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Cognitive computing enters the education space

Education is changing. You’re probably already tired of hearing this. But that’s just the start. Things are getting more interesting thanks to technology.

Cognitive computing for example is making its way towards education. IBM is one of the companies which wants to have a big role in the segment thanks to Watson.

The intelligent supercomputer is exploring quite a lot of different fields. It played Jeopardy! a while back. Then it started to make recipes and it is helping doctors diagnose patients. Watson is also dabbling in education as well.

According to IBM has already eyed several key areas in which Watson can help education. Cognitive computing will become a vital part in the whole educational system. And here’s why.

Watson is at it

First, school administrations will be able to use AI to analyze their data. Imagine being able to analyze the performance of students on a whole new level. And also imagine being able to spot key trends and changes way before they materialize. This will allow schools to change and adapt their material to the students and even to each individual student. This is making education personal and engaging, instead of simply making students read the same textbook.

IBM also plans to allow schools to customize Watson and the settings they use. Schools will be able to adapt the technology to their needs. This is important since a school specializing in IT for example will have different goals than a school focusing on arts.

Schools will also be able to use Watson for researches. Imagine having access to all of this computational power. The students will also benefit from these researches. IBM envisions apps and services which help students or motivate them to carry their own researches.

“In a world where humans and machines are working together in increasingly collaborative relationships, breakthroughs in the field of machine vision will potentially help us live healthier more productive lives,” said Guru Banavar, Chief Scientist, Cognitive Computing and VP at IBM Research to AmigoBulls.

IBM is working with MIT to develop cognitive computing systems. They will emulate the human ability to understand and integrate inputs from multiple sources of audio and visual information. This will allow computers to “see” and “experience” the world almost like humans.

All of this knowledge is already helping. IBM is working with Sesame Workshop to develop a reading application. It will help kids learn how to read while Watson analyzes the child’s response in real time and adapts the app and the tasks.

There is also a package of classroom tools in the works. One of them will help teachers tailor better experiences in their classes. They will also be able to make individual learning objectives for students. It will adapt to the preferences and suggest better approaches and materials.

Trainings can change, too

Watson’s teaching skills will also make their way to businesses. Companies already use some apps which are based on Watson to help their employees make better decisions. Other apps can answer specific questions. Some companies await the day when Watson will be able to help them decide what trainings they need to have for their teams. Currently, this is not happening, but it’s on the way.

But it’s not just Watson. Companies like Slack, Facebook and Google are also actively working on chatbots. While most of them are business-related, some are made for education. AdmitHub for example has made a chatbot for new students. It will help them navigate the college transition process, VentureBeat reports. Bill Gates has also suggested that chatbots can be used as a tutoring resource for students.

This doesn’t mean that soon we won’t need teachers or trainers. But it means that they will have intelligent help in order to provide a better education and training.

Image credit: Flickr (CC) / Mr Seb