Education as a sector has proven stubbornly resistant to change. Despite significant progress in technology, classroom instruction remains largely unchanged from decades ago. While students have rapidly adopted social media, online collaboration and learning tools are poorly utilized in most courses. While the consumerization of other slow-to-change sectors such as healthcare is in full swing, educational technology systems remain cumbersome to use and are far from the ease of use and embedded customer focus seen in online leaders such as Amazon and Netflix. The big data and analytics revolution is sweeping multiple sectors, yet education operates in an environment characterized by poor data and the rare use of analytical tools. It is no surprise that educational institutions today are under pressure to both improve the effectiveness of learning outcomes and to provide more personalized learning delivery in a cost effective manner.
The debate on Artificial Intelligence (AI) is characterized by hyperbole and hysteria. The hyperbole is due to two effects: first, the promotion of AI by self-interested investors. It can be termed the “Google-effect,” after its CEO Sundar Pichai, who declared AI to be “probably the most important thing humanity has ever worked on.” He would say that. Second, the promotion of AI by tech-evangelists as a solution to humanity’s fundamental problems, even death. It can be termed the “Singularity-effect,” after Ray Kurzweil, who believes AI will cause a “Singularity” by 2045.