Can Technology Help Students Outcomes?

Micah Castelo recently wrote a piece in Ed Tech explaining how AI-driven assistance will be used to improve outcomes for college students. It offers hope for those students who stumble and fall into college not knowing how or why they got there; but all the examples of algorithms designed to streamline and increase positive outcomes are not being applied to the population that needs it most.

Even if someone working on a college degree is not successful in completing it, they have already succeeded in navigating highs school with enough success to gain acceptance into college. The young people I worry most about are the ones who falter in high school or complete high school with no ideas about what to do next.

The same type of machine learning algorithm that helped educators at Ivy Tech Community College in Indianapolis identify at-risk students and made early intervention possible could work with high school student at every grade level. Even before high school, these kinds of AI applications can be used to dissect learning challenges in specific subjects so that targeted instruction could prevent failure.

Before even reading the article, the title brought to mind images of IBM’s Watson computer being given access to all known questions a high school freshman asked in Biology class and all the acceptable responses given by their peers or instructors. Watson would make for a very good study partner when the student began to struggle with a difficult concept. I have no doubt that my math skills would be exponentially better had I been given just a little more targeted information during Algebra 1 class in high school.

Considering how much more money the United States spends on education than any other country, our students should be among the smartest on the planet – instead they rank number 23 among industrialized nations in reading, math and science. Maybe we could shift a bit of that investment to a deep learning study assistant that could be infused with a tutoring website like Khan Academy to recognize the disconnect and provide the bridge to continued academic progress.

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