Article | December 15, 2021
There’s no question the COVID-19 pandemic has brought many challenges to everyday life. But it has also spurred rapid growth in technologies that aim to make everyday life simpler, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Many industries have been fueling this growth, automating processes through AI (the use of computers and machines to mimic human problem-solving and decision-making abilities).
K–12 education is no exception. As schools rushed to accommodate remote learning with little notice — and maintain a secure online network for students and staff — many incorporated elements of AI and ML. Between digital assistants, endpoint security, chatbots and more, AI is gaining a foothold in U.S. classrooms.
Here are three trends to look for in 2022:
AI in Digital Assistants Helps K–12 Teachers Manage Classrooms
“Alexa, read us a story.”
That’s one way teachers are using digital assistants, such as the popular Amazon Echo device — technology that many parents of home-bound students used last year to aid in their children’s educational routines — in the classroom.
One school district in California has integrated this technology even further with the Symphony Classroom device from Merlyn Mind, described as the world’s first digital assistant for education. The device is powered by Edge AI, combining artificial intelligence with edge computing technology.
It’s a way of getting technology to kids where they’re at and when they need it, says Brian Fish, an English teacher at Rancho Verde High School in California.
“Nothing can replace a teacher. However, technology can expand teaching,” Fish says.
Elsewhere in the Val Verde Unified School District, first grade teacher Jennifer Thornton says it comes in handy in her classroom because she’s never at her desk for very long. Through voice commands, Merlyn — the name given to the AI — can navigate tabs on Thornton’s computer and play or pause a YouTube video for a lesson, for example.
“It’s helped a lot with the classroom management,” she says.
Darren Crist, an elementary special education teacher in the district, also uses it for videos in his classroom. But Merlyn’s best feature, at least for Crist’s students, is its visual timer, which helps them with time management and more.
Crist also assigns students to be in charge of Merlyn as a classroom job, which helps them develop life skills.
“As a special ed teacher I’m focused a lot on, not just the normal standards of academics, but making sure that my kids are able to get some of that executive functioning they might be lacking,” he says.
"Nothing can replace a teacher. However, technology can expand teaching.”
- Brian Fish English teacher, Rancho Verde High School
Next-Generation Cybersecurity Solutions Integrate AI Technology
The use of AI and ML is also shaping cybersecurity and the IT industry. For example, these technologies “can offer IT security professionals a way to enforce good cybersecurity practices and shrink the attack surface instead of constantly chasing after malicious activity,” BizTech reports.
So, what does that mean for schools?
Between January and May 2020, as the pandemic took root, the use of remote management and collaboration apps increased by 87 percent and 141 percent, respectively, in K–12 schools, according to an Absolute Software survey of more than 10,000 school and district representatives.
Despite the rise in online applications for teaching and learning, “educational institutions are spending more on endpoint security yet gaining less visibility and control. Forty-one percent of schools say tracking devices is one of their most significant challenges,” Forbes reported.
That’s where technology such as next-generation endpoint security comes into play. “This advanced protection leverages artificial intelligence to recognize potentially dangerous threats — both known and unknown — in real time without the need for signatures, increasing speed-to-action via a proactive, streamlined security protocol,” according to a CDW•G white paper.
Cybersecurity solutions powered by AI and ML are becoming more popular in school districts because they give time back to small IT teams and allow them to scale security with the introduction of large device fleets.
Chatbots Rely on AI to Improve Communication and Tutoring
AI-powered chatbots have been shown to improve classroom efficiency and help teachers communicate with parents.
Since the onset of the pandemic, even more uses for chatbots have started to gain steam. With tutoring seen as a solution to helping students overcome the COVID-19 learning disruption, chatbots could help bridge the equity gap between students who can’t afford private, traditional tutors and those who can.
“To me, AI is just a set of simple tools that we can use, in this case, to figure out some problems that teachers and kids are persistently having,” researcher Neil Heffernan, a computer science professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, says. “The real magic is giving human tutors and teachers a little bit of information on what’s going on so they can be more efficient.”
Google released a suite of programs for higher education that include virtual assistants and, as of November, an AI tutor. The applications in this software suite, called Student Success Services, can be customized for use in K–12 classrooms.
Article | December 9, 2021
After almost two years of disruption due to the pandemic, our ongoing recovery has highlighted the value of embracing change and working much more flexibly than before, refusing to give up at the first hurdle and a willingness to work together to achieve a common goal. These transferable skills are becoming ever more important for us to thrive in our increasingly automated world, and they are skills that can be developed and embedded through the medium of mathematics.
Fluency, reasoning, and problem-solving are the three foundations of our mathematics curriculum. By valuing them all, we will ensure that our future workforce has the confidence and skills to work together much more effectively to solve problems, overcome hurdles, and sustain our recovery. Let’s begin with fluency. Although AI is becoming increasingly prevalent, benefiting both our social and working lives, we still need number skills, perhaps now more than ever. Too many high-profile technology projects have failed due to basic mathematical errors. We need our education system to nurture the types of number skills needed in industry, especially a much greater focus on using and applying number skills. We must encourage students to develop their confidence in estimating quantities and a willingness to check calculations, even when they’ve used a spreadsheet or calculator.
From NASA’s disintegrating space probes to trains that don’t fit their platforms and submarines that are just too big, the tech world is littered with avoidable, costly mistakes. Acquiring number fluency means developing a ‘feel’ for numbers so that we can easily spot when something is not quite right; the NASA probe disintegrated due to a simple error converting units, the trains would not fit because no-one checked the platform sizes, and the submarines needed refitting due to an error entering spreadsheet error. Each of those three were incredibly costly, totalling millions, if not billions of pounds, but they were all avoidable too. We must nurture a willingness to estimate and develop a ‘feel’ for numbers, known as ‘number sense,’ alongside the more traditional approach of performing more formal calculations when needed. After all, few people head to the shops armed with a pencil, squared paper, and a ruler in readiness to calculate their change at the cash register.
We need to value number sense and rethink our expectations of the primary curriculum.
Encouraging a different approach towards the teaching and learning of mathematics may also help to address the gender imbalance in the subject. If you filled a room with a hundred math professors, the chances are that less than ten would be female. However, female mathematicians have played key roles in the fight against COVID. Mathematical modellers such as Professor Julia Gog, based at the University of Cambridge, drew on her research as an adviser to the government’s SAGE committee.
Nevertheless, even though more students study A-Level mathematics than any other subject, few female students choose to apply to study mathematics at university. My own research with female A-Level candidates reveals their preference for careers which help others and contribute towards a better society.
However, they often do not appreciate how studying mathematics might help them to realise their dreams by helping thousands, if not millions, of others through research on climate change, medicine, and networks.
We know that the gender gap in mathematical performance starts at a young age, and researchers have suggested that the changing expectations in the curriculum as students progress through their schooling might dissuade girls from continuing to study mathematics at a higher level. At primary school, pupils are expected to master written calculations such as long division and long multiplication to achieve ‘age-related expectations.’ However, to progress further, they also need to be able to solve problems, and this seems to be the point where female students lose out.
It has been argued that the switch from being rewarded for learning procedures to solving problems favours boys over girls, and the persistent gender gap in results for higher-achieving primary pupils appears to add weight to that argument. Effort are being made to encourage more females to consider studying mathematics, including the Maths 4 Girls project which organises school visits from female role models and the careers arm of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications which organises poster competitions to encourage more school students to think carefully about studying mathematics, both projects which I support. Yet more needs to be done.
Our curriculum and assessment system are designed to value number sense, estimating and problem-solving skills and perhaps rethink the time schools devote to rehearsing written calculations. Otherwise, we risk overlooking the huge potential of our current female students to contribute and build on the work of their predecessors, including Florence Nightingale, Mary Boole, Ada Lovelace, and Julia Gog, among many others.
To continue our recovery from COVID and rebuild our economy, we must embrace the potential of mathematics for developing and embedding the skills and attitudes that our students will need to thrive in their increasingly automated world: a willingness to "play" with numbers, estimate and check their answers; an enthusiasm for solving problems and working together; and an understanding that it’s OK to get stuck sometimes. We can overcome the hurdles that we face by working together as a team.
Article | December 9, 2021
What role will artificial intelligence play in the future of education? For educators, AI can feel like an exciting development — or a terrifying unknown.
AI technology is advancing quickly and creating solutions once thought impossible. It’s widely available in various technologies and, in many places, already being integrated into the classroom. The pandemic spurred the development of educational technology out of necessity, including the development of AI. Suddenly, educators needed ways to obtain more information virtually.
“We were starting to work on AI during the pandemic, but it sped up because there was a huge demand for it. All these things were happening online, and teachers were saying. I don’t know what’s happening in my classroom anymore."
- Mike Tholfsen, principal group product manager at Microsoft Education
With educators busier than ever, Tholfsen says, the greatest benefit AI can offer them is time. AI programs can gather data teachers would traditionally have to gather themselves manually.
What Is Artificial Intelligence?
Trying to define artificial intelligence is a bit like asking about the meaning of life: You will get a slightly different answer from everyone. At its core, AI is an area of computer science addressing the simulation of intelligent behavior in computers.
Michelle Zimmerman, a classroom teacher, researcher and school leader at Renton Prep Christian School in Washington state and author of the book Teaching AI: Exploring New Frontiers for Learning, notes that psychologists and neurologists in the field don’t even agree on what counts as human intelligence.
The definition also changes over time. Not too long ago, simple calculators were considered AI, while the term now is associated with a variety of innovative technologies, such as those that power content filtering and endpoint security.
Artificial Intelligence vs. Machine Learning: What’s the Difference?
Though not all AI involves machine learning, it is a popular subcategory of the technology. Machine learning refers to machines that process vast amounts of data and also have the capacity to get better at it the more they “learn,” Zimmerman says.
“You can train models with machine learning to improve things. An example is speech-to-text technology,” Tholfsen says.
“Machine learning needs a lot of data to train it to look for patterns and understand what it is looking for. The more data, the more refined or accurate the results. The results, though, are only as good as the data included,” Zimmerman says.
How Can AI Be Used in K–12 Education?
AI is already playing a role in many classrooms and has promising benefits that can be integrated now and in the future.
What if an AI program could play the role of a teacher or coach, leading students through lessons and even motivating them? Nancye Black, founder of the Block Uncarved and project lead for ISTE’s AI Explorations program, says AI can support learners in a variety of ways. As a Columbia University researcher, she’s exploring how avatar interactions impact students. “There is some really promising research around the use of AI agents supporting girls and students of color, who are able to — in a lower-risk situation — ask for help and have social learning, even when they are learning independently,” Black says.
If educators could host reading workshops around the classroom with each individual student, they would. Instead, AI-powered products such as Microsoft’s Immersive Reader can help educators focus on improving education for the 1 in 7 learners who have a disability, Tholfsen says. The product uses text decoding solutions to individualize instruction.
"Machine learning needs a lot of data to train it to look for patterns and understand what it is looking for. The more data, the more refined or accurate the results.”
- Michelle Zimmerman Classroom Teacher, Researcher and School Leader, Renton Prep Christian School
Translation technology is improving quickly, and these tools include more dialects and language nuances every day. A teacher in New York, for example, used AI technology to host a virtual parent night for families who speak multiple different languages, Tholfsen says. Microsoft Translate allows the teacher to generate a code, which broadcasts to everyone connecting to the stream. It translates the speaker’s language into listeners’ languages without the necessity of a human interpreter. “Listeners can type or speak back in their languages, and it cross-translates, so when you type back in Spanish, it goes to me in English, translates to Mike in Italian, and to the person speaking Arabic or Chinese,” Tholfsen says. “It’s like the Star Trek universal translator.”
Accessibility checkers are helping educators increase access for low-vision students. “We use AI and computer vision to identify what is in an image and generate a caption,” Tholfsen says. “It’s a massive timesaver to do auto-captioning on images, so people are much more likely to make their content accessible.”
The implementation of AI tools won’t replace educators but will instead help them save time. The tech can be customized to fit any classroom, putting educators in control of the AI tools — not the other way around.
Article | November 16, 2021
Two Years in Lockdown with Digital Boost, Growing Competition, and Easy Accessibility through the Self-Publishing Platforms, Traditional Publishing is facing a major fallback to keep up with the Trends and the Changes within India.
Many people still prefer publishing a book in an old-fashioned traditional way, but this is certainly not the future.
It seems to me that Traditional Publishing is something we’re all going to be working with while also considering other formats that might overpower it or co-exist with it – whether it's Self-Publishing, Hybrid Publishing &/or Audio Publishing (Podcasts).
With Covid-19 and Lockdown, a lot of people shifted their attention to pursue their passion and started writing.
In order to Leverage Authority and Build a Brand, a lot of Thought Leaders and Experts, Wrote and Published a Book in a specific Niche.
In order to Start with the Writing Career, a ton of Amateur Writers, Wrote and Published their Content in an Anthology.
Not to forget, many celebrities also took up the challenge of penning their autobiographies in the form of a Book like Priyanka Chopra Jonas.
There were more than 1 Million, New Instagram Writing Accounts created, and over 2.2 Million books Published in 2020 itself.
This solidifies the rising demand of The Writing and Publishing Industry.
Self Publishing Rise
Traditional book publishers were once known as the Titans of the Book Publishing Industry.
During the 1970s, there was no such concept as Self-Publishing. Over time, Traditional Publishers gradually started to exploit Authors by offering Lower Royalties and seizing the Author's Publishing Rights.
Fast forward to 2005, with the penetration of the Internet and Social Media, things started to speed up.
The online Self-Publishing giant Amazon has had a huge impact on the Book-Selling Industry, driving many Brick-and-Mortar Bookstores out of Business.
This marked the rise of Self-Publishing Books and the rapid growth of e-Books and Audio Books.
Fall of Traditional Publishing
There are various reasons why 97% of Writers avoid choosing a Traditional Publisher like:
Complex Selection Process,
Very Less to No Control of the Book,
Huge Time Investment,
Absolutely No Creative & Marketing Control
Benefits of Self-Publishing
There are various reasons 97% of Writers are choosing Self-Publishing like:
Full ownership of Rights and Royalties,
No Start-Up Cost,
Full Control of the Book,
Full Creative & Marketing Control,
Control on Pricing,
Complete Freedom, No-One telling You, what you can and cannot Do,
Significantly High-Profit Potential,
Pitch your Book Straight to the Readers,
Publish any Niche Books and become the Expert of that Niche.
Firstly the question arises, Who all should Write A Book?
Anyone can Write and Publish a Book!
Why should you write a book?
1 ) You can help others
Writing about yourself, your life lessons, your experiences, how you have tackled some of the most traumatic situations, helps other people around the globe deal with the same problem as yours.
Each one of us has unique life experiences, worth sharing with the world!
2 ) You become an authority
Becoming an author sets you apart from the rest of the crowd. You become an expert in your niche. You gain that credibility and authority that lifts you up from the rest of the crowd.
3 ) Grow your business
Writing a book can help grow your business, it can act as the new ‘Business Card’.
Imagine, you going to a meeting, and instead of exchanging your business card, you give a copy of your book?
Not only the person wouldn’t forget you but also keep the book copy securely with him, which otherwise your business card would have been long lost.
4 ) Recurring passive income
Writing a book, and setting it up through a perfect step-by-step system, would allow you to gain recurring passive income, i.e. ‘royalties’, that are transferred every month into your bank account.
5 ) Learning New Skills
By writing a book, you not only build credibility but also learn new skills in the entire process of writing and publishing your book. For example, skills like project management, writing, setting goals, planning, accountability, commitment, and many more!
6 ) Ripple Effect and Creates Value
One book can create a ripple effect in the world.
One book can entirely change the lives of thousands of people around the world.
One book can create enormous value and a positive impact on the world.
It only takes one book!
7) Our Time here is Finite
When we write and publish a book, we leave behind our legacy, our footprints, our life lessons, our value system, and our teachings for generations and generations of people to learn from.
We will die one day, but our teachings, morals, and lessons will be forever here in the form of our book.
This reason is a huge answer to the ‘Why write a book.’
8 ) You'll Gain more Knowledge
While writing a book, research is a must. Through the complete process of research, you’ll learn more insights, gain more knowledge, and become an expert in that niche.
9 ) Impact beyond Yourself
Writing a book is not only about gaining royalties and credibility, No!
Your book can generate goodwill, your legacy, and most importantly, itcan help solve problems for people, creating a positive impact on their lives, and helping change their lives forever!
It will create an impact greater and beyond yourself!
10 ) Sense of Accomplishment
Imagine yourself holding the first copy of your own book.
A sense of pride, confidence, and accomplishment.
It doesn’t matter if your book is not a best seller or if you become famous, the bigger picture will be that it is your book! You created it! It will forever be something you can call as ‘Yours’, and be proud of!
Believe me, the feeling of holding the first copy of my book was beyond amazing!
11 ) You'll Reignite a Passion
If writing was your hobby, and in the time's course, you just couldn’t give any time or energy, here is your bright chance to reignite it!
Paths to Publishing Your Book
As discussed earlier, you are aware of the two paths of publishing, i.e. Traditional Publishing and Self-Publishing. There is one more way of publishing you can opt for!
Firms that charge fees for various publishing-related services such as Formatting, Cover Design, and Copyediting and help Indie Writers Professionally Self-Publish Their Work is Assisted Self-Publishing.
Authors earn all of the royalties and retain full control over Editing and Cover Design and Title.
WHRUTS also helps and provides these services.
Reading has become a part of our daily activities now.
Book readership has increased by 30% since the Previous Year and People are routinely searching for new stories to capture their attention, With more writers being seen and heard, it’s no wonder readership is up.
Self-Publishing is the future of publishing in a world where everyone can be a Writer.