Could online tutors and artificial intelligence be the future of teaching?

| Updated: Dec 26, 2016 18:57 IST

London [UK], Dec. 26(ANI):Nearly 4,000 British primary school children enrolled for weekly one on one maths sessions with Indian and Sri Lankan tutors. Third Space Learning, the company providing the lessons is targeting pupils struggling with maths - particularly from underprivileged backgrounds. The platform will become one of the first using artificial intelligence (AI) software to monitor, and ideally improve, teaching. The company with scientists at University College London (UCL), has analysed around thousands of hours of audio and written data from its tutorials, to identify what makes a good teacher and a successful lesson. Tom Hooper, the company's CEO, said to The Guardian: "We're looking to optimise lessons based on the knowledge we gain. We've recorded every lesson that we've ever done. By using the data, we've been trying to introduce AI to augment the teaching". Initially, 300 tutors will receive real-time, automated interventions from the teaching software when it detects that a lesson may be going off-course. Pupils have a 45-minute session with the same tutor each week, communicating through a headset and a shared whiteboard. The lessons are tailor-made to the individual, including visual rewards linked to the child's interests. In addition to the raw audio data, each lesson has various success metrics attached: how many problems completed, how useful the pupil found the session, how the tutor rated it. Using machine learning algorithms to sift through the dataset, the UCL team has started to look for patterns. Early analysis found that when tutors speak too quickly, the pupil is more likely to lose interest. Leaving sufficient time for the child to respond or to pose questions was found to be a factor in the lesson's success, according to Hooper. These observations are likely to form the basis of the initial prompts that the tutors will receive, probably in the form of messages flashing up on their screen. "We're going to be drip-feeding it in in relatively simple ways to start with," said Hooper. As the technology evolves, the interventions could become more sophisticated and the software might play a more active role in teaching, raising questions about the extent to which intelligent software could replace human teachers.(ANI)