June 13, 2023 The Future of EdTech: Partnering Human Knowledge With AI Discover valuable insights on the digital transformation of EdTech and the future of AI in education. Sebastian Ortiz-Chamorro VP of Engineering, Latin America For decades, organizations have used artificial intelligence extensively in personalized marketing, preventive machine maintenance, automated vision, fraud detection, and many other applications. However, it has been primarily used “under the hood.” That is to say; humans have had relatively little direct contact with this technology. And when we had direct contact with AI, the results were largely underwhelming until we experienced some of the most fantastic technology ever created — generative artificial intelligence (AI). A Source of Knowledge, A Source of Deception ChatGPT is something rather unique. It feels intelligent, gives plausible answers, and helps us learn new things. And right when we develop a certain level of trust, we are quickly deceived with wrong answers that, tragically, also sound plausible. It’s a potent and dangerous combination. Using generative AI makes us immediately and starkly aware that it may have an enormous impact on education, even if we don´t know whether this impact will be positive, negative, or both. How can we harness the power of AI to improve education while minimizing the risks? There is an objective need to modernize education using all available tools at our disposal. Teachers are overwhelmed, students are frustrated, and parents are rightly concerned about their children’s future. As a university professor, I see the potential of these modern AI tools in the classroom. I also see that my students already use them despite their drawbacks. The COVID-19 pandemic threw teachers, students, and parents into a forced, rushed, and uncontrolled use of technology, with disastrous consequences. Learning was negatively affected. Beyond that, students’ social development, mental health, and even basic healthy dietary habits had adverse effects. In all fairness, not all of these problems can be attributed to EdTech; but the consensus is that technology did not rise to the challenge. If we learned anything throughout this dark and secluded period is that “go fast and break things” does not work in education. What makes technology success elusive in education is that we are trying to weave technology into much deeper human waters than, say, getting in touch with your high-school friends to share photos. Social media and e-commerce had lower-hanging fruits to grasp, yet it still took us two decades to develop them. Despite impressive capabilities, even the most advanced AI cannot take the reins of education alone. The technology is simply not there yet. Teachers, parents, and communities at large will continue to play a central role in this field for a long time. In this context, we need to think of AI as a valuable team member engaging in the all-important human learning and development endeavor. The Digital Transformation of EdTech A bright future for AI in education will require a more human-conscious investment in technology initiatives. This future may be hard to see at a time when we are stuck between the awe inspired by AI’s capabilities and the fear of not understanding their impact. Education is in a crisis, yet we have the right tools to transform this crisis into an opportunity. At MentorMate, we base our approach on The Power of Three — blending strategic insights and thoughtful design with brilliant engineering in technical solutions that deliver digital transformation at scale. This approach is a call to step back and take some time to think systematically about the use of technology within its human context. It avoids the mad rush to build half-baked ideas that can negatively impact people and waste valuable resources. It considers business strategy, design strategy, and technology strategy as integral parts of digital transformation. Such a holistic approach is especially critical when dealing with powerful technologies like AI. In the case of education, business strategy means having a deep understanding of the inner workings of educational institutions, their business model, and how they deliver their value proposition. EdTech for K–12 looks very different from EdTech for a community college. Before rushing to write code and use machine learning algorithms, we must understand why we want to incorporate AI and where it will produce the best results for students. A design strategy involves a thorough knowledge of the institutional and cultural context where technology is intended to be used. In the case of AI, this is the phase where its power and shortcomings need to be thought out vis-a-vis the realities, needs, and capabilities of the users involved. The aim is to answer what we need to ensure we build the right thing. Finally, technology strategy uses the most advanced AI tools available and matches them with the specific problem we are trying to solve. In classic Agile fashion, it’s important to point out that this holistic power of three approach is not sequential but parallel. These are not three “stages” but rather three perspectives that have to be present and in constant dialogue with each other when developing and deploying new technology. A perfect example of making the right AI choice is MentorMate’s work with a Minnesota EdTech company in the context of higher education curriculum improvement. In this case, the chosen natural language processing (NLP) techniques were not generative AI. Instead, more task-specific NLP algorithms were the right option as they offered more efficient and accurate responses for this particular problem. Despite having good results, the outputs generated by these algorithms were under human supervision. The role of AI was not to act as a human replacement but to aid the curriculum improvement process. Final Thoughts Artificial intelligence is already being used responsibly and effectively in education, but we must still deal with today’s learning and development challenges. A holistic approach centered on humans who are interacting with powerful technology helps us deliver the benefits of AI-supported learning much faster while simultaneously avoiding unnecessary risks. We need to give more power to learning communities through the ability to use AI — and the power to control it. Tags Data & AnalyticsDigital TransformationData Design & Architecture Share Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share on Twitter 9 Advantages of the Public Cloud Uncover nine ways the public cloud can help your business reach a global audience. 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