iTalk2Learn at the Westminster Education Forum on June 9, 2015

Junaid Mubeen (Head of Research and Development at Whizz Education) delivered a short talk at the Westminster Education Forum Keynote Seminar: Using technology in education on June 9, 2015.

The talk focused on iTalk2Learn’s work in using artificial intelligence to replicate the behaviour of a human tutor. The audience included representatives from educational policy, research and practice.

Following Junaid’s talk, Dr Kaska Porayska Pomsta, Reader in Adaptive Technogies for Learning at partner LKL (and an advisor to our project), presented in the e-assessment strand identified at least three important points that are relevant to iTalk2learn.

First, she highlighted that Artificial Intelligence in Education offers a new way of thinking about education more generally and allows us to see it as a process of creation, co-creation and design of knowledge representations that can be tested without involving action in the real world rather than in terms of some fixed received wisdom. She highlighted this as an important feature of AI driven technologies, such as iTalk2Learn, because as such technologies offer educational practitioners with tools to think with before they have to take real action.

Second, Kaska pointed to the need for continuous involvement of educational practitioners in the process of design as well in the interpretation of data which is being generated through the use of technologies such as iTalk2Learn. This is because data without qualification is meaningless in education whereby teaching and learning is a transactional endeavour and as such it relies fundamentally on the context in which learning takes place. This is precisely the kind of thinking that the research we are conducting in iTalk2Learn adopts.

Lastly, Kaska pointed to the importance of equipping teachers with design thinking abilities which are of essence to enabling practitioners to change their involvement with technology-enhanced learning from that of consumers to that of creators. We agree with this view and apart from engaging teachers throughout the project with the design of Fractions Lab and iTalk2learn in general, as we are engaging more and more thinking about exploitation, we are now in the process of looking into ways that teachers can create their own tasks. As Kaska, emphasised it is only through this from-consumers-to-creators culture change that technology will serve education to the best effects.