Artificial examinations

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AI promises and threatens a lot in all aspects of our businesses and lives. In the education sector it is often heralded in very positive light, bringing the potential of truly personalized learning, the metaphorical breaking down of classroom walls, adaptive curricula and more.

What we do know in the education space is that any change takes time, new technologies are slow to take hold and making money (at least quickly) in ed-tech is bloody hard.

But are there parts of the education space that AI could seriously move quickly into and disrupt?

Could an AI based system identify plagiarism and effectively mark, compare and standardize formative tests and written work? Yes, it already can, seems to be the answer.

And, if it is yes, why do we still need summative exams? A pupil’s work over the course of their study could be continuously evaluated and intelligently marked, still producing a grade/level for them to move onto the next stage of their education. And, all without the effort, stress and expenditure of formal examinations.

In the UK alone, the cost of school level examinations is over £400M. Adding in revision, tutoring, and publisher revenues, creates a total market in the UK of over £3BN. A £3BN market that we don’t actually need, that AI could crush.

It would be a brave government that turns it’s back on the traditional system, but maybe some bravery is what is needed to save money, introduce a potentially more balanced, effective and stress free model for the future.

One day perhaps, every June, all those sports hall around the country can be full of relaxed, happy students enjoying a game of badminton instead of sitting in silent rows, their futures balanced on the next hour of their lives…

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