How Artificial Intelligence will transform learning

August 3, 2017

We live in a rapidly changing world. Data volumes explode, 90% of all data in the world is created in the last two years. Also, automation will lead to a loss of 5 million jobs in 15 major developed and emerging economies. New technologies will require new knowledge and skills. Due to the disruptiveness of new technologies, employees must learn continuously and at an increasing pace. What innovations in Artificial Intelligence do we need to acquire these skills to succeed?


Artificial intelligence (AI) and smart machines will become integral to virtually every domain in our lives. We speak about artificial intelligence when computers perform tasks that normally need human intelligence. Examples of these are search engines, chatbots and personalized learning recommendations based on data analytics. AI could double annual economic growth rates by 2035, states research from Accenture. On the other hand, artificial intelligence will displace humans in some tasks and knowledge about today’s machines becomes obsolete. In this article, we explore the way AI transforms learning. First, we look at how AI helps us to make sense out of information. Second, we look at the opportunities that Artificial Intelligence offers to improve our ways of learning.

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Which skills do we need?


We never had so much information about the world we live in as today. But, there is so much information, that we need skills to filter the knowledge we need. The fact that we can now convert everything into data, results in an increasing focus on manipulating the data to the desired outcomes. As is described in the report on Future Work Skills 2020 (Institute for the Future), working with data becomes very important. For example, skills as cognitive load management and computational thinking are essential to analyze, filter and manipulate data.


We need to have computational thinking skills to translate amounts of data into abstract concepts and to make data-based decisions. With the increased amount of data, it becomes important to filter the right information (cognitive load management). Artificial Intelligence can help us to filter information, but we need to understand how to apply a variety of tools and techniques to effectively filter and focus on what is important.


Wouter-Jan Kleinlugtenbelt, Global Head of Academy at AkzoNobel and jury member at the Accenture Innovation Awards, acknowledges the importance of learning new skills: “You can find information everywhere. It becomes more important to know how to learn, accumulate and apply knowledge.”


How can we use AI to improve our skills to succeed?


The majority of businesses believes that investing in skills is the key to manage the disruptions that AI will cause (source: Future of Jobs Report). So, how can we reskill the workforce effectively? By bringing together the vast amounts of data about individual learning, social contexts and personal interest, it is possible to offer individualized learning to develop skills.


Data highlights specific skill gaps employees experience. If innovations enable you to see which skills an employee is missing, you can start the conversation that leads to change and encourage employees to take responsibility over their own progress. If people can see their own progress they can set goals and reflect on themselves. This helps them to acquire the skills they need to succeed.


A Dutch innovation that is using data for personalized learning for employees is the TalentBoostAcademy. After assessments to map your competences, you get a fit-for-the-job-score and a personal plan to develop your competences. Marcel Smoorenburg, director of TalentBoostAcademy, says they use artificial intelligence to measure talent: “By looking at motivation, personality and learning data we can see if one is talented for a competence. Artificial Intelligence makes it possible to offer individualized training and tracking your development.”


Effective learning by virtual mentors


Another promising innovation is the so-called virtual mentor, that can track the process of the learner by using AI techniques. These Intelligent Tutor Systems track the ‘mental steps’ of the learner during problem-solving tasks to diagnose misconceptions and estimate the learner’s understanding of the domain (source: Forbes). These systems can give also guidance, feedback and explanations and can promote productive learning behaviors. They can as well prescribe the most appropriate trainings for the learner. As Carol Redfield and Gisele Larose state in Educase Review, intelligent tutor systems provide a less expensive solution for tutoring and provide personal learning, so face-to-face mentoring can be more efficient.


Artificial Intelligence will reinforce our learning capabilities


In summary; to benefit from artificial intelligence, we should focus on skills that make us unique as a human. On the other hand, artificial intelligence will reinforce our learning capabilities and help us to succeed. It will enable us to better track the learning progress by the analysis of interaction data, intelligence tutor systems and data-based learning platforms. Artificial Intelligence could be the next step in the evolution of humanity.


Do you know a startup that improves people’s skills to succeed? Connect them with thought leaders by participating in the Accenture Innovation Awards 2017.


Authors: Maud van Dijck & Stan van Kesteren


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