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AWS: AI and ML is the Future of Education4 min read

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Posted date December 6, 2018

Artificial Learning (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) is not only changing the way we do business, but also revolutionizing the education system.  Amazon Web Services (AWS) talks to Techsauce about the future these sectors. 

It is a common headline that is popping up everywhere.  Various industries are going through digital transformations and the face of the workforce has changed.  Technology waits for no one.  There is a sense of urgency for change in the way we work and the way we learn.  

Vincent Quah, the regional head for Education, Research, Healthcare and Non-profits in APAC and Japan, AWS, says universities are awakening to the need for change and finding ways to utilize cloud services to better society and produce skilled professionals to power the digital transformation in various sectors. 

People don’t realize they are tech savvy 

Quah says most people do not know they are already tech savvy.  The average person is already consuming cloud services through their smart phones and smart TVs.  However what is interesting is this adoption does not transfer to the working environment.  Getting someone at an office to take on new technologies is not always as easy as teaching someone how to use a smart phone to keep in touch with friends. 

This is what AWS is working to solve by creating an awareness through its work with institutions and getting people to learn about technology.  Students tend to take on tech faster and if educational institutions fail to take that journey with them, they may fall behind in providing the human resources needed.  History has shown that universities can transform themselves.  This is seen through the early adoption of setting up websites and conducting student affairs online.  Institutes need to know there is nothing to fear.  Quah believes their fears can be quelled through proper articulation of how digital transformation can occur.   

Where AI and ML come into play 

Quah says AI and ML can be used to improve teaching and learning techniques by monitoring how students obtain information through the use of learning management systems.  By observing what works and what does not, AI and ML can design models of learning that are personalized to each student.  

Everyone learns in different ways and one way of learning does not always work for everyone.  There are those who may learn faster with audio cues versus and those who excel with visual cues.  Some may need a more hands-on experience to understand better. 

In the future AI and ML are going to be the key technological drivers that will change the face of education.

It will help anticipate student dropouts and work to lower the rate.  Learning will become more personalized.  Voice assistance will make it easier for those who have disabilities or are visually impaired.

What lies ahead 

There is a shift among universities.  From having their own websites, they are now using cloud services.  The end goal is to migrate one’s own database to AWS.  According to Quah, universities across the world are going all in when it comes to technology.  Universities doing this are the University of Arizona in the United States and Monash University in Australia.  Even in Southeast Asia, there is a university in the Philippines that runs a learning management system for over 50,000 students on AWS.  Another university is running its entire finance, human resources, and student information systems on AWS.  

AWS has been growing 46% year over year and has an annual rate of 27 billion USD.  To sustain this growth it needs people with the right skills.  That resulted in the start of  Amazon Web Services educational technology startup accelerator.  An accelerator that provides Education Technology (EdTech) startups with resources for a quick AWS start.  The program assists startups with online learning, analytics, and campus management solutions on AWS Cloud.   

Qualified startups for this program are those that are less than 5 years old, located in an approved AWS region, and generate less than US$10 million in annual revenue.  AWS is available in the US, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.  There is no cost for membership and no equity is taken. 

Since launching in the U.S. in early 2017, the program has issued over US$2 million in AWS Promotional Credits to help startups.  Credits are used to access AWS services for free.  

AWS has also worked with King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology, Ladkrabang on a hackathon attended by more than 160 students fro 6-7 countries in Asia.  Students compete to find solutions to real life problems proposed by companies.  Winning teams have the opportunity to work with real companies. 

Overall the future will see closer cooperation between universities, students, and the private sector through the use of technology.  Quah puts it quite simply, 

The face of education is going to change.

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