help provide more accurate feedback about the quality of learning students are receiving. For example an intelligent device, any device that has computing ability, could be used during lessons and help to evaluate the course, spotting areas of improvement for the future. 

What’s in store for the workforce of tomorrow? 

You guessed it, the jobs your kids or your grandkids are going to have will look much different than they do today. No, we’re not all going to be replaced with robots, but AI is certainly going to play a role in what types of jobs we need humans to do and what jobs can be automated. 

A move from routine knowledge to creative knowledge

In a 2016 Tedx Talk, Dr. Bernhard Schindlholzer, a technology manager working on machine learning and e-commerce, said he believes the demand for routine knowledge is going to decrease. Then went on to say that economic growth will come from non-routine creative knowledge work (AKA people designing solutions to solve problems in the world today). “There are an unlimited number of problems in the world, so there will always be work for someone who can solve real problems,” he says. This translates to careers under the umbrella of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), areas of study that will almost certainly be relevant and essential for jobs of tomorrow. 

Education in the future will rely on AI. Be ready with a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP).

With post-secondary tuition fees rising steadily, and technology and AI taking a front seat in the future of education, it’s now more important than ever to invest in your child’s education. By starting an RESP, you’re setting your child up for success by giving them the opportunity to do whatever post-secondary program they want, without while minimizing the burden of debt.

At CST Spark we’re all about helping you save and making it as easy as possible. You can start your RESP without getting up from the couch and we make sure you get apply for every government grant you qualify for. Plus, we invest your money with one goal in mind: that you can help pay for post-secondary school. So what are you waiting for? The future will be here before you know it,  so let us help you start putting away those loonies in an RESP. With matching government grants and tax-sheltered investment income while in the plan, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how fast it can add up.

CST Spark Education Portfolios is sold only by Prospectus.

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