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AI is revolutionising learning: Why should educational institutions in Singapore embrace this change?

By Tianyi (TJ) Jiang

Universities are facing a rapidly evolving job market where skills are the new currency. A recent study identified 11 critical skills for success, including collaboration, critical thinking, and perseverance.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help students hone essential skills by analysing their strengths and weaknesses. They can then curate personalised learning experiences that challenge students appropriately and provide targeted support. This personalised approach fosters the development of critical skills needed to thrive in the workforce.

Importance of Adapting to a Changing Work Landscape

In the realm of education and professional development, the landscape is undergoing a profound transformation driven by technology. As we navigate this evolving terrain, it is crucial for Singapore institutions to recognise the myriad opportunities it presents for individuals and society at large.

The imperative of lifelong learning has been underscored by organisations such as UNESCO, emphasising the need for continuous upskilling and reskilling in response to the dynamic demands of the modern economy. Notably, the training participation rate of individuals jumped to 50 per cent, a 42 per cent increase from when SkillsFuture was originally launched, according to the Budget 2024.

Over the past few years, we have witnessed a revolution in learning methodologies, with online and distance education emerging as formidable alternatives to traditional classroom settings. What was once considered a supplementary or remedial option has now evolved into a fundamental component of lifelong learning and professional development.

In a 2021 study which surveyed over 80,000 people from six ASEAN countries, including Singapore, respondents who
indicated higher levels of digitalisation in their work and business were more economically resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic. This underscores the critical role of digitalisation in today’s work landscape, especially in navigating economic uncertainties.

Looking ahead, technology, particularly generative AI, will continue to revolutionise learning paradigms, offering personalised and immersive experiences akin to those provided by leading retail brands. This disruption promises to usher in a new era of social, personalised, and informal learning, empowering individuals to navigate the complexities of the modern workplace with confidence and agility.

The Rise of the Copilot: A Personalised Learning Companion

Imagine having a personalised learning companion, an AI copilot that tailors your education to your unique needs and goals. This is the future of learning platforms powered by AI.

A copilot acts as a dynamic companion that supports a student throughout their entire learning journey, constantly analysing their strengths and weaknesses. It can also help educators expedite content preparation, to offer the right level of challenges and extra support for learners where needed. No student gets left behind – everyone receives a personalised learning experience that optimises their potential.

Since 2023, AI tools have been incorporated into teaching and learning in local universities, while regulating AI use to ensure that students continue to think critically and independently.

Beyond Personalised Learning: The Advantages of AI Augmented Learning
AI solutions, such as Copilot, come with several advantages. AI can revolutionise accessibility in education. Speech-to-text and text-to-speech features can break down barriers for students with hearing impairments or learning disabilities,
fostering a truly inclusive learning environment.

AI can also help identify and remove bias from educational materials and assessments. AI algorithms can scan content for cultural insensitivity or discriminatory language, ensuring fairness and inclusivity in the learning journey.

Language is no longer a hurdle with AI-powered translation tools. AI can bridge communication gaps and foster understanding among students from diverse backgrounds.

Grading becomes a collaborative effort with AI. By automating repetitive tasks and reducing the potential for human bias, AI can help ensure a fair and accurate evaluation of student learning.

The future of education is bright, with AI-powered copilots empowering every learner with a personalised guide. These copilots will anticipate student needs, recommend personalised skill development pathways, and tailor learning experiences to individual career aspirations.

Data Readiness is Key for AI Success

To unlock the full potential of AI for learning or teaching, universities need to prioritise data preparedness. High-quality, well-governed data is the bedrock for impactful AI solutions.

AI is only as good as the data it's trained on. Organisations will need to ensure a strong enterprise data foundation for AI at scale to return data-driven recommendations that are relevant, authorised, and effective. This includes having the right guardrails in place to protect sensitive data and controlling data exposure to the right group of users. Additionally, every AI-augmented interaction a learner has informs important decisions. Therefore, the data collected needs to be reliable, contextualised, and secure.

Unfortunately, we face a data quality and data trust issue that is pervasive among organisations in all industries, including education, today. The largest concerns faced by organisations relate to data privacy and security, quality and organisation of internal data, and integration complexity.

Organisations, including universities, training providers, and government agencies, need to prioritise data management and governance. This includes mapping information, proper classification, and establishing data governance frameworks. With a strong data foundation, universities can ethically adopt democratised AI applications like Copilot, to enhance personalised learning and teaching experiences, and to unlock student or workforce potential in the skills-driven economy.

The Future of Learning is Here

In this new economy, skills are paramount. Graduates will be hired, promoted, and paid based on their skill sets. Universities that embrace AI technology by prioritising data readiness will be at the forefront of preparing students for success in this dynamic landscape.

AI presents a unique opportunity to not just change education, but to fundamentally transform it. With responsible AI applications built on a strong data foundation, universities can lead the way in unlocking human potential for the next generation of learners.

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