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The forced adoption of distance learning due to the pandemic has presented a steep learning curve for educators, students, and parents alike. But for VIPKid platform users, online education is nothing new — hundreds of thousands of students had been taking supplemental online courses headed by top online educators long before the global health crisis began.
It is now clearer than ever that the future of education lies in technology, and the cutting edge of that technology is artificial intelligence (AI). As an industry leader in technological innovations, we want to share a closer look at how VIPKid is using AI to support our teachers and students.
When you hear AI, you might picture robots coming to steal your job. At VIPKid, we believe in using AI to empower teachers, not replace them. We are known as the online learning platform with the best teachers, and that is our true superpower.
Let’s quickly define what we mean by AI, and lay out some key concepts that VIPKid plans to implement on our platform:
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the umbrella term for computer systems that are able to perform tasks that would normally require human intelligence.
- Adaptive learning technology gauges students’ development and skill level, and recommends study tasks for each student accordingly. These tasks include reading materials, activities, and exercises.
- Machine learning technology is used to recognize patterns and learn without any direct instructions. With machine learning, we can determine what causes distractions for certain students, and address areas where a student may be struggling before they’re able to fall behind.
AI is a Tool, not a Replacement
VIPKid has always been a leader in using innovative technology to enhance the education experience. As a leader in this field, we are often asked about AI and the role it will play in education in the years to come. The answer is clear: AI will undoubtedly be a part of the future of learning.
But AI can never replace teachers. Instead, AI will be a resource within the VIPKid platform. Our aim has always been to give teachers and students all the tools they need to deliver the best education experience possible. While VIPKid’s primary focus is live courses, we host a range of education offerings that are supplemented with AI-assisted adaptive teaching.
According to Xiaoming Xi, VIPKid’s Chief of Product, Assessment, and Learning, “no adaptive learning system can substitute a real live teacher in the physical or online classroom. If designed well, adaptive learning systems can become an effective catalyst for teaching and learning, enabling teachers to conduct higher-level interactive learning activities and more targeted instruction and learners for faster and better learning.”
VIPKid’s technological innovations help solve key challenges in online education, and we’re excited to offer education solutions that combine live teaching and AI. Our AI-embedded class includes fun, animated characters that assist the teacher, as well as a range of behind-the-scenes tools that let teachers teach more effectively.
Students Learn Better with the Help of AI
Last year, we conducted a trial on 10,000 students comparing the AI-embedded classes against pre-recorded video classes, and the results were striking. Course-completion rates for those in AI-embedded classes went up from 80% to 90%, and correct answer rates increased from 50% to 80%.
Using machine learning, VIPKid has also revamped student assessment, and performances have seen a dramatic improvement. Students using this new system saw their correct answer rate on homework assignments go up by 5% compared to traditional fixed form homework. Additionally, VIPKid’s new phonics level rating system even works over poor internet connection: a common challenge faced in remote areas of China where students often reside.
AI Helps Teachers Too!
These applications of AI not only enhance the student experience, but have the potential to transform the teacher experience as well.
As we look to the future, we can imagine how AI will allow teachers to delegate routine tasks, such as planning and assessment. Spending less time on these tasks lets teachers focus on students’ curiosity, critical thinking, and creativity – the three C’s that AI can never replace.
Additionally, VIPKid’s AI technology will help teachers address students’ behaviors that can be harder to pick up on in a virtual learning environment by observing students’ physical responses. If it’s determined that the student is distracted or confused, the AI makes a fast, accurate suggestion on the best interactive tool to use to re-engage the student and help move the lesson forward. This technology will help close the gap between in-person and virtual learning experiences.
Looking to the Future
As we continue to pioneer new technology, AI opens up tremendous possibilities for accessible supplementary education with improvements for both students and teachers. Even with this exciting technology, our primary focus at VIPKid continues to be our live one-to-one class: one teacher for one student. One thing is clear: AI can never replace teachers on the platform, as our founder and CEO Cindy Mi has said time and again. Technology could never replicate a teacher’s ability to emotionally connect with students.
AI may be part of the future of education, but teachers aren’t going anywhere.
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