Tuesday, 12 Jul 2022  |  Reading time:  12 mins  | Read online

Emerging technologies in education

Each week we focus on a different global topic, highlighting innovative content and insights from LGIU and our members around the world.  

Over the last decade, the digitalisation of education has already created a number of opportunities for students and educators alike, with developments such as free online tutoring programmes, improved lesson interactivity, remote learning, and programmes to improve access to quality education for children with special educational needs or disabilities.

More recently, emerging (new) technologies – think AI, learning analytics, virtual reality or robotics – have begun to take education to the next stage. Some developments are aimed at students, such as the gamification of learning/homework, personalised learning (e.g. intelligent tutoring systems), or 'fun' tech such as augmented or virtual reality improving engagement.

Others support teachers, such as through classroom analytics to track students’ progress and guide lesson plans, automatic assessment and marking, or even social robots who can take on a teaching assistant role (more on this later). Technology has also helped support the management of education systems at the system and organisational level, with study paths and career advice, early warning systems to identify potential dropouts, or to build relationships with external stakeholders.

Allowing children to explore technology outside of their home context can help equip them with increasingly valuable skills for how society might look in the future, but we must also be mindful of some of the current challenges: bias in current thinking translating into biased machines, how we can assist teachers through fast-paced role changes, ensuring that AI doesn’t eliminate learner agency or replace vital face-to-face interactions for social skills (not just academic ones) – or even plain-old concerns over too much screen time.

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This week's featured content

The use of Artificial Intelligence in learning – an overview of the projects

By Andrew Crompton, LGIU Associate

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused educators across the world to consider the use of new technologies and alternative ways of teaching and learning. This briefing draws on recent work from UNESCO to explore how artificial intelligence is shaping the future of learning. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) is now starting to impact everyday life, and we are becoming more aware of its significance. Recent developments in the increasing availability of ‘big data’, more powerful computers and hardware, and internet-based ‘information highways’ have all contributed to the quickening change of pace.

UNESCO suggest that the current state of AI development could be described as the “age of implementation” with significant and well-known developments changing and enhancing human life. Some of these developments include: automatic language translation; facial recognition software; personal assistants and chatbots; and data mining and forecasting (e.g. weather systems and business forecasting).

Historically, AI in education has been characterised in three ways. These are (i) student-facing tools, (ii) teacher-facing developments, and (iii) systems management applications. A fourth provides the following focal points for artificial intelligence:

  • education management and delivery;
  • learning and assessment;
  • empowering teachers and enhancing teaching;
  • lifelong learning.

So what are the next steps for AI in education, and where are they already happening?

LGIU Global Local Highlights

 

Artificial Intelligence and the future of learning – the policy implications

UNESCO policy guidance suggests a fourth industrial revolution may be underway with public services increasingly delivered online and through AI. This briefing considers the policy and ethical considerations of this in relation to education, including how humanity can be educated to live in this new future world. 
Read this LGIU policy briefing here.

The future of schooling post-Covid-19 and beyond

As global education systems recover from pandemic-related disruption, we have an opportunity to reflect on what has been learned and look towards the conditions for transforming the schooling system itself. This briefing looks at four international and three UK-based reports on the future of education.
Read this LGIU policy briefing here.

Innovation & Inspiration

Curated case studies and news from around the globe

Sweden: City of Helsingborg sees success with AI preschool assistant

In 2021, the City of Helsingborg rolled out an AI chatbot across 17 of its preschools. The LAlban assistant, installed across school cloakrooms, was designed to answer common questions from children across eleven languages. LAlban offers guidance across several levels, from daily needs to long-term learning, and provides games, lessons and rewards in sustainability and food waste reduction. Children are actively included in the design process for LAlban’s applications and updates. The assistant is also programmed to explain what an AI chatbot is, to provide accountability to children. Due to positive responses, LAlban is set to be rolled out to all 80 Helsingborg public preschools. 

UNICEF

India: Regional government deploys smart early warning system to tackle school dropouts

Facing a high school dropout rate in its region, the Government of Andhra Pradesh, south-east India, employed a machine learning application designed to predict such behaviour. The software extracted patterns from data covering, enrolment, gender, academic performance, socio-economic demographics, school infrastructure, and teachers’ experience and capabilities, eventually identifying more than 60 patterns for dropouts. The software used this to make predictions, which helped education officers guide interventions and investments. By 2019, more than 10,000 schools in the region were using the software as an early dropout warning system. 

OECD Digital Education Outlook 2021

Finland: Helsinki creates data-driven culture in schools to personalise learning

Over the past several years, the City of Helsinki has worked to develop a data-driven approach to educating its young citizens. This culture of data is aimed to provide education leaders, teachers and trainers with new tools to personalise learning for all students, while continually monitoring well-being and progress. The City’s Education Division employed measures such as personalised learning processes and materials – that can be automatically adapted to suit the level of individual learners – alongside automated feedback and analytics of student and teacher wellbeing, all using Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing program. 

Open Education Analytics

Singapore: Virtual reality used to help SEN students learn to safely cross roads

The APSN Chaoyang School in Singapore developed a creative technological solution to help SEN students learn how to cross the road. As taking the school’s students, a mix of children with mild intellectual disabilities and autism between seven and 12, to learn at busy road junctions isn’t feasible, the school developed a way for pupils to navigate such scenarios virtually. Children are given access to a “mixed reality” virtual technology room, which replicates scenarios, such as road crossings, for children to experience and learn in to prepare them with real-world skills. The mixed reality rooms combine tactile contact with digital interaction, with highly modifiable templates allowing teachers to change displays to class and situational requirements. 

Association for Persons with Special Needs

Policy & Resources

Report: 2020 EdTech Horizon Report
This report identifies key trends in the technologies and practices that are set to impact higher education in the future. In addition to covering emerging technologies such as AI or data analytics, the report also considers intersections with social, economic and political issues likely to affect institutions in the coming years. The report also contains a mixture of US and global essays by experts on the implications for the type of institution/country, to provide a range of perspectives. 

Case studies: Compendium on digital inclusion in education
This compendium from the EU’s Digital Skills & Jobs Platform includes 33 best practice examples across 8 European countries, focusing on how digital tools and practices in education can promote inclusion. The case studies span local, regional and national level policy.

Report: Artificial Intelligence and emerging technologies in schools
This APO report, commissioned by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training, examines the literature around artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality and emerging technologies in education. Alongside distilling messages from both the literature reviews and targeted national consultation with experts, the report also includes a selection of case studies written by teachers and quality online resources for teachers and other interested parties on the subject.

Interested in other LGIU Global content?

How Local Government Can Save The World: Jonathan Carr-West’s ALGA Keynote

LGIU’s CEO Jonathan Carr-West gives a keynote address at the 2022 ALGA conference on how only local government can rebuild trust in democracy and meet the public policy challenges of the 21st century – but we need a global learning network to do so

Read it here.

Bundle: Showing our civic pride

In this bundle, we share our recent LGIU content on Pride and local government and how councils around the world are taking part, from celebration, preparation, profound sadness and commiseration, and finally continuation of the work to promote equality in the places where we live.
Read our content here

Thanks for reading!

Next week we'll be taking a look at biodiversity to prep for our upcoming Global Local Executive Panel – you can find out more and get involved here.

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