Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) model that is capable of predicting the amount students are learning in educational games. The model relies on multi-task learning, an AI training concept where one model performs multiple tasks. The system can help improve instruction and learning outcomes.
Jonathan Rowe is the co-author of the paper detailing the work and a research scientist in North Carolina State University’s Center for Educational Informatics (CEI).
“In our case, we wanted the model to be able to predict whether a student would answer each question on a test correctly, based on the student’s behavior while playing an educational game called Crystal Island,” says Rowe.
“The standard approach for solving this problem looks only at overall test score, viewing the test as one task,” he continues. “In the context of our multi-task learning framework, the model has 17 tasks — because the test has 17 questions.”
The researchers used gameplay and testing data from 181 students. The AI analyzed the gameplay of each student and how they answered Question 1 on the test. The AI learned the common behaviors of the students who answered Question 1 correctly, and it then learned the behaviors of those who answered it incorrectly. With this data, the AI was able to determine how a new student would answer Question 1.
The function is performed at the same time for every question. While the gameplay that is reviewed for a student is the same, the AI studies the behavior in the context of Question 2, Question 3, etc.
The multi-task approach was successful and made a difference. The multi-task model was around 10 percent more accurate than the other models that used conventional AI training methods.
Michael Geden is the first author of the paper and a post-doctoral researcher at NC State.
“We envision this type of model being used in a couple of ways that can benefit students,” he says. “It could be used to notify teachers when a student’s gameplay suggests the student may need additional instruction. It could also be used to facilitate adaptive gameplay features in the game itself. For example, altering a storyline in order to revisit the concepts that a student is struggling with.
“Psychology has long recognized that different questions have different values,” Geden continues. “Our work here takes an interdisciplinary approach that marries this aspect of psychology with deep learning and machine learning approaches to AI.”
Andrew Emerson is the co-author of the paper and a Ph.D. student at NC State.
“This also opens the door to incorporating more complex modeling techniques into educational software — particularly educational software that adapts to the needs of the student,” Emerson says.
The paper is titled “Predictive Student Modeling in Educational Games with Multi-Task Learning,” and it will be presented at the 34th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence that is set to take place between Feb. 7-12 in New York, N.Y. The co-authors of the paper were James Lester, Distinguished University Professor of Computer Science and director of CEI at NC State, as well as Roger Azevedo of the University of Central Florida.
The work was supported by the National Science Foundation and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
New AI Curriculum Designed for Middle School Students
A new curriculum has been designed by MIT researchers and collaborators to teach middle school students about artificial intelligence (AI). It aims to bring awareness of the technology to the sector of the population which is growing about surrounded by AI.
The open-source educational material was piloted at Massachusetts STEM week in the fall of 2019. It covers aspects of the technology such as how AI systems are designed, ways they can be used to influence the public, and their role within the future job market.
Back in October during Mass STEM Week, many middle schools within the commonwealth had a change in curriculum. There was an immersive week of hands-on learning, and it was led by a team consisting of Cynthia Breazeal, associate professor of media arts and sciences at MIT; Randi Williams ‘18, graduate research assistant in the Personal Robots Group at the MIT Media Lab; and i2 Learning, a nonprofit organization.
“Preparing students for the future means having them engage in technology through hands-on activities. We provide students with tools and conceptual frameworks where we want them to engage with our materials as conscientious designers of AI-enabled technologies,” Breazeal says. “As they think through designing a solution to address a problem in their community, we get them to think critically about the ethical implications of the technology.”
The idea to bring awareness of the technology to young students began three years ago with the Personal Robots Group. They started a program meant to teach AI concepts to preschoolers, and it then spread to other learning experiences and more children. Eventually, the group developed a curriculum for middle school students. An AI curriculum was piloted in Somerville, Massachusetts last Spring.
“We want to make a curriculum in which middle-schoolers can build and use AI — and, more importantly, we want them to take into account the societal impact of any technology,” says Williams.
The curriculum is called How to Train Your Robot, and it was first piloted during an i2 summer camp in Boston. It was then presented to teachers by students during Mass STEM Week, and some of the teachers took part in two days of professional development training. The training was aimed at preparing the teachers to give more than 20 class hours of AI content to students. The curriculum was used within three schools across six classrooms.
Blakeley Hoffman Payne, a graduate research assistant in the Personal Robots Group, was responsible for some of the work in the AI curriculum. Payne’s research focuses on the ethics of artificial intelligence and how to teach children to design, use, and think about AI. Students took part in discussions and creative activities, such as designing robot companions and deploying machine-learning to solve problems. Students then shared their inventions with their communities.
“AI is an area that is becoming increasingly important in people’s lives,” says Ethan Berman, founder of i2 Learning and MIT parent. “This curriculum is very relevant to both students and teachers. Beyond just being a class on technology, it focuses on what it means to be a global citizen.”
One of the projects involved students building a “library robot” that was designed to locate and retrieve books for people with mobility challenges. Students had to take things into account such as how the technology would affect the job of a librarian and how it impacts the work.
The curriculum could be expanded to more classrooms and schools, and other disciplines could be added. Some other possible disciplines include social studies, math, science, art, and music, and the ways in which these can be implemented into the AI projects will be explored.
“We hope students walk away with a different understanding of AI and how it works in the world,” says Williams, “and that they feel empowered to play an important role in shaping the technology.”
Finland Releases Crash Course in Artificial Intelligence
Finland has released a crash course in artificial intelligence (AI) to all European Union citizens. The release came as a sort of Christmas gift, and the course will be free-of-charge. The six-week program will be available for anyone to take, and the course was translated into every EU language. The course is not restricted by location, so individuals outside of the EU can take it as well. At the end of the year, Finland will relinquish the EU’s rotating presidency.
The course is popular in Finland, and more than 1 percent of the 5.5 million citizens of the nation signed up. The course is called Elements of AI, and it provides a way for individuals to learn the basics of artificial intelligence (AI). With the growing influence of AI technology in our society, it is important for people to be prepared and have a basic understanding.
Also working on the project is the University of Helsinki, which is Finland’s largest and oldest academic institution. They are joined by the Finland-based tech consultancy Reaktor.
The course is a $2 million project and a “civics course in AI,” according to Teemu Roos, a University of Helsinki associate professor in the department of computer science. He said that it is meant to help EU citizens become accustomed to the changing of the economy and increasing digitalization.
WIthin the course, elementary AI concepts are covered. It does not cover harder concepts such as coding.
“We have enormous potential in Europe but what we lack is investments into AI,” Roos said. That comes at a time when other nations such as China are pouring money into AI technology.
The project is financed by the Finnish Ministry for Economic Affairs and Employment. According to officials, the course is meant for all EU citizens, no matter their age, education or profession.
Finland launched “The Elements of AI” back in 2018, and it has been extremely successful. It is the most popular course ever offered by the University of Helsinki. The university dates back to 1640, and the course has had over 220,000 students from more than 110 countries, according to Roos.
A quarter of the students who have enrolled are aged 45 and older, and about 40% are women. In what is often a male-dominated industry, the share of women among the Finnish participants is about 60%.
The course consists of several modules, and it lasts around 6 weeks full time. If it is taken at a slower pace, it will last about six months. The current languages are Finnish, English, Swedish and Estonian, and the university is set to translate it to the remaining 20 of the EU’s official languages. That should be completed within the next two years.
Megan Schaible is the COO of Reaktor Education, and she spoke about the collaboration between the company and the university. According to her, they are working together “to prove that AI should not be left in the hands of a few elite coders.”
Whoever passes the course will receive an official University of Helsinki diploma, and many EU universities could give credits for the course. If that is the case, students could include it in their curriculum.
Finland has become an important nation in the tech industry. Back in September, Google created the free-of-charge Digital Garage training hub in the capital. Its purpose is to help individuals find jobs, as well as entrepreneurs and children to increase their digital skills.
A New Report Claims Artificial Intelligence Skills Will Be Most In-Demand
Udemy, the largest online learning source, just published its Udemy for Business 2020 Workplace Learning Trends Report: The Skills of the Future (48 pp., PDF, opt-in). As Forbes noticed, the report claims that it is now key “to prepare workforces for the future of work in an AI-enabled world.” The report states that “In the world of finance, investment funds managed by AI and computers account for 35% of America’s stock market today,” citing a recent article in The Economist, The rise of the financial machines.
For their part, in the report, Udemy notes that AI is reshaping the world of work. The organization notes that 65% of the leaders cited that AI and robotics are an important or very important issue in human capital. Still, only 26% of the organizations Udemy surveyed are ready or very ready to dress the impact of these new technologies.
Udemy notes five key trends in 2020:
Trend 1 – AI will go mainstream in 2020
Trend 2 – 2020 is about realizing the full potential of humans and machines
Trend 3 – Learning & development is starting to tackle reskilling the workforce
Trend 4 – Organizations are building a data-driven culture
Trend 5 – Countries across the world are upskilling in highly coveted tech skills
Detailing their predictions concerning specifically AI and robotics, the Udemy report also notes that TensorFlow, an end-to-end open-source platform for machine learning “is the most popular tech skill of the last three years, exponentially increasing between 2016 and 2019.”
Its other two key projections according to Forbes are Udemy’s view that there will be a “robust demand for AI and data science skills, in addition to web development frameworks, cloud computing, and IT certifications, including AWS, CompTIA & Docker.” Also, SAP expertise (knowledge and qualifications of the enterprise software to manage business operations and customer relations) “is projected to be the fastest-growing process-related skill set in 2020.”
In more detailed projections, it is said that “TensorFlow, OpenCV, and neural networks are the foundational skills many data scientists are pursuing and perfecting today to advance their AI-based career strategies. “ All these skills are a basis for understanding and developing artificial intelligence apps and platforms.
Talking about TensorFlow, Forbes notes that it is “a free and open-source software library for dataflow and differentiable programming across a range of tasks. It is a symbolic math library and is also used for machine learning applications such as neural networks. “
The other closely connected category in which Udemy found strong interest is Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Business Process Management (BPM). As explained, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) refers to the use of process automation tools to quickly replicate how human beings perform routine daily office work using popular productivity apps including Microsoft Excel, databases, or web applications.