Gamification in learning is yet another educational movement based on what students respond to best. The benefits of gamification in learning are that it motivates children to engage on a different level with the topic they’re studying, and increases their retention after study too. But crucially, there’s a big difference between gamification done right and gamification done wrong.
So, let’s take a look at examples of good and bad gamification, and learn some pointers to best employ it with your students!
Duolingo- gamified language learning
Duolingo, if you’ve never heard of it, provides free online courses for anybody wanting to learn a language. They have the most obvious and well known languages- English, Spanish, French- as well as more obscure options like Game of Thrones’ High Valyrian language, Hungarian and Vietnamese. There’s something for everybody to learn. So where does the gamification come in?
Well, Duolingo is a great example of gamification in learning, in action. Every aspect of the learning process is gamified: the user is constantly rewarded with trophies and achievements, and even gain in-game currency (called lingots) for things like levelling up and being challenged to use the app daily for a week. The currency can be used to customise your profile, and subtly indicating your language prowess at the same time!
Duolingo has enjoyed great success in recent years, as user numbers have grown. Its success is also mirrored in the fact that it’s widely used in public schools in developing countries like Costa Rica and Guatemala to help students learn English. In fact, Durolingo released a VLE-of-sorts for teachers, which allows them to track their students’ progress with the site.
Google News- gamification, but for what purpose?
Never one to be caught behind the curve, Google has tried to catch onto the gamification trend too. But we felt that their attempt was more for its own sake than for any real purpose. And in fact, it seemed to do the opposite of what it actually set out to do!
Google News is like a great big RSS feed complied by Google, from reliable sources worldwide. But not enough people (according to Google, at least) knew about the service, and fewer stayed around to use it repeatedly. So Google decided to gamify the experience, and began to offer badges as a reward for the number of articles, and the kind of articles, you read.
The hope was that this could give you bragging rights over your friends on Google Plus, because you can display the badges on your profile. But it didn’t catch on, and here’s the reason why: they didn’t represent any kind of achievement. Reading a news article is more of a way of passing the time and, obviously, keeping up with the news than a hobby or a challenge.
Duolingo’s example of gamification worked because learning a language is a genuine challenge. Increasing your vocabulary, learning the grammatical rules of a new language, and being able to pronounce sounds unused in your own language is difficult, where reading a news article just isn’t. Gamification in education has to be the same, or it falls at the first hurdle.
It’s ironic. For the last fifteen years or so, teachers have had to fight against a rising tide of mobile phone use in the classroom. And now, we have to undo those last fifteen years of demanding and pleading for students not to use their phones, to now telling them that phones are actually key to their educational development!
So what’s behind this change?
Mobile technology can boost achievement generally- if used correctly
Mobile learning in education is becoming more and more popular. And study after study is indicating that mobile apps built for education can boost attainment at school. How? By making learning fun. We never said that m-learning was inspired by a revolutionary idea!
For example, a study by the U.S. Department of Education found that children who used a PBS Kids vocabulary app improved their vocabulary by up to 31%. That was on the basis of the children wanting to use the app every day for two weeks, which isn’t an outlandish amount of screen time for modern kids!
So the parent buys a phone for their child. They also download some educational apps. Then they let the kids run free. Where do teachers fit in?
Unguided learning isn’t learning at all
It isn’t easy to separate the younger generation from their smartphone technology. Carvalho and Ferreira’s study, Mobile devices in school, in teaching / the learning process- the roadmap points out how mobile technology is so firmly embedded in the lives of young people today, that they practically expect it to be a part of their education, too. Hence why m-learning in education is turning into the next big thing.
Students looking up and referencing facts on their own is one of the many benefits that mobile technology has given to pedagogy. But how does the student know what to search for? And how does the student know what’s sound information, and what are sound analyses, and what aren’t? The importance of mobile learning only stretches as far as there are teachers to guide students. And that’s because unguided learning is simply wasted time.
Teachers inspire learning, technology teaches facts
Quick reference to factual information is one of the central benefits of mobile devices in education. Mobile learning in education is defined by what can easily be broken down into factual information- hence why technology is best used in subjects like maths, and not English literature. But m-learning isn’t confined to what computers can understand, but how we get technology to work for us.
Carvalho and Ferreira’s study accurately describes the many benefits of m-learning in education: mobile devices are easily usable, portable, versatile, adaptable and customizable. But most of all, they help students, teachers and parents to overcome the physical boundaries of the classroom and to learn anywhere, at any time.
You might then ask what teachers actually bring to the table. It’s all about motivation. Like we’ve already claimed, unguided learning is often wasted time- and what teachers do best is to inspire a positive attitude towards learning. Without that, students don’t want to learn. With that, and with m-learning, students want to learn, and can learn wherever they are.
The cinema industry has changed drastically in the last 10 years, as it has struggled with decreasing ticket sales. Like all entertainment formats, it will need to continue to adapt as it enters an uncertain future. However cinemas around the world are finding new ways to attract customers off their sofas, with Netflix and online pirating, and into their cinemas. Here are a few of the innovative ways they’re doing it:
- Virtual Reality
With Oculus Rift and other hyper-realistic virtual reality headsets now developed, cinemas are making use of the new technology to attract audiences. With promises of total immersion and a viewing experience unlike any other, it is easy to understand the attraction.
There is still a long way to go for virtual reality to become mainstream, with headsets costing hundreds of pounds and a severe lack of especially designed content. However, new ground is being made on both these fronts, for example Oscar-winning director of Birdman and The Revenant, Alejandro G. Iñárritu recently produced a VR project called “Carne y Arena” and exhibited it at the Cannes Film Festival.
- Dolby Cinema
There are now 72 advanced Dolby Cinema theaters in the United States, complete with laser projection and an advanced 360-degree ring of speakers wrapped around the audience. This offers audiences a viewing (and hearing!) experience beyond what is possible at home, hence attracting paying customers. The technology first attracted attention with the film Gravity. Imagine seeing that film on a huge 3D screen, within an immerse soundscape created by 30+ individually programmed speakers – it’s simply something unrivalled by home audio-visual set-ups.
- Food and Booze
As mentioned before, movie theatres are searching to create new and exciting experiences, more than just films, which will draw audiences from far and wide to their box office. Many cinemas now offer a perfect date night package, a film, food and wine!
“We’re competing with your home,” says Hamid Hashemi, CEO of Florida-based iPic Entertainment, and many more cinemas are following suit, offering food and boozy nights to seemlessly blend with the onscreen main attraction.
- Video Game Tournaments
Some theatres are even using their screens to host video game tournaments. “That’s the dream of every theater,” MediaMation CEO Daniel Jamele said. “It gives them an alternate source of income, which is what they need.”
That is just the kind of thought that will save many movie theatres from going into bankruptcy, by increasing their box office sales by finding multiple uses for theatres with giant screens
Of course anyone who has studied general relativity would know that the 4th dimension is actually time. Although by that definition all films are 4D, as they travel and change over time. But cinemas could never sell that, so 4D to them means moving seats and other senses.
Although it is still mostly reserved to theme parks, more and more 4D cinema experiences are popping up around the world. For example, South Korean company CJ 4Dplex Co has created 4DX, designed to make people feel as if they’re part of the action. Whilst a Torrance-based company called MediaMation makes its own competing version of 4DX, the motion-seat technology, called MX4D.
Technology is ever changing, at what feels like an accelerating rate. Film-making has always been closely tied to this, you only need to look at history: the invention of film at the close of the 19th century, the transition from silent films to “talkies” in the 1920s, CGI becoming more prominent in the 80s and 90s, and most recently digital colour grading and 3D technology.
With improving technology, new styles and emerging trends arise; here is a list of 5 new cinematic techniques defining this decade of filmmaking, along with some filmmaking tips to get the best results from them:
- Impossible camera angles:
A seemingly crazy camera pan or track is a fantastic way a director can show off visual flair – if done correctly. We can all remember sweeping through Hogwarts, in through a tiny window and into the Great Hall; of course this wasn’t actually filmed, but was made possible through greater computational power allowing film-makers to more seamlessly merge real footage with CGI.
A particular favourite of mine is from Contact, a 1997 Robert Zemeckis film, and pioneer of the subtle merging of CGI and real life, as exemplified by the clip below. We see young Eleanor Arroway rushing upstairs, along the corridor, and then open the mirrored bathroom cabinet, where the perspective flips and it is revealed that all before was through the mirror, as if in the mirror world – which of course would be impossible.
2. ‘Diegetic’ Footage
This is simply a shot from within the film, from a camera in the film world – from CCTV, security footage, webcams, and handheld, and often includes the recording info around. This likely became more prominent simply as cameras became more common in our lives, with the advent of digital and smart phones.
As a helpful filmmaking tip and technique, ‘diegetic’ footage is useful for creating immersion and a sense of the characters place within their world. However, if over-used or used incorrectly then it can make your work seem amateurish.
3. (Very) Long Takes
Extended takes have always existed, from the birth of cinema, and have always been a way for a director to show off visual finesse – if done correctly. For example, it can be used to create tension, as in the 1958 Orson Welles film Touch of Evil, which starts with a winding 3-minute long take, ending in a bomb detonating.
However now with better technology, filmmakers are able to film incredibly long takes. For example Birdman, which looks like one continuous take when it is actually many digitally merged together. Or Irreversible, which is 13 long takes, in backwards chronological order.
What is even more impressive is a real-time long take; at is, a long take done with no digital special effects or digital trickery. 2 films exist as such; Russian Ark, a singular 99 minute long take; and Victoria, an uninterrupted 138 minute take.
4. Camera Interaction
This is when the camera may get rain, or dirty or blood even on the lens – it is interacting with the scene. This is distinct from ‘diegetic’ footage in that the camera is not part of the film, Steven Spielberg doesn’t want the audience to think the camera is real in Saving Private Ryan just because it gets blood splatter on it. Instead it is a way of breaking the 4th wall, and either creating or breaking immersion, which is something filmmakers are increasingly wanting to do. Camera interaction is a very modern filmmaking technique, you wouldn’t have really seen it before the 1980s.
A common, often unnoticed, camera interaction is when the camera itself shakes during an intense scene. This happens all the time, particularly in action films, for example in most Paul Greengrass films, from Captain Phillips to the Bourne Trilogy.
5. Text On Screen
Words on screen are nothing new, silent films had interstitials. But with the invention of mobile and smartphones, and with how prevelant they’ve become in modern life, filmmakers must face the challenge of presenting them on screen. Would you rather show the phone, close-up, to show the text, or just put the text on screen? Directors are increasingly choosing the latter, as there is no need to disrupt the shot by cutting to a close-up, and you can capture the actor’s reaction as in real time.
This technique is also being increasingly used in television, for example in House of Cards and Sherlock.
All 5 of these cinematic techniques are not new to our era, however they will be what defines this decade of filmmaking, what cinephiles will look back on and call “Modern Filmmaking Techniques of the 20-teens”.
If you weren’t aware, Google have created their own virtual learning environment called Google Classroom. It’s a decent VLE, with a number of useful features. So far, so good!
But are we not as aware of the Google Classroom disadvantages as we should be? The New York Times recently published an article on precisely this topic, titled How Google took over the Classroom. It all sounds very dystopian, although to a teacher, it might sound like a lifesaver.
As per the reporter, a social science class in Chicago starts out with each student grabbing a Google-powered laptop, and opening Google Classroom; then they write their essays in Google Docs.  And that one school isn’t alone, because more than half of America’s primary and secondary school students use either Gmail or Google Docs. That’s an incredible thirty million children.
The benefit for students is ease of use; the benefit for teachers is to have everything under one umbrella, information shareable between devices. But what else do we get?
What do we get?
There’s no doubting that Google Classroom is a well put-together online learning platform. As a virtual learning environment goes, it has a number of excellent features. It’s accessible from any number of devices and is easy to use, has a nice clean interface, and speeds up marking and review, just like other VLEs.
Google Classroom’s virtual classroom software is also another of its advantages. If you’ve never encountered anything like that before virtual classroom software is a synchronous learning solution, or in English, a VLE that operates in real time. So, they commonly feature live chat that can be used by students and teachers, for instance. It’s designed to simulate the classroom environment, but entirely online.
Google Classroom reviews paint a mixed picture, as reviewers understand the excellent symmetry and ease of use of everything that Google offer, but others are worried about just how ubiquitous Google are becoming in class. But Google Classroom reviews shouldn’t be the only thing we judge their software on.
What’s really in it for Google?
One of the key Google Classroom disadvantages is… As an online learning platform, Google Classroom stands alone as the one with outstanding privacy concerns. Indeed, a number of Google Classroom reviews point out these privacy concerns; as do hard hitting articles on NPR  and Recode.  The Electronic Frontier Foundation lodged a complaint not too long ago with the US Federal Trade Commission, accusing Google of collecting personal data on students.  The accusation is that when students log in to Gmail with their account, they log into their YouTube and Blogger accounts at the same time. The EFF say that Google then gather that data and use it for advertisement purposes. 
The benefits are great, but the Google Classroom disadvantages are simply too serious for many schools and parents. Schools shouldn’t be a testing ground for future customers, or a place for gathering data on potential consumers. That’s why we recommend considering alternative education platforms before you go all out with Google.
First things first, you might be shaking your head at the phrase ‘digital skills revolution’. But we’re talking about an actual thing, not just buzzwords! Digital skills are core competencies in the use of computers, digital teaching aids and VLEs. What we want is to bring about a revolution in how these skills are learned and put to use in classrooms. Read on and you’ll see what we mean.
What are the problems we’re facing?
We won’t go in depth on all the issues facing the education sector right now, not in these few hundred words! There are clearly though a number of problems- although we would like to call them opportunities- that specifically relate to digital skills and classroom management that we think are more important than most teachers realise.
First, we’re facing a dire lack of digital skills for teachers. Present company is, of course, excepted; but in the sector more widely there are far too many teachers who struggle with projectors, let alone white boards, tablets and laptops.
At the same time, a virtual learning environment for schools has been put in place, but not understood by management, teachers or students. Rather, software for online teaching isn’t engaging students. In fact, software for online teaching is being used for little more than posting summaries of previous lessons, and that has to change.
What can we do to change?
The first thing we have to do is to grow our own skill sets. We have to become better acquainted with our VLEs and the physical tech we use every day. Improving digital skills for teachers through training can be as simple as reading the manual, spending some time practicing, or even receiving training, which these days can include the plethora of uploaded YouTube how-to films on just about any skill imaginable.
What next? We have to dramatically improve how digital skills for teachers are then implemented in the classroom. This takes a bit of creativity. Teachmag has some great ideas on classroom management that you can find here [http://www.teachmag.com/archives/3574], which cover things as basic as classroom organisation.
We also have to reach out to the students themselves, and let them know that VLEs are not an optional extra, but an essential tool in their learning. Software for online teaching is, let’s face it, not as entertaining as YouTube; but accessing it and using it should be as serious a task as physically going to class. The end goal should always be a virtual learning environment for schools that reaches out to students and improves their time in school.
What’s our end goal?
It’s our firm belief that online teaching platforms that aren’t used effectively; online teaching platforms that aren’t taken seriously by either students or teachers are more detriment than learning aid. But their benefits are so obvious [http://www.quickclass.net/virtual-learning-environment-for-teachers/]!
The time that educational software saves for teachers, and the improved results that it can help students achieve, aren’t just our end goal: they should be the end goal of every teacher.
Quickclass needed a new ~1 minute explainer of our platform and its many benefits to Teachers and Students to help Accelerate Learning. Through funky and nibble Production House MondoTV, we found George O’Regan, who produced the GEM you can now see on our public homepage. In his own words, George answered a few questions to reflect on his shoot and the lessons he learned. Its beautiful insight onto the trials and opportunities of young filmmakers – which YOUR students will do well to learn from! So, in George’s own words….
- How did you first have contact with Ben, the Producer from MondoTV?
My friend Lucas and I were waiting on a train platform with a pile of film kit; we were heading off to Brighton to shoot a scene for our Year 13 ‘Short Film’ unit. A chatty American guy wearing a denim jacket with an embroidered dragon design on the back came up to us and asked what we were shooting. We talked for a little while and found out about MondoTV, his Shoreditch-based production company. This was of course Ben.
We ended up getting on the same train as him and before he got off at Gatwick, probably to jet off to somewhere exotic, he offered us our first job with the company. Lucas shot two events for him, and I edited both videos…incredibly slowly. Perhaps during my interactions with Ben on these projects he realised that I could have more potential as a Director than as an Editor. And here we are.
- How much freedom did you have to create the treatment?
An unusual amount. In my previous experiences of online advertising I had been quite restricted by brand guidelines, executive decisions and even to already fully formed ideas. Beyond a couple of reference clips and suggestions from Ben (MondoTV Producer) and StJohn (Quickclass Founder) I had free reign over the treatment. Recently I had stopped suggesting risky ideas to brands as they would always say “no” and play it safe, there wasn’t even a point, but St John didn’t have any fear of being bored and reassured me that I could be as creative as I liked. The freedom was refreshing and undoubtedly led to a more stand-out video.
- Were there any difficulties in casting for the film?
Once the call was out on Casting Call Pro we had over 200 applications within 24 hours for the role of Andy. I tried to make the job sound as fun as possible (which it was) and left out any specific physical traits to attract a larger number of applicants in case anyone surprised us and completely changed how we saw Andy. In the end we picked the very expressive Teifi who was the perfect fit for Andy and looked just as we’d imagined. All in all, a very stress free casting process.
- How many shots did you have for the film? Was this typical for a 1 day shoot?
40 shots, 4 hours, 10 shots per hour. Sounds doable right? However, we needed to set up and pack down in that time, which left us with about 3 hours of actual shooting. When you add that to the fact that we were shooting with 8 extras, 4 crew and 1 actor as well as a dolly and crane in a tiny meeting room on one of the hottest days of the year, we weren’t left with many reasons to relax. Long story short, we didn’t finish on time, but thanks to some fantastic schmoozing from the production manager, Cisco, we secured an extra hour in the room, within budget, and wrapped with a happy cast and crew.
- Any unexpected difficulties on the day? Any problems you were unable to overcome?
Because we had so little time on location, everything was meticulously planned. It did take a little longer than expected, hence the extra hour of shooting, but it did go very smoothly.
- How long did the edit take? Anything you found was missing?
The edit only took about a week on and off. Again, because we had planned well, we weren’t missing anything in the edit. However, we did re-shoot a few bits that could have been improved, such as Andy’s computer – we made it a lot more messy.
- How was directing the Voice Over? Where there any unforeseen difficulties there?
StJohn’s is the voice that you hear in the film. However, as I live in London and StJohn in Amsterdam we had a considerable barrier to cross.StJohn sourced a good microphone from a friend and we set up a Skype call. After a couple of tests where I listened back to the audio we decided to jump in and record the voice over. It took a couple of hours to record a take of each section that we, or I, was happy with. Unfortunately, my experimental method of recording with the microphone in a cardboard box sounded awful when mixed in with the properly recorded sound effects and music. This meant that we had to re-record everything, stood in a copying cupboard, when StJohn came to London the following week and the day before it was ‘premiered’ at the BFI Media Conference.
- Any other lessons you’d like to share from making this film?
Never record a voice over from inside a cardboard box. Never.
Summer, right? Long bright evenings, frisbee in the park, barbecues with friends….
Except… except, we know the British summer often has different ideas about what it’s supposed to be. Our North Atlantic maritime climate means we’re just as likely to be running for shelter or huddling under an umbrella!
Still, for the cinephiles among us this isn’t necessarily ever a bad thing, as we’ll trade a soggy park for a comfy cinema seat any day. As luck would have it, there’s a rich offering of new releases this summer to keep us entertained (and dry!)
Here’s the Top 10 we’re most excited about this ‘summer’.
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 – Marvel’s surprise hit from 2014 has spawned a laugh-out-loud hilarious and action-packed sequel which simultaneously manages to explore many deeper aspects of family rifts.
- Snatched – Allowing us not only to sneer at the naivety of the hapless American tourist totally unprepared for a South American vacation (let alone kidnapping), but first outing with 70’s screen idol Goldie Hawn, practically this century!
- Wonder Woman – Not Marvel, but DC this time comes up trumps with this surprisingly refreshing and female-friendly superhero movie which actually shows some hope for the DC comic universe being constructed to compete with Marvel’s string of hits. After the horrendous Batman vs Superman, this could be exactly what they, and we the audience hoped for!
- The Big Sick – Combining traditional family interracial tensions with love, heartache and serious illness. This drama is funny and heart wrenching at the same time. Fresh and worth checking out.
- Lady MacBeth – Katherine, played stunningly by Florence Pugh is trapped in a cold marriage. Rebellion and lust lead to murder and tragedy in one of the brightest slow burns of the summer.
- Atomic Blonde – Another powerful female leading character, also adopted from a comic book, but trading a magic lasso for knee-high boots and secret-agent ass-kicking. Charlize Theron stars as a British spy Lorraine Broughton whose love-interest is a beautiful French counterpart – how refreshing!
- A Ghost Story – One of the summer’s most provocative, thoughtful and SLOW films involves Casey Affleck with a sheet over his head as his character’s ghost haunts the house he once inhabited in life, as his partner moves out and moves on.
- Maudie – Ethan Hawke (we know, we know) puts in a promising performance as a miner in 1930’s Nova Scotia with Sally Hawkins as the arthritic housekeeper who hones her skills as an artists and becomes accepted and celebrated by the local community.
- Okja – Ever fallen in love with a pig? How about a genetically modified giant pig? This unclassifiable film from South Korean Bong Joon-ho is a delight through and through.
- Baby Driver – We’ve left the best (in our eyes) to last here. Edgar Wright takes a well-worn genre of the bank heist gang and turns it on its head with the downright coolest film of the summer, no competition. Just see it.
The film industry is the fastest growing in the UK, now worth £4.3bn to the economy and employing 66k people – approximately the population of Boston (Lincolnshire). This suggests a bright British film industry future, surely? Yet the industry is now uniting to ensure a future for the sector, by using £20m of BFI lottery funding to train a new generation of creative talent, and a new future of UK filmmaking.
This comes after a recent report claimed that 10,000 new workers are needed over the next 5 years. According to Future Film Skills, there are key skill gaps in the sector – such as art and production departments, camera, costume, hair and make-up, post-production, VFX, and even construction and electrical – all require funding for training to ensure a British film industry future.
This is why a new 10-point plan has been devised to tackle these gaps, which will be addressed over the next 5 years, supported by £20m BFI lottery funding.
This industry-led initiative is chaired by famous producer of the Bond films, Barbara Broccoli OBE, who had this to say: “We live in a diverse society and it is vital both culturally and commercially that our industry reflects this in front of and behind the camera. With industry, education and government uniting behind this new Film Skills Strategy and 10 Point Action Plan we know we will be able to increase the number of people working in film and ensure we have a representative workforce.”
Broccoli mentions representation as a key aim due to the new report also showing that the film workforce is comprised of only 12% from poorer backgrounds; 5% with a disability; and black, Asian and minority ethnic groups representing just 3% of the workforce. Whilst women, who make up 40%, earn on average £3,000 less than male counterparts – how can we have a bright future of filmmaking (lest a bright British film industry future) with these statistics?
The 10 Point Action Plan
- A trusted and reliable careers information service
A single, trusted online destination for anybody seeking information to start or progress a career in the industry. Offering links, networks and information for training and jobs in film throughout the UK, building on and linking to sites such as Into Film, HIIVE and BAFTA Guru.
- An accreditation system to guarantee employer confidence
Developed by the industry for the industry, in partnership with higher education, to win the confidence of parents, learners and employers, this will build on the achievements of existing work and will involve industry and employers in setting up the scheme.
- A suite of new Apprenticeship Standards
Complete and deliver a new Apprenticeship Standard, which will be applied to courses for a range of job roles throughout the industry including production, distribution and exhibition.
- A Skills Forecasting Service
A responsive skills forecasting and planning service to respond to industry needs, and ensuring the regular supply of data across the sector on future skills opportunities.
- Embed the BFI Film Academy into the skills pipeline
Develop the BFI Film Academy to work closely with industry, placing set-ready alumni as trainees on film productions across the UK.
- A mentoring service to break down barriers for new entrants and returnees
A new personal mentoring programme that offers bespoke support for individuals wanting to enter or progress in the film industry, and those returning after a career break. Including mentoring, pastoral care, coaching and opportunities to network, and awareness of specific job opportunities.
- World-class Centres of Excellence for screen-related craft and technical skills
Working with higher education and the new Institute of Technology to create a small number of world class Centres of Excellence for screen-related craft and technical skills.
- A new bursary programme to ensure wide participation
A new bursary programme designed to support individuals taking their first steps, and removing some of the practical obstacles to those currently under-represented in the industry.
- Professional development courses to maintain world-class skills
A new range of professional development courses, aligned with the latest technology and business skills will ensure our workforce maintains world-class skills.
- Mobilise the industry
Encourage the industry to support the future workforce through a number of schemes and campaigns including creating a database to match individuals with local needs, and which recognises enlightened employers who encourage skills transfer.
Artificial Intelligence in education? No, it’s not science fiction, it’s real and it’s here. Love it or loathe it, the benefits of artificial intelligence in education are hard to deny. Here’s a rundown on exactly what those benefits are, and what the potential drawbacks might be too.
IBM’s Watson platform is a great example of artificial intelligence in education. Essentially, it’s a chatbot, but one with far more oomph behind it than you tend to find in the ones online! It was originally developed, of all things, to win the quiz show Jeopardy over in the U.S. It did just that back in 2011, beating two former winners and winning a million dollars- although what it did with the prize, we aren’t sure. Probably put it aside for its Orbital Destruction Laser project.
One of the many uses that Watson has been put to over the years since is as a teacher’s assistant. Watson started work at American university Georgia Tech last year, answering questions posed in a students’ forum. The professor who ‘hired’ Watson, Ashok Goel, initially didn’t tell any of the students that their questions were being answered by artificial intelligence… And nobody noticed.
Using the pseudonym ‘Jill’, Watson answered questions where it had a 97% (or greater) certainty of the correct answer. Over the course of a normal semester, Goel and his teaching staff alone receive over 10,000 questions, and Watson managed to free up an enormous amount of time for them all. It sounds like the stuff of dreams- what is this ‘free time’?
The Bad… and the Ugly
As it stands, our AI is very impressive. It’s light years ahead of where we were just a decade or two ago. But that’s the nature of progress: there’s always more to discover, more to understand and more ‘Eureka!’ moments. We still have a long way to go before we realise the potential of AI, both generally and in the classroom.
Ashok Goel’s Watson experiment was an amazing success, freeing up time for teachers and assistants; but it also proved the one major shortcoming of artificial intelligence in education right now. Online tools are one thing, but when are we going to be ready to make that leap into the real world?
The truth is that the biggest problem, and perhaps the last thing that we’ll be able to address, is the fact that AI lacks a human touch. We wouldn’t currently be able to achieve the benefits of artificial intelligence in education within a classroom setting: it’s just too obvious that we aren’t dealing with humans. And as we’ve reported on before, a classroom lacking this human touch just doesn’t work.
The best solution is the virtual learning environment: the best combination of human and AI. With a VLE, you can enjoy the ease of organisation that AI brings- especially if, in the future, programs like IBM’s Watson can be incorporated into them- along with the human touch without which learning in the classroom just can’t happen at all.