The peculiar coexistence of the ‘edtech’ business with AI

Article published by Expansión

By: María José Gómez-Serranillos

Personalization of teaching is one of the significant advantages of using artificial intelligence in the classroom. However, this use also entails risks, such as excessive delegation of training tasks to technology.

The platform for the creation of tailor-made experiences

Odilo, a company led and founded by Rodrigo Rodriguez in 2012, is focused on digital education so that any organization can create its own learning ecosystem. Odilo offers its users unlimited access to the world’s largest catalog of multi-format educational content and the ability to create all kinds of learning experiences without restrictions. More than 9,100 organizations in over 54 countries have already created these learning ecosystems, which provide more than 170 million people with access to learning.

The company has content agreements with more than 7,300 providers of digital educational content in all formats: courses, interactive applications, videos, podcasts, newspapers, magazines, audiobooks, books… This variety of options and resources allows the company to personalize teaching to the maximum, which is one of AI’s significant advantages.
“Odilo’s algorithms allow us to identify the needs and profile, by age, of the students and offer them specific and tailored content,” explains Ainhoa Marcos, Vice President of Education at the Company. “For example, if a student is at a stage of reading comprehension and is interested in the marine habitat of whales, we will offer content related to that topic. Two years ago Odilo, popularly known as the ‘Netflix of education’, starred in the largest financing round in an ‘edtech’ in Spain: 60 million euros in an operation led by the ‘growth capital’ firm Bregal Milestone, in which Swanlaab Venture Factory, CDTI, Endeavor Catalyst, Kibo Ventures and JME Ventures also participated.

“AI must be introduced to students intelligently in their daily lives.” This message from Lula de León, co-founder of the tech company Leemons, indicates the guidelines that should guide teachers and families when it comes to using AI in education, especially in the earliest stages of schoolchildren.
As in so many other areas, the arrival of AI in education is an undeniable fact. This technology is opening up a whole world of possibilities for changing the classical methods of student learning and, in turn, offering teachers innovative tools for more personalized and efficient teaching based on the needs of each child. With AI content and educational resources, resources can be tailored to each student’s different student profiles and abilities.
However, the benefits of this technology in education do not come alone. They come with risks or threats that must be detected and curbed not to jeopardize an adequate level of teaching and students’ understanding of each subject.

Detecting school failure
An example of the benefits of using AI in the classroom can be found in the technology developed by a team of researchers at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC). This system is based on AI algorithms that allow daily detection of students at risk of failing and that, in addition, “is capable of automatically intervening in an early way with personalized messages to the situation,” according to the UOC.
This continuous monitoring helps to shorten the time between the first signs of risk and the system’s intervention to prevent the student from dropping a subject.
AI focused on improving the learner’s understanding of the subject understanding of subjects is one of the great benefits for Sonia Fernández, a partner at Kibo Ventures, a fund with several investments in tech firms. “We are how generative AI is changing different business models and how it will impact business models and how it will impact the various ways of performing tasks in the future. It will be necessary for young people, rather than memorizing, to learn to think, discern, look at the information presented, see ways to contrast it, and form their judgment. We will see how the classes will move in this direction.
The personalization that AI in each student’s learning is an exciting issue for the Kibo Ventures investor: “Education will take on models that will combine face-to-face learning with knowledge acquisition in an individual and digital way.
Artificial intelligence will enable much more individualized learning for each student.
Another exciting benefit for Guillem García Brustenga, professor at the UOC, is “the help of AI for the professor the teacher by providing suggestions or comments on the design of different subjects, or facilitating the design of the different subjects, or facilitating learning objectives when preparing course evaluations.
The creation of content of all kinds is of all kinds is another advantage of AI, “and here the possibilities are endless, the UOC professor points out. Carlos Martínez, global director of AI and big data solutions and services data solutions and services at Telefónica Tech, stresses that “the personalization of AI in the classroom, the traditional paradigm of education, allowing children to have more choices and children to have more choices and more attention can be paid to those who are slower learners and those who are learning, as well as those with more interest and capabilities. You can analyze the evolution of each student and see how they are progressing.”
Generative AI also offers more remarkable universality of education, adds the Telefónica executive, “especially to reach areas in developing countries.” This way, these areas can have the same content as an elite school at a lower cost. But for this to happen, Martínez insists, “there has to be a change in the mentality and culture of teachers to apply these innovations”.
At Bolsa Social, the educational projects are analyzed and evaluated in terms of their impact. This is the guiding principle behind the fund’s investments in start-ups, whose portfolio includes cases such as Leemons. “The AI educational projects we invest in must provide answers to real problems and must have the differential value of improving student learning results. These two aspects represent two major benefits of artificial intelligence for our team,” explains Eduardo Baruque, the fund’s investment director.

The Bolsa Social investor emphasizes that AI also contributes to education by eliminating barriers to entry, making education more accessible to students.

Another great benefit offered by tech such as 4Geeks Academy, a digital programming training school, is the resolution of doubts quickly and automatically. Víctor Gómez, CEO of the platform, points out that they have an artificial intelligence mentor. “When the student gets stuck in an activity, he can ask questions to a GPT Chat, an expert in teaching programming. This gives them an enormous speed of response and very high quality.

Risks and threats
All the experts agree that AI should be a tool to help facilitate and streamline teacher tasks. But the human touch will always be necessary.
“AI should never be used as a substitute,” insists García Brustenga. If this guideline is not followed, this is the leading risk in the classroom. “The main one is an excessive delegation of the teacher’s functions to the AI, which can lead to a loss of the quality standards of the subjects,” insists García Brustenga.

The UOC professor speaks of “a perverse situation” that could be reached with AI: “The technology designs the activity that should have been done by the teacher, and the student solves the task with AI”.
For Sonia Fernandez, “one of the dangers may come from tools that do not focus on developing soft skills, such as communication skills. Group interaction will continue to be key and, in this sense, models focused purely on the digital platform must take these aspects into account to provide quality teaching”.
One risk that should not be overlooked is related to data and privacy. As
Eduardo Baruque reminds us: “We must be very clear about the rules and regulations on the use of data, especially those related to the use of data, especially those related to minors”.
The high sophistication of today’s tools for creating avatars or replicating voices poses another danger for García Brustenga: “This can give rise to disinformation or the impersonation of a person’s identity,” he says. The integration of AI in the process of content creation may also call into question how intellectual property is applied.

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