Digital challenges around access to and use of emerging technologies.

AI and Education

On January 21, a seminar on the use and applications of AI in education, organized by Fundación Caja Navarra and Jakiunde, Zientzia, Arte eta Letren Akademia, took place at Civican in Pamplona.

The guest speakers, María Beunza, CEO of HumanAI and president of the Innovactoras Association, and Lula de León, CEO and founding partner of Leemons, addressed from different perspectives the potential of artificial intelligence to transform education. The moderator, Nora Alonso – PhD in Biology – led the panel by posing key questions that triggered an interesting conversation.

The central axis of the conversation revolved around the need for innovation in education and learning processes in the digital era. Practical examples of how AI is already influencing these processes and its impact at the social, educational and labor level were discussed.

Evaluation and Development of Social-Emotional Competencies in Education

“Our education models are manifestly improvable in terms of social-emotional competencies where are we in those models and how can AI help us if at all?”

En relación, María destacó la capacidad de la IA para evaluar las competencias socioemocionales, resaltando su importancia en el desarrollo cognitivo y el bienestar mental de los estudiantes, y abordando la necesidad del bienestar socioemocional para un óptimo proceso de aprendizaje. A su vez, destacó el papel crucial que juegan los coordinadores de bienestar emocional en los centros educativos, tal como lo estipula la ley actualmente. Beunza explicó cómo la IA de Human AI tech – en particular desde la psicolingüística – puede analizar textos para evaluar las competencias socioemocionales de los alumnos, proporcionando una visión más completa y objetiva que los métodos tradicionales. 

In relation, Maria highlighted the ability of AI to assess social-emotional competencies, highlighting their importance in the cognitive development and mental well-being of students, and addressing the need for social-emotional well-being for an optimal learning process. In turn, she highlighted the crucial role played by emotional well-being coordinators in educational centers, as currently stipulated by law. Beunza explained how Human AI tech – particularly from psycholinguistics – can analyze texts to assess students’ social-emotional competencies, providing a more complete and objective view than traditional methods.

“What we do is thanks to AI, but above all psycholinguistics. We express ourselves by showing our personality and how we are. AI analyzes texts on any subject, as long as they are in natural language, and once the text is there – with a sufficient length of 800 words – we give it the button and the socioemotional competencies of that person appear.”

AI’s ability to analyze large amounts of data also allows conclusions to be drawn at both the individual and group level, making it easier to adapt educational strategies. Teachers can use this information to better understand the individual needs of their students and make informed decisions in the classroom in order to develop strategies and improve their emotional well-being.

Personalisation in education

“How could we make it so that in educational settings, in classrooms – which because of or thanks to covid have been forced to introduce technology to digitize certain processes – we can actually start collecting information in a benign way to propose alternatives to the teacher?

Lula de León highlighted the importance of personalisation in education, comparing it to the way online advertising sources and personalizes offers for each customer. She highlighted the current lack of meaningful data collection on students in the classroom, because while there is an abundance of data in other areas, such as purchasing preferences or browsing histories, there is a shortage of relevant information to improve education and personal development of students. In this way, technology-enabled classroom data collection would be tailored to the educational content and individual needs of students, helping them learn more effectively and improve their skills.

The implementation of AI in the classroom and the adoption of these new technologies would therefore be a channel for addressing the diversity and personalisation of students in the classroom: “one teacher has a diversity of 30 people, with 30 ways of learning, 30 difficulties, 30 home situations and 30 emotional moments.” Lula described how his platform, Leemons, seeks to fill this gap by collecting data on student interactions in the classroom. This information is used to provide feedback to teachers, allowing them to intervene in a more effective and personalized way in the educational process. The potential of AI to empower teachers by providing them with detailed information about their students’ progress and needs was highlighted.

“We believe in this AI that gives superpowers to the people who are going to use them, teachers who are going to receive information from a classroom: this student looks like he is going to drop out, that he is disconnecting, that he has a different relationship with his classmates… all that information that teachers know by skin, to be able to show them with indicators and allow the teacher to act more quickly when there are more risks, is the vocation of our project; and from there has the basis to provide this data – anonymous – freely and openly, to companies like Maria’s that are researching and working on it and suddenly a Cluster gives you information, without testing, in a natural way, with interactions that are not controlled, not monitored at all, because they are not being monitored, there are no changes in this interaction, it is the natural interaction between people, it is gold”.

The role of ethics and critical thinking in the development of educational AI.

A recurring theme throughout the colloquium was the ethics in the development and use of AI in education. Beúnza emphasized the importance of addressing the ethical biases and risks associated with AI, noting that the responsibility lies with both the designers and the users of this technology; it is not so much the tool itself, but the hand that designs that tool. He stressed the need for careful oversight during the design and training of algorithms to ensure their fairness and objectivity, while advocating an approach that respects the privacy of student data. “We work with anonymized data, we never know who is who, we know that there is a person with these capabilities and with this age, this is what we know, plus we work with supervised training.

At the same time, the incorrect use of AI by students and the possibility of undermining their capabilities by substituting and performing tasks that correspond to the students themselves in their cognitive development was put on the table. Both agreed that AI can be, and is, a useful tool to supplement learning, as long as it is used ethically and responsibly. Students can benefit from AI to deepen their learning, enhance their skills, and develop abilities such as asking meaningful and critical questions.

“We’ve been validating for many years that students know how to give the right answers; and we’re facing a world where asking the right questions is what counts.”

Lula de León

Implementation training

Artificial intelligence (AI) offers enormous possibilities for improving the quality and efficiency of education, however its implementation is not without challenges, especially in terms of adapting the educational system and teacher training.

The key to harnessing the potential of AI in education is to integrate it appropriately into the educational context, taking into account the needs and objectives of each level, area and teaching modality. This integration must start from the classroom, where students show a rapid ability to learn about new technologies. However, teachers face several obstacles to incorporate AI into their teaching practice, such as lack of resources, limited specific training and the rigidity of curricula and educational regulations. Therefore, it is necessary for ministries of education and competent authorities to facilitate access to and use of AI in schools, as well as to promote the updating and pedagogical innovation of teachers.

Continuous and quality training is the main support they need to integrate AI into education. This training should cover technical as well as ethical, social and didactic aspects of AI, and should encourage the development of digital competencies and critical and creative thinking in both teachers and students.

“Training, facing the fearless and working together” Lula bets. For her part, María affirms that “you cannot change the world without knowing it”, so at the very least you have to get close to it and get involved, you have to get involved even if it is only to criticize, but you have to get involved because we cannot be on the sidelines, we have to lead by example. In the case of teachers, at least you have to be knowledgeable about what for and how to use it – I think that effectively as Lula says – this amplifies our capabilities, what more do we all want than to have better information to decide, to make fewer mistakes, to project, to program, to act?”