How Is Machine Learning Changing Education?

By Megan R. Nichols

Artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer science fiction, and it may be more abundant than you realize. AI already powers things from Netflix recommendations to smart speakers to autopilot in airplanes, and it’s only going to grow from here.

More companies are beginning to take advantage of this technology, as AI adoption rose 270% in just four years. Soon we’ll see this technology used across all industries.

One promising area for machine learning is in human education. Teaching is a vital yet complex profession. Discerning each student’s educational needs can be a complex challenge, and schools may not always have the ability to meet it. AI can help.

Machine learning has a knack for solving complicated problems that have proved too difficult for humans. This problem-solving ability can find ways to improve education for students of all ages and skill levels.

Personalized Learning

One of the most substantial challenges facing educators is that different students require different teaching strategies. Some may grasp certain subjects at a different rate than others or respond better to another learning style. Teachers may not be able to determine the specific needs of each student — much less have the time to address them all.

Now, machine learning systems can analyze student performance to figure out what each child needs. They can then customize assignments and tests to fit their learning styles and abilities best. AI can also offer quick feedback, ensuring student success and allowing teachers to gain a better understanding of how to interact with their pupils.

These systems won’t replace teachers but rather can help them a great deal by designing lesson plans or serving as tutors for students who need extra help.

Predictive Analytics

Students at risk of failing or dropping out often display specific warning signs, and acting on these signs can significantly increase these students’ academic success. AI can pick up on these signals early. Machine learning can make sense of data in the present while also making predictions for the future. 

By looking at factors like performance and attendance, AI programs can alert teachers if a pupil is in danger of failing in the future. Teachers can then take the appropriate action to help the child succeed.

AI may even be able to predict standard testing scores. If a teacher sees a student may fail a portion of a future test, the instructor can provide them with additional aid. Ensuring success early in their education can help students achieve greater things later in life, such as getting into the university of their choice.

Improved Efficiency

One of AI’s most significant advantages in any field is the time savings it can provide. Education is no different. By taking control of the administrative side of things, machine learning programs can free teachers to spend more time with their students.

AI can analyze data from countless sources to predict what kind of schedule would work best for both students and instructors. Classes that kids tend to have trouble with can take place at a time of day when they are more alert. Similarly, an optimized schedule could let teachers work in a manner most comfortable to them, leading to a higher quality of work.

Machine learning could also manage tasks such as setting up appointments between students and tutors or other staff. These systems could even handle classroom management. By performing administrative duties, AI will increase the efficiency of these tasks as well as allow teachers to focus on other aspects of education.


Machines have graded multiple-choice exams for years. Now, with machine learning, they could assess things as complicated as essays as well. Some school systems have already begun to use AI in grading standardized tests. While this technology may not be perfect yet, it shows promise.

Computers grade quickly — and they can do so without bias. No human is entirely impartial. Subconscious biases affect even the best of teachers, and the only way to avoid this altogether is with grader incapable of preference.

Further, with less grading to do, teachers will have more time to spend teaching and interacting with their students. Face-to-face interaction is often vital to student learning, and AI can ensure students are receiving it.

Changing the Face of Education for Good

With so many recent advances in machine learning affecting the educational sector, it’s clear the technology is here to stay. Fortunately, AI and similar technologies show promise in freeing up teachers’ time, providing students with more personalized learning opportunities and otherwise improving education for the better.

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