Throughout history, we have witnessed the profound impact of technological innovations – from the invention of the printing press to the development of the internet – on the way we acquire knowledge and communicate.
We have consistently assimilated these resources within our educational landscape to great advantage. Among the myriad of potentially positive applications, it should be highlighted the accessibility that generative AI can provide. For individuals with disabilities like Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs), or those for whom English (or indeed, any target language) is not their mother tongue, generative AI can narrow any disparity in communication and learning.
Here we explore some of the areas we think AI can be used for real societal benefit.
Personalisation and Tutoring
Research has shown that private tutoring can substantially enhance the reading abilities of children with severe reading difficulties, increasing their skills by 50% within a year. However, the challenge lies in extending such tutoring benefits to a wider range of students. Generative AI offers a promising solution, with the potential to establish immersive virtual tutoring environments that cater to a diverse array of learners.
If generative AI models can be trained to respond to students’ inquiries with greater precision than human tutors, the costs associated with personalised education could be dramatically reduced, thereby significantly lowering barriers to entry. Companies like TutorAI have already begun to harness this technology, offering interactive educational content across various topics. The introduction of chatbots for tutoring represents another innovative application, offering 24/7 support in both education and day-to-day tasks to struggling students and parents. By alleviating the pressure on educators, they are given extra time to concentrate on other essential responsibilities. Enhanced online learning experiences such as these, featuring increased personalisation, could foster greater accessibility to education in countries with poor educational capacity, further empowering the next generation of learners.
AI-driven analysis of student data can also help in identifying silently struggling students and assessing learning outcomes more effectively. Analysing student data – including past performance, skills, and feedback – allows individual needs, strengths, and weaknesses to be identified. Tools like EducatorLab enable the generation of tailored, adaptive learning resources and curriculums for those with learning disabilities, such as quizzes, tutorials, and exercises. Tailored feedback can empower students to better pinpoint their areas of difficulty, enabling them maximum progress. This technology could also enable educators to precisely cater to the unique requirements of adult learners.
New Ways of Learning
By harnessing the capabilities of advanced AI-driven tools, we can empower students with learning disabilities to overcome communication barriers and unlock their full potential. Generative AI tools like Scholarcy or SciSummary can automatically produce simplified renditions of research articles, reports, and chapters, rendering them more comprehensible for neurodivergent individuals. The integration of cutting-edge text-to-speech tools, designed to elucidate the intricacies of written text to students with dyslexia or reading difficulties, would allow those with learning disabilities to access and absorb knowledge effortlessly. For those with ADHD, these technologies could enhance focus and support sustained engagement with educational materials through novel approaches to information intake. Text-to-speech solutions like Murf could also grant visually impaired students unprecedented access to a diverse range of content.
Communication and Social Skills
Generative AI can also break down language barriers and enable the seamless translation of educational resources. This global access to materials transcends borders and makes space for elevated inclusivity. Moreover, generative AI facilitates the integration of non-English sources into educational convention, fostering a truly global perspective.
Generative AI has the potential to provide invaluable support to neurodivergent and dyspraxic individuals in their written communication. AI, like AutogenAI’s software, can generate written responses that are well-structured, organised, and concise; and can also offer various ways for expressing ideas in an easier-to-understand manner, such as breaking topics down into bullet points or using simpler words and shorter sentences. For those with dyslexia or English as a second language, generative AI can provide assistance by swiftly correcting spelling and grammar errors, helping to quickly compose written messages, and by reordering algorithms to better display the meaning of written text, and presenting the key points of the text in an easy-to-digest manner. Additionally, it can provide insight into the nuances of language for neurodivergent individuals to better comprehend and respond to social cues.
The pervasive nature of generative AI, while offering immense potential, is not without its inherent challenges in data accuracy and ethics. However, it is crucial to consider both these inherent challenges, and its vast potential benefits. In this day and age, where technology is ever-evolving and information is increasingly accessible, generative AI presents a unique opportunity to bridge the gap between those who suffer from inaccessibility, and those who do not. By leveraging the power of AI, we can create a world where all have the ability to access knowledge, communicate effectively, and unlock our full potential. In doing so, we not only empower the individual, but we ensure a more equitable future for all.
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