Pretoria News

Artificial intelligence used to disrupt the education sector – positively


THE explosion of artificial intelligence (AI) has seen the decline of human input and the increase of technological input.

What this means is that technology will soon take over.

Koa Academy is an online school from Grades 4-12 that uses the technologies of online learning in a way designed to benefit the landscape of education by disrupting it.

Principal Mark Anderson said that this disruption is a good thing: “Traditional assessment at school and university is woefully outdated, and is no longer meaningful in our modern world. These assessments have been designed to be relevant to the teaching of hard skills at a time when you needed to learn and memorise a series of facts or functions in order to do your job. They are designed to test memorisation and repetition, and yet the current world of work is demanding something very different.”

Anderson said the contemporary education system needed to change its methods because he believed those methods had been outdated for a while now, and don’t cater for the needs required in today’s world.

Anderson categorised the issue in three sections. First, pupils are trapped in high-pressure test cycles. Here, Anderson touches on how parents raise concerns about test and exam frequency, because pupils end up cramming. “There is a lot of content in the curriculum. If the

school relies on summative assessment, which means you teach the content and test learners’ knowledge at the end, then they are constantly cramming facts into their heads, memorising them so they can regurgitate them in tests. This means that there’s a lot of assessments packed into the school year, and pupils are experiencing sustained stress, which can turn into test anxiety.”

He said that the Koa Academy aims to move away from this approach and focus on understanding and application, similar to the Independent Examinations Board (IEB) programme.

Secondly, are assessments age-appropriate? “The way we assess a Grade 4, 9-year-old child, should not be the way we assess a Grade 12 pupil of 18. We should assess them differently because they are at different stages of their cognitive and psycho-emotional development.”

Anderson said to tackle this, Koa Academy does ongoing assessments on the lower grades whereby feedback is given to the pupil on their progress. This differs from the traditional method, as assessment is not at the end.

Thirdly, Anderson said assessments should not point out if a pupil is right or wrong and measure them on a particular test, but should provide them with insight into their understanding and ability to apply knowledge, as rich feedback from a teacher, or their online platform, empowers them to reflect on their learning, identify their own gaps or shortfalls and realise their strengths.

“This shifts the purpose of assessment from someone judging your learning, to more about your learning.” Anderson said that teachers provide constant feedback. Some of these teachers are subject specialists and provide one-onone support for those who experience difficulties.

Anderson concluded: “As the educational sector, we have some way to go to meet the challenges of re-thinking assessment and making it relevant to our modern world. However, these are the improvements that are paving the way for schools and universities to align fully with the context of 4IR (the Fourth Industrial Revolution), which includes finding innovative technologies to enhance teaching and learning.”

In 2023, it is estimated that over 14 million people will use CHATGPT daily. CHATGPT is an AI language that assists in research. In schooling terms, it can aid with understanding complicated mathematical concepts, generate school book reports and Grade 12 essays in real-time.





African News Agency