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‘Smart classroom’ is the future of school

‘Smart classroom’ is the future of school

MONDAY, August 14, 2017

SEOUL - Schools of the future will soon be expecting a paradigm shift in educative systems, focusing more on teaching students the "smart" way.

The role of teachers is set to become much different from that of today.

Schools of the future will be packed with a combination of artificial intelligence and personalized learning tools, education experts predicted.

“Students will not spend much time at school as they do now. They might have to come to school only for morning classes or even every other day,” said Gim Chae-chu, president of the Korean Educational Development Institute, a research group that develops educational goals, methods and policy solutions for South Korea’s Ministry of Education.

“After-school classes and self-study sessions will disappear in future schools,” Gim told The Korea Herald.

While at school, students will be involved with various forms of learning activities, he said. “For example, in one corner of a classroom, students would be engaged in lessons tailored toward their individual needs, interests and pace of learning with digital gadgets such as smart pads. In another corner, others would be exploring the upcoming content on the Internet.”

Teachers will play different roles as advisers, coaches, and facilitators who help students to learn in more self-motivated ways in future, Gim said.

Lee Kyung-ho, head of Future Education Research Institute, said that smart learning would be a new norm.

From primary and secondary schools, machine-assisted educational platforms will enable learners to study at their own pace and repeat subjects, courses or chapters that they are struggling with, Lee said.

“Traditionally, what teachers found it most challenging was meeting individual demands of students, regardless of a class’ size,” said Lee.

“New platforms based on AI will change that. Data on millions of lessons will help identify learning algorithms and patterns of individual students, suggesting a whole new approach to interact with students.”

There are already scoring robots on the market, albeit it still in their early stages, with the potential to free teachers from the tedious work of grading and allowing them to focus more on in-class activities.

A paradigm shift in education

As technology changes faster, so does the role of education, according to Han Yu-kyung, an education professor at Seoul’s Ewha Womans University.

A new education paradigm will ensure that learning is not to prepare students for one single profession or job skill, but to help them nurture the ability to constantly adapt to changing demands.

“It won’t be like just teaching students a set of fixed knowledge with textbooks over a fixed period. It has to be a lifelong learning process more responsive to the future workforce in a way that students can discover their true passions and talents,” Han said.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution across the world will inevitably change the way we think about work and “make us to think more creatively” than ever before. In the course of the transformation, outdated models of learning need to be replaced to cope with unknown challenges lying ahead, Han added.

Some of the challenges are already emerging, says Song Gil-young, an executive vice president of AI-based big data analytics company Daumsoft.

“Automated robots are already replacing low-skilled humans in various fields of jobs. In less than 50 years, AI machines will be able to beat humans many of the intellectual fields, including law and medicine.”

The main focus of education, therefore, should be on cultivating students’ competencies to identify and solve problems independently, not on operating machinery or doing basic programming, Gim Chae-chu of KEDI said.

“It is difficult to say that South Korean schools are successfully doing the job. It is because Korean education continues to focus more on delivering basic information and knowledge provided by textbooks. Fostering students’ capabilities to identify and solve problems so that they will be better prepared for the rapidly changing job market will be a must,” Gim said.

“We also need to change the evaluation system. We need to evaluate students based on whether they have the ability to create something by themselves or to identify and solve problems independently rather than evaluating them with written, multiple-choice tests.”

Will a college diploma still guarantee a better-paying job in the future? Not likely, say the experts.

“I believe that the value of college diplomas from famous universities will be gradually depreciated,” Gim said.

“In future, what’s important is not whether you possess knowledge. AI will beat humans in that. What is required is the ability to utilize that knowledge creatively.”