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An online course with an AI tutor achieves a significantly higher completion rate than traditional online courses thanks to a personalized learning experience. Does Artificial Intelligence enable quality education for everyone?

Artificial Intelligence can revolutionize education: Instead of mass teaching, AI tutors could provide personalized, active and hands-on learning experiences. This can be a useful complement to the crowded classroom, the dry lecture, and especially in combination with online courses, which are used by millions of people around the world to learn every day.

The latter scenario in particular plays a central role in the plans of learning platform startup Korbit, as only a small portion of humanity has access to quality education. Many areas of the world lack educational infrastructure – from school buildings to qualified teaching staff.

AI tutors to oversee online courses

Even though many countries lack digital infrastructure, access to the Internet is often easier than to traditional educational institutions. The corona pandemic has also changed the role of online learning, even in structurally strong regions.

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However, open online courses do not always reach people without choice. Dropout rates regularly exceed 90 percent. As a result, they do not fulfill the promise of providing education for all.

This is where artificial intelligence could bridge the gap between access to high-quality face-to-face instruction and the lower-quality or unaccompanied alternatives: instead of merely following an online course, an AI tutor can provide personalized support to each participant.

AI tutor learns in real-time and personalizes learning content

Researchers from the University of Bath, the Quebec AI Institute and learning startup Korbit show in a new study that AI tutors could transform online learning. The team recruited nearly 200 employees from a Vietnamese company who had no prior knowledge of data science.

Participants went through three different courses in data science: one group learned via a traditional online learning platform, a second group learned via the AI-powered Korbit platform, and a third group learned via a Korbit variant without an AI tutor.

In the study, the researchers compared three different systems. Korbit relies on the AI tutor. | Image: St-Hilaire et al.

Korbit relies on a range of AI models and methods, including language models and reinforcement learning, for a personalized learning experience. The AI tutor learns in real-time by interacting with the students and automatically adapts content and learning activities. These include video lessons, Socratic lessons, interactive problem-solving exercises, code assignments, and project-based learning.

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The AI tutor reacts to incorrect answers with pedagogical interventions, for example by giving supplementary hints, explaining certain facts in more detail, visualizing them in diagrams or repeating learned content in a quiz.

AI Tutor leads to more knowledge and completions

The results of Korbit’s AI Tutor are impressive: the researchers observed a significant increase in learning outcomes, with Korbit users achieving 2 to 2.5 times higher learning gains than users of platforms without an AI Tutor.

Completion rates also increased significantly, with 40.9 percent completing the course on Korbit, compared to only 18.5 percent completing the course on some other platform.

The study is evidence of the impact that a personalized, active, AI-powered learning system based on problem-solving exercises and personalized feedback can achieve, the researchers said.

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If such AI-powered learning experiences can be made available to millions of learners around the world, the scientists say, it will go a long way toward making education accessible to all, in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The Korbit learning platform is available at korbit.ai.

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Max is managing editor at THE DECODER. As a trained philosopher, he deals with consciousness, AI, and the question of whether machines can really think or just pretend to.
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