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Home » The Future of Education » It’s Personal: Adaptive Learning Technology and the Future of Education

AI-powered adaptive learning technology provides students with in-the-moment feedback, enhances teacher instruction and saves time for all. The Head of Google for Education shares how this technology can help transform the future of education. 

The COVID-19 pandemic put an unprecedented strain on all of society, including education. Overnight, students and teachers had to adapt to new routines and learning models. 

“It really has impacted learning at a global scale in a pretty significant way,” said Shantanu Sinha, Head of Google for Education. “As students come back into schools, it’s exceedingly important that we meet them where they are.”

Sinha was introduced to the education space in 2010 when his friend Sal Khan got him involved in what became known as Khan Academy. Sinha helped to evolve the operation from a one-man YouTube channel into a robust education platform that offers free online courses, lessons, and practice for a variety of subjects like math, chemistry, history, and more. 

Through this opportunity, Sinha got to see what happened when students were able to access the content they needed, in the moment they needed it. 

“When a student gets access to the right content or material at the right time, it really creates this magical moment where they suddenly get it,” Sinha said. “When technology can meet those individual needs, you see it being much more effective.”

Leveraging AI

Now Sinha wants to help teachers and students around the world have magic moments like that with adaptive learning technology.

He thinks about it this way: Today, a teacher might introduce a new math concept and then assign relevant practice problems. Students will attempt to complete the problems to the best of their ability, but may not know if they actually understood the concept until days or weeks later, after the teacher has graded the work and provided feedback.

“A piece of paper is a passive piece of equipment,” Sinha said. “It’s not giving you any feedback, you don’t understand how well you’re doing.”

With adaptive learning technology, students can work through an assignment and immediately know what they’re doing right and where they need more help. They can receive useful hints and video resources to help them overcome challenges right there and then, when the material is fresh in their mind. Google recently announced a new adaptive learning feature they’re developing for Google Classroom called practice sets, that allows teachers to create interactive assignments and provides students with real-time feedback.

“When you make these experiences interactive, it can dramatically improve the feedback loop for the student,” Sinha said. “Maybe when you’re writing an answer, your homework can tell you, ‘You got that right,’ or, ‘You didn’t get that right, and here’s some helpful content to teach you through that moment.’”

Read Along is another example of using AI-enabled technology to enhance education. The app, which is available in over 180 countries and in nine languages, uses Google’s speech recognition technology to help children learn how to read with the help of an in-app reading buddy named Diya. 

No wasted effort

Adaptive learning technology can help teachers understand their students’ learning processes faster by allowing them to see student attempts at a given problem. In this way, a teacher can see right away which students may be struggling with a given concept and dedicate additional time and materials to aid comprehension. With autograding capabilities, teachers can spend more time focusing on instruction.

“The technology can really help amplify a teacher’s impact,” Sinha said.

Adaptive learning technology also increases student engagement and motivation, allowing students to move faster through the work they understand and spend more time where they need help. The interactive nature also brings an element of fun to an assignment. One teacher trying out the technology shared her student’s reaction with Sinha’s team: “this is like not even work, this is cool’.”“I think this is really just the beginning of how we use this technology,” Sinha said. “Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen people relying on these tools in meaningful ways. And when we think about moving forward, how helpful these tools can become really just expands significantly.”

Learn more about adaptive learning technology and its potential to transform the future of education on the Google Keyword blog.

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