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AI helps in knowing what you know, and what you should know!

The big 3 in on-line education are moving to capitalise on the data they acquire from people attending their on line courses. Image credit: Medium

When you were a small child attending school, and as you grew attending college, your teachers knew what you … knew as well as what you needed to learn to further your knowledge. It was no magic, of course. By seeing you all day long, listening to your questions, looking at the assignments and knowing what a student like you was required to know by the end of the school year it was quite straightforward to identify gaps and work for filling them.

Today, as knowledge is expanding faster than anybody can capture it, it is much more difficult to “size” a person knowledge and even more difficult to plan for an education “supplement” to fill gaps that will manifest as that person will face a new challenge on the job.

The mantra of continuous education simply does not work anymore, and we are realising this as we are now convinced that we need to invest on continuous education as an individual and as a company to keep their employees skill and knowledge up to date.

More and more students are taking on line courses. Professionals are also getting more and more interested in on line courses. Image credit: DVIDS

There has never been in the history of humankind so many courses available to increase one’s knowledge. The big 3 in on line Education (Coursera, Udacity and edX) offer free courses (Coursera has 3852 free cources as of January 4th 2019, edX has 2555 free courses) and various price level courses. There are over 100,000 on line courses available as of January 2019 and hundreds more are created each single day.

Some organisations, like EIT Digital (with its Professional School) and IEEE, (with its specific Education Initiatives) have a much smaller portfolio but it is more targeted and it is offered in a mixed on-line and face to face format.

Seen from the point of view of the professional the issue is how and what to choose. Seen from the point of a company the issue is to understand what kind of returns a given course generate. It is not an issue that continuous education is needed, the issue is what should be learnt and when it should be learnt.

Coursera has announced an AI powered tool to measure the knowledge acquired by attending a course, what knowledge gap exist and what would be the best way to fill it. This is very interesting and I bet it is just the first of a series of similar tools to support education paths and content selection.

I expect that in the next decade professionals, and companies, will grow sort of digital twins to mirror the available knowledge (at personal and company level) and will use this to evaluate the gap versus the needed knowledge. That will be the starting point to select the most appropriate education program and in the case of a company to plan the most effective education plan for their resources (both employees and … smart machines).

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.

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