Weekly Brief: How to Learn About AI, How AI is Affecting Education


This week we look at education approaches for coming up the learning curve in AI, and also how AI is being applied to education, leading to innovations for K-12 learning, higher education and for workplace professionals.

A recent study by KPMG has an optimistic viewpoint on the impact of advances in AI on the job market. The growth of cognitive technologies such as AI will lead more than 75% of tech leaders to increase hiring in IT to manage deployments, according to the new KPMG report.

“The tech CEOs’ commitment to hire across the board shows the strategic value they see in cognitive technologies, and they are building the organizational structure their company will require to execute their strategy,” stated Tim Zanni, global and US chair of KPMG’s Technology, Media and Telecommunications practice. This argues for managers to make an effort to go up the learning curve on AI.

Students interested in learning about AI should add it to their foundation studies, but still concentrate on the fundamentals, advises David Ledbetter, a Senior Data Scientist at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, who recently hired for two new data scientist positions.

“I am looking for math, computer science, physics, chemistry and biology. Those strong fundamentals are so critical to every aspect of what we do,” he told AI Trends. “The specifics of coding in Python or constructing deep learning models with Keras, learning [Python] pandas to manage the data — those are easier to train. But the fundamentals are the foundation on which everything rests.”

What follows are some recent developments around AI education.

New Harvard Business Review Series Explores the Business of AI 

Harvard Business Review recently launched a two-week series, “Artificial Intelligence, For Real,” that offers a manager’s guide to AI. The program kicked off on July 18 with an article from MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee exploring the real potential of AI for businesses, its practical implications, and the barriers to adoption.

“The effects of AI will be magnified in the coming decade, as manufacturing, retailing, transportation, finance, health care, law, advertising, insurance, entertainment, education, and virtually every other industry transforms their core processes and business models to take advantage of machine learning,” write Brynjolfsson and McAfee. “The bottleneck now is in management, implementation, and business imagination.”

The series – which also features a look inside Facebook’s AI workshop, a video of celebrity chef Ming Tsai cooking recipes created by IBM’s AI, and more – will culminate in a live webinar event on July 25 (12pm ET) with Andrew Ng, former chief scientist of Baidu, and HBR editor in chief Adi Ignatius.

For more information and to register for the webinar, go to Harvard Business Review.

Online education firm Lynda.com extending to AI

Lynda.com, an online education company founded in 1995, recently added “Introduction to Python Recommendation System for Machine Learning,” one hour and 38 minutes, taught by Lillian Pierson, a professional engineer, book author and entrepreneur in the field of big data and data science. Lynda.com is now part of LinkedIn Learning, after being acquired in 2015 for $1.5 billion.

Lynda.com has more than 500 employees worldwide and offers instruction in English, German, French and Spanish. Basic courses start at $20/month; premium courses start at $30/month Lynda.com offers 158 courses in data science.

Lynda.com was founded by Lynda Weinman, a special effects animator and multimedia professor who founded a digital art school, as online support for books and classes. In 2002, the company began offering courses online. By 2004, it offered 100 courses. In 2008, the company began producing and publishing documentaries on creative leaders, artists, and entrepreneurs.

Clients include NBC Universal Autodesk and AllianceData.

Learn more at Lynda.com.

Middle schools can learn engineering at UC Berkeley camp

This summer fortunate middle school students in the Berkeley, Calif. Area can attend a camp for aspiring engineers. The Family 1st Architecture Camp, being held at UC Berkeley’s Wurster Hall, was founded by Jeremiah Tolbert and Camero Toler, alumni of the College of Environmental Design. He founded the camp to expose under served youth to architecture, engineering and construction.

The camp It was launched In partnership with the AIA East Bay and 1st Family Foundation – a locally-focused nonprofit founded by Oakland natives and National Football League players Joshua Johnson, a quarterback with the New York Jets, and Marshawn Lynch, a running back for the Oakland Raiders, who earned recognition for his performance with the Cal Bears before turning pro.

Savion Green of East Oakland enrolled in the camp three years ago when he was 11. He has lived in some tough neighborhoods, including Crenshaw and Hawthorne in LA and the Fillmore in San Francisco. He lost his father to homicide when he was a year old. Now, Savion is a mentor in the engineering camp. (In photo above, Savion Green (middle) is flanked by architect and volunteer instructor Omar Haque, (left) and teacher and volunteer Shalonda Tillman (right).)

He is mapping out a path to become an engineer, focusing on robotics and nanotechnology, in the hopes of making the world a better place. He credits his transformation to the summer engineering camp.

“I was kind of arrogant,” Savion told Berkeley News. “School came very easy for me and I was just bored with the stuff I was learning because I already knew it.”

Savion says neither of his choices that summer when he was 11 were appealing: summer classes or camp. He chose camp, even though he was clueless what architecture or engineering even meant. Once there, he learned to use computers to draw and design buildings and even cities. “I was so inspired,” he says.

Now Savion is supplementing his high school courses with local college courses, so that when he graduates, he will have close to an associate of arts degree. “I can go straight to MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).” Second choice: Stanford University. Third: UC Berkeley.”

He aspires to earn a Ph.D. in nanotechnology and to find a cure for cancer. Meanwhile, today he works two jobs – one is counseling other youths about growing healthy foods and cooking nutritious meals, and the other is doing janitorial work for his uncle. This enables him to save money to build robots.

“I plan on starting my own company, selling my own robots, and just make life easier for people with this technology,” he says. “I really want to change the world.”

Learn more about the Family 1st Architecture Camp.

AI Causing Transformation in Education: K-12, Higher Ed, Corporate Training

AI is having an impact on the way education is delivered for the three segments of the education market: K-12, higher education and corporate training.

As reported in Venture Beat, in the K-12 market, we are seeing the effect of the newer, more rigorous academic standards (Common Core, Next Generation Science Standards) shifting the focus toward measuring students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills and preparing them for college and career success in the 21st century. In higher education, we are seeing the shift toward online learning through MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and SPOCs (Small Private Online Courses) as a way to deal with the burgeoning problem of student debt. In corporate learning, we are seeing the shift toward virtual training, as HR departments focus on cutting costs and improving employee productivity.

The education industry has primarily three types of players — content, platform, and assessment providers — and each is going through a transition. The content publishers are bracing with the challenges of the print-to-digital transition, as well providing content for the open education resources. The learning platforms are trying to differentiate in the adaptivity, personalization, and analytics space. And assessment will continue to play a pivotal role in transforming the education industry as it transitions from multiple-choice tests toward more innovative question types.

The dynamics generated by the key trends and players suggest a need for a disruptive innovation in education. As budgets shrink and classroom sizes increase, it is imperative that we leverage advancements in technology to improve the productivity and efficiency of the education system. AI, in particular, can play an important role in improving the quality and affordability of education. We will see several applications of AI in education in 2017, such as:

  • AI for grading students’ written answers
  • Bots that answer students’ questions
  • Virtual personal assistants that tutor students
  • Virtual reality and computer vision for immersive, hands-on learning
  • Simulations and gamification with rich learning analytics

Take, for example, the grading (assessment) problem, which is at the core of education. As the quote goes, you cannot improve what you cannot measure. Cognitive psychology suggests that the best way to assess learning is to ask open-response (essay) questions and allow students to explain in their own words. However, due to the time and cost associated with grading open-response answers, it is used very infrequently, and instead we rely on the 100-year-old multiple choice test as the primary form of assessment.

an AI can be trained to analyze and grade a student’s answer reliably and can be as accurate as a human and at a cost that is orders of magnitude lower than that of human grading. ETS has successfully used AI as a replacement for one of the two humans for grading SAT and GRE essays.

Bots for education will also play an important role in scaling online learning, as when Georgia Tech professor Ashok Goel used AI as a teacher’s assistant that answered students’ questions successfully. We flip that model. Instead of a student asking a question, our AI asks a question, the student answers it in natural language, and the AI evaluates the answer and provides instant tutoring feedback. This is known as a formative assessment in the education field, as its purpose is to improve the student’s conceptual understanding of a topic.

For more information, go to VentureBeat.

New Approaches: Smart Content, Intelligent Tutoring

A review of examples of how AI is being applied in education, recently conducted by Tech Emergence, included a discussion of smart content and intelligent tutoring systems.

Smart content refers to the creation of digital guides to textbooks, to customizable digital learning interfaces, being introduced at all education levels. Content Technologies, Inc. is an AI development company specializing in automation of business processes and intelligent instruction design. The firm has created a suite of smart content services for secondary education. Cram101 for example, uses AI to help break down textbook content into a smart study guide that includes chapter summaries, true-false and multiple choice practice tests, and flashcards.

Netex Learning allows educators to design digital curriculum and content across devices, integrating video and audio with online instructor content, including assessments. A cloud platform designed for the workplace allows employers to design learning systems with apps, gamification and simulations. Workplace learning platforms are meant to help employees master additional skills and receive feedback.

Intelligent tutoring is offered by Carnegie Learning’s “Mika” software, which uses cognitive science and AI technologies to provide personalized tutoring and real-time feedback. It is primarily targeted to incoming college freshman who may need remedial courses.

The iTalk2Learn system16, engineering and tested by Carnegie Mellon University, is meant to help young student learn fractions. It offers a learner model that assesses the student’s math knowledge, cognitive needs and emotional state.

For more information, refer to techemergence.com.