SoKor expert urges PH to harness power of AI in educ amid pandemic

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A former top government official of South Korea said artificial intelligence (AI) can optimize learning in the Philippines, especially during the pandemic.

Dr. Ju-Ho Lee, South Korea’s former Minister of Education, Science, and Technology

Dr. Ju-Ho Lee, South Korea’s former Minister of Education, Science, and Technology, made this assetion during his presentation during the 6th Annual Public Policy Conference (APPC) webinar titled “Institutional Innovations and Reforms under the New Normal” organized by the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) recently.

Lee, the current chairperson and CEO of Education Commission Asia (ECA), said that “harnessing the power of AI in education is critical” especially now that many schools have shifted to online classes due to the coronavirus outbreak.  

“Education should incite fundamental change in what we learn and how we teach”, he stressed, adding that “online platforms should be developed through AI tools,” Lee said.

He said that education must shift “from mass standardization to mass personalization system” to cope with the demands of the challenging times.

“In this direction of change, ‘learning to take tests’ must be changed to ‘learning to learn’; ‘vertical learning’ (i.e., lectures) to ‘horizontal learning’ (i.e., projects and discussions among students); and ‘shallow learning’ to ‘deep learning’ (i.e., memorization should be developed to deep learning) to provide students more higher-order of skills,” Lee explained.

He said that these transformations could be achieved by adopting a ‘high touch high tech’ (HTHT) learning system, espoused by his company, ECA.

According to Lee, HTHT education aims to “nurture cognitive capacity, creativity, and socio-emotional skills and personality in all students through an AI-assisted adaptive learning technology”.

“This element of personalized learning through technology relieves teachers of their burden to provide content-driven knowledge through traditional lecture-style formats; it allows them to guide students through innovative and interactive models such as project-based learning, and simultaneously focus on strengthening the human connection element integral to learning and development,” he explained.

Lee noted that not only can AI identify the level of knowledge of students through AI-powered diagnostic tests, it can also “develop a personalized learning path for each student”.

The former education minister further elaborated that AI can play the important role of a tutor to each student for personalized education, which he claimed as the “optimal way of learning”.

“[Personalized training] was used to be provided only to a selected few through private education [and by hiring] costly private tutors. But due to technological changes, personalized learning can now be provided to everyone,” he pointed out.

Lee mentioned that HTHT education has yielded positive results in some schools abroad like Arizona State University (ASU) in the United States.

For instance, there was an increase in the completion rate for Algebra course in ASU while there was an improvement in test scores for Math and Hindi subjects in India through the help of Mindspark, an adaptive online tutoring program for teachers and students.

Meanwhile, Lee shared three strategies that South Korea has adopted to harness AI’s power in its educational system.

One is to open up to the private sector as it is more active in innovation, especially in AI. According to Lee, the government, the academe, and the private sector need to work together and nurture an ecosystem of education and innovation.

Second is to turn the crisis into an opportunity. Lee said that remote learning platforms have changed both students’ and teachers’ mindset in his country. He noted that these have pushed students to get high scores in examinations, while teachers have shown a high level of satisfaction and high responses in the use of these platforms.

The last one is to adopt fundamental change gradually. Lee said that this is more effective than incrementally implementing reforms.

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