AI can help my kids, and yours, learn smarter

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld almost got it right when he famously said “a 2-year-old is kind of like having a blender, but you don’t have a top for it.” I happen to know it’s not just the top that’s missing but the off button as well. Seinfeld I too have three kids. Unlike Jerry only two of them have natural intelligence. The twins, the ones with the natural intelligence, turned one this year. My third sibling turns two soon, and is full of another kind of intelligence…the artificial one. For, I am the CEO of a startup that’s using AI to shake up the profit potential of the retail sector. Running Hivery is every bit as exciting as watching the twins grow.

In the office I get excited about our products and about the potential of AI. Every day we are thinking about how the world is going to change with the advancement of this amazing technology. At home, I see the twins embarking on an exciting journey of their own, and likewise, I find myself wondering how their childhood will be different to mine. Of course, one of the many areas my mind wonders to is education. The early years of personalized teaching at the loving hands of mum and dad are going to give way to the institutionalized approach of a school very soon, where learning is generalized across a class room of 25-30 students and where feedback mechanisms to teachers on their delivery is either non-existent or inadequate.

It is here that my personal and professional worlds converge. I wonder if there is a better way for us to educate our children. If indeed it is time to relook and eradicate some inherent flaws in our education system? Take the classroom delivery model for example. One teacher leads a bunch of close to 30 students on a voyage of discovery every single day. The teacher has to get through the lesson plan, engage the attention of a bunch of hyper- active kids and do the sundry other things that is the lot of every harried school teacher.

I wonder if there is a better way to educate our kids and I’m sure AI today is capable of delivering a level of education that would enhance the skills of every kid in every school around the world. Let’s examine the three of the fundamental issues facing educators in schools:

Cookie Cutter Approach: Given the size of the classrooms, it is virtually impossible for a teacher to keep track of every student’s individual progress. The onus is on the kid to keep up or pick up the pace later on. We know that every child learns at his/her own pace. An AI assistant residing in the child’s tablet will be able to keep track of individual progress and deliver supplemental learning to make up for what the child is missing in class. It can also alert the teacher, if the child is unable to cope. There’s more to personalized learning than simply providing inputs…the quality of inputs also changes as per the student. So if cricket is your passion, your personal assistant will use cricketing examples for math.

Providing Feedback: Kids are not good at providing feedback, especially the younger lot. This means it is virtually impossible for a teacher to come to know if a particular concept or lesson is too hard for the students to grasp. However, with an AI-powered backbone it is possible to quickly figure this out and give teachers the necessary feedback. This gives them the opportunity to modify the lesson plan to make it more palatable for students. Third Space Learning, an online math tutoring platform is already working on a system that will provide its tutors will real time information that will help them become better at their jobs. The same system can be adapted to schools as well.

Automating mundane tasks: Much of a teacher’s time goes in mundane activity like grading. A lot of this can be automated, thus freeing the teacher to do what they do best. Develop quality lesson plans that will engage their young students.

AI is changing the world as we know it. I know because I am both a beneficiary of the change as well as an agent creating the change. However, I would love to see the progress that AI has made in other fields percolate to the education sector as well. The next generation deserves the best we can give them.