The National AI Education Lab for innovative products in the field of artificial intelligence will conduct research on smart digital education innovation. Today, October 6, the lab at Radboud University officially opens.
The use of intelligent technologies in the classroom has increased dramatically in recent years. To exploit opportunities and prevent undesirable effects, the National AI Education Lab (Nolai) has now been established. The Radboud University is the principal leader, but several universities, colleges, school boards and entrepreneurs are involved.
The National Growth Fund has provided €80 million for the development of the NoIai. “There are two main areas within the lab,” says Inge Molenaar, director of the Nolai and associate professor at Radboud University’s Behavioural Science Institute (BSI). “We will work with the educational field to develop programs as well as conduct scientific research.”
“Until now, the market has mainly determined what programs are used in the classroom. They offer products and educational institutions buy them without really making their own choices about what they consider important for their students,” says Molenaar. “We are now going to look at what the needs of education are. What would they like to see and use? There is also room for technical improvement. A program can indicate just fine whether a student’s answer is right or wrong, but it’s a lot harder to give proper feedback to the student about what’s going wrong.”
Adaptive learning tools such as Snappet, Gynzy or Oefenweb certainly have added value and are already widely used in the classroom. Says Miller: “The teacher will not be replaced by a computer program in the future either, but using more AI as a learning tool is inevitable. When homeschooling started because of corona, many parents were amazed by all the possibilities that are already available. But, of course, it has to be done responsibly. For example, do you want a teacher to be able to see how long and at what time your child worked on an assignment?”
Impact in the classroom
Therefore, in addition to developing the programs, scientific research is being conducted on the impact of AI in education. This is done both at the pedagogical/didactic level, as well as in the areas of ethics and privacy. This involves questions such as: what kind of regulations are needed (internationally) and how do you make sure a program gives the right feedback to the student? What kind of information can or cannot be stored, and how can you ensure that all students benefit from developments?
“Our research focuses on the opportunities presented by technology,” Molenaar says. “You can give students more insight into their own learning. Teachers can have more time and space to guide students personally. Also, the smart use of AI can contribute to the major educational issues of our time such as opportunity inequality and workload.”
During the Nolai’s kick-off meeting, co-creation discussions were held and information was gathered about the requirements for programs. “Recently, we have been working hard to set up the Nolai, and now we are really getting started,” Molenaar said. The Nolai has received funding for 10 years and is unique in its set-up within Europe. “In the near future there will be regulations at the European level for AI in education and the Nolai will certainly play a role in that.”