Dec 12, 2016 | Heather Hoeppner
The Potential of Natural Language Generation For Improving Education
The fear that computers will conquer humanity isn’t new - we just need to look at Hollywood or search Google to validate it. However, there are more reasons to run towards, rather than away, from intelligent machines as they can undeniably augment our efforts at a scale not possible with human effort alone. This is particularly true when it comes to solving some of society’s most pressing challenges in education, where demand exceedingly outweighs supply.
For example, the US education system is mired in data. Ever since No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was introduced in the early 2000s, accountability for students and teachers has been grounded in standardized testing. It has enabled schools, districts, and states to collect massive amounts of information on student performance and then, compare those data points across districts, cities, and states.
Unfortunately, much of the information is underused as people struggle to make sense of the information provided. The reasons behind it are varied, but a few of note include:
- Data is complex and difficult to understand for anyone who isn’t a trained analyst.
- Data visualization tools rarely speak to the end user in a way that is easy to digest.
- Teachers are incredibly busy and shouldn’t have to be burdened with tedious data analysis.
AI and Education?
Analyzing the information in order to determine the best actions to take for classroom change could be a full-time job. This is a ripe area for artificial intelligence (AI) technology, such as Advanced Natural Language Generation (Advanced NLG), which automatically distills the data into actionable stories people can easily understand.
Advanced NLG systems automatically analyze structured data and convert it into a narrative that reads and writes as if written by a human. For education, this could mean personalized explanations of standardized testing results that get distributed to millions of parents - information that would be impossible to share today on an individual basis.
Improving Outcomes with Advanced NLG
What if, rather than a summary chart with scores and acronyms, a parent received a one-page summary of key findings and insights from their child’s standardized exam? What if we could automate summaries of district, school, class, and student data trends for attendance, demographics, socioeconomic status, etc. in real time to enable leaders and policymakers to make faster, more informed decisions?
Advanced NLG provides a unique solution for tackling many of these inefficiencies burdening educators, students, and families because it can digest the data presented and convert it into text in plain English. Apply these solutions on a national scale and there is a real opportunity to help the most influential leaders in education take action more quickly to ensure all students receive the information and help they deserve from those individuals committed to their learning.
The challenges in our education systems are vast and AI presents a unique and critical role in pushing innovation forward. Let’s not miss out.