Machine Learning

Empowering the next revolution in education.

GUEST COLUMN | by Raúl Garreta

CREDIT MonkeyLearnFor the last couple of years, massive open online courses (MOOCs) have been revolutionizing the education landscape and the way people learn. Platforms like Coursera, Udacity, edX and Khan Academy started the democratization of education, enabling any person to study on demand by offering quality courses for free, challenging the current education ecosystem.

What if education platforms could learn from their students?

Nowadays, it doesn’t matter if you are from California, Uruguay or Southeast Asia. Nor does your background, connections or if you have the means to afford an Ivy League education. Thanks to MOOCs and other education platforms, anyone can specialize in the field they are interested in. For the first time in history, people that are deeply interested in learning have no obstacles and no excuses.

What’s the next big step for EdTech platforms?

MOOCs have been great for opening education to anyone and arguably the biggest innovation in education in the last century. But what’s next for education?

What if education platforms could learn from their students? Imagine a course that could adjust, adapt and change in real-time based on a student interests and learning curve, and if every course, exercise and lesson could be personalized for optimizing a student learning experience.

Artificial Intelligence for education

Machine Learning – algorithms that allow computers to automatically learn to perform a task from data, and specifically Text Mining – algorithms that allow computers to process and understand information in text – can help entrepreneurs, startups and organizations to drive an Artificial Intelligence (AI) revolution in education.

Text mining gives computers the ability to automatically understand and extract relevant information from text; it doesn’t matter if it’s a tweet, a review, a book or any piece of text content. One common application of text mining is understanding the ‘sentiment’ of a given text and to automatically detect if, for example, a review is talking ‘positively’ or ‘negatively’ about something.

Another common application is to automatically identify the language of a text, used for example by Google Translate. But these are just a few examples; when people talk about text mining, there is a lot more going on. From spam detection, topic detection, to automatic summarization, entity extraction and content personalization, there are thousands of applications and opportunities.

Machine learning and text mining technologies could make MOOCs and other education technology platforms smarter and extremely personalized. These technologies have the potential to change the way people consume education. However, there is a catch: These technologies have historically been very complex to develop and integrate, requiring the help of artificial intelligence technology experts that most small- to medium-sized organizations do not have the resources to hire.

The need for these types of technologies is now being recognized. Solutions can offer developers in the education field – even those without machine learning knowledge or experience – to easily incorporate and use text-mining technologies within their education platforms.

With simple, customizable and affordable text mining technologies available, there is a great opportunity for developers and startups to use them to create the next wave of edtech platforms and applications. For example, developers of edtech apps can better organize and index frequently asked questions, and automatically suggest the best possible answers and improve a student’s knowledge.

This type of automation can classify every piece of text document according to its topic, language, and it can automatically summarize or extract relevant concepts. Other capabilities that are possible include the ability to classify and profile students by their level and learning speed, so that they can be matched with which courses and educational material is best suited to their abilities. This can also be used to better recommend courses, notes, papers, tutorials, videos, books and educational material. This, in turn, can boost student learning and be used to improve the student’s experience.

With so many new pieces and sources of information being created every minute, it is particularly important to have tools to address the “information overload” problem. Students should benefit from all of the information that is available, instead of being overwhelmed by the massive amount of content available at their fingertips today.

By having customizable algorithms that can understand text and operate accordingly, the possibilities are endless.

Raúl Garreta is the CTO and Co- Founder of MonkeyLearn, an affordable artificial intelligence technology platform that enables any developer, startup, or small and medium-sized enterprise to easily create and incorporate text mining capabilities into their own platforms, applications and websites.

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