The World Talks About the Era of AI+Education at WAIC 2019
COVID-19 and China
EO team at the Education Technology and Artificial Intelligence forum. Image Credit: EO Company.

The World Artificial Intelligence Conference was held in Shanghai from August 29-31. The event was organized by the Shanghai Municipal Government, the State Council, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the National Internet Information Office, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chinese Academy of Engineering and other ministries.

Under the main event, the Education Technology and Artificial Intelligence forum was organized by EO Company, the sister publication of EqualOcean and Shanghai Artificial Intelligence Society. The theme of the forum was “AI leads the era and education creates the future.” The forum had two main topics: training talents with AI and cultivate the talents needed in the AI era.

The guest list and the attendees of the forum added up to around 2000 which included a large number of scientists, entrepreneurs and investors focused on AI+education both foreign and domestic. 

AI is changing education

As a technology and industrial innovation service platform dedicated to promoting new technologies, and new ideas, we have been paying attention to the development of artificial intelligence technology in various industries. In the education industry, artificial intelligence is helping education to become personalized, and bringing about changes in the entire process of education.

Facing the new trend of AI+education, a large number of influential people expressed their views at the forum:

Academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and dean of the School of Software at East China Normal University Mr. He Jifeng (何积丰), said that artificial intelligence can play a role in three aspects of basic education.

Intelligent teaching tools. Mainly relying on the combination of artificial intelligence and educational methodology, based on AI, knowledge map, speech semantic recognition, visual recognition, personalized recommendation etc.;

Intelligent curriculum system. Mainly the curriculum system + teaching system, relying on AI technology are programming education, robot education, maker education;

Intelligent teaching environment. The Internet of Things+ intelligent system combines teaching, research, management and campus life in an integrated environment with work and life on campus.

Zhang Hao (张浩), the Director of the Engineering Center of The Ministry of Enterprise Digital Technology Education, Director of Shanghai’s Association for Artificial Intelligence and a professor and doctoral supervisor at Tongji University, believes that “Data-driven smart education focuses on several factors. On one hand, it is a personalized for the teacher. In the past, teachers were guessing, and now they can use data assistance to be more accurate and efficient. On the other hand, it personalizes studying for the students. The former students always listened. Now they can be assisted by personalized data, and they can learn accordingly, and then establish a personalized learning model. At present, big data is mainly being used to promote personalized education.”

Yang Linfeng (杨临风), co-founder and CEO of Onion Mathematics also shared his views on the topic: "now artificial intelligence education is booming, but the change is currently mainly in the auxiliary stage, and it takes time to reach the core of education.” He said that if artificial intelligence is really playing a role in the core of education, the direction is that adaptive learning of AI empowerment can really help students achieve self-learning.

He further added “Self-learning does not mean that teachers are not needed at all. The role of teachers should be changed. Teachers are more about guiding students through the whole process, including leading students to study more advanced cognitive thinking goals, such as evaluation, analysis, and creation. But knowing at the level of understanding, simple application, many processes can be implemented through adaptive learning.”

As the first domestic adaptive learning engine based on the advanced algorithm the event was a perfect match for the Squirrel AI. Mr. Zhou Wei (周伟) the co-founder of the company shared his thoughts. He said, "technology can change education, but the essence of education must be the combination of online and offline real-life teachers and the Internet. In our learning center, the teacher is responsible for 30% of the teaching, the system is responsible for 70% of the teaching, the teacher focuses on ‘education’ In part, and the system focuses on the ‘teaching’”. 

About the revolution that AI will bring to education, he said, “Let students use fewer questions because they are more efficient. If you use the adaptive learning system for a long time, all the learning records are in the system, and the evaluation system can be used in the future. Bringing important references, education will become more transparent. In addition, letting each child truly master the learning ability and methods will reduce the frustration of each child and increase the sense of learning."

Jesse Hailong Shang (尚海龙), Managing Director of SenseTime Hong Kong, and also a Joint Managing Director of Education Business, mentioned that “AI education gives children the freedom to create and choose. AI education is a quality education, not only technology and tools. ” Instead of viewing AI as a technology, we must look at ideas, ways to behave, and values, he stressed. We need to change our experience and not just think of AI as a technology, In the future, no matter whether you become an algorithmist or not, he thinks everyone will use AI one way or the other in the future, which is very important.

Students are put in a standardized class. They are taught the same amount of content but it might not necessarily reflect every students interest. There are about 45-50 children per class in China. A standard class in Chinese public schools is 45 minutes long, so for example if they are studying English they really have no time to use the language. Technology is solving this problem by provinding students with digital content and after school applications to do their homework. 

Education has come a long way. In the past the only way one could learn things was by either you learn it from a teacher or from books. Now Studtents have a lot of ways to learn and the knowledge is not limited. Children these days have a lot more access to digital content.

    The combination of AI and education is still at a very early stage. The nect step would be the development of extended tutoring systems that allow indivisualized education

At the forum EO think tank released the “2019 Global Artificial Intelligence Education Industry Research Report”

Recently, UNESCO officially released the "Beijing Consensus - Artificial Intelligence and Education" document. The Document Initiative supports forward-looking research on cutting-edge issues related to the impact of emerging artificial intelligence development, and promotes the exploration of effective strategies and practices for using artificial intelligence to promote educational innovation. 

In this context, EO Think Tank scanned the global artificial intelligence education market, and released the "2019 Global Artificial Intelligence Education Industry Research Report" conducted by the team of Professor from the East China Normal University Examination and Evaluation Institute. The study of 204 artificial intelligence education enterprises in developed countries and regions found seven “secrets” in the industry.

1. China's artificial intelligence education company is leading the world in terms of development time, amount of financing and amount of capital investment;

2. There is a difference in the promotion of “artificial intelligence” between Chinese and foreign educational institutions. Chinese education companies are more concerned about the “artificial intelligence” label in publicity where as foreign educational companies are not;

3. The development of artificial intelligence education is affected by both the bottleneck of AI technology itself and the insufficient data available in the education industry;

4. After the subversion, artificial intelligence education will eventually return to teaching aids. The role of human teachers should not be forgotten;

5. Educational brands and technical service providers should be treated separately. Technology suppliers have natural advantages in the number of service brands, it is possible to accumulate more data to train algorithms, but the technology of brand self-research may be more adaptable to the personalization of a particular scenario; 

6. It is very important to cultivate the talents in the age of artificial intelligence, whether they grow the scientific research personnel under higher education or improve the quality of population in basic education stage;

7. STEAM education for young children in China has risen in the past five years, and it has been widely concerned by consumers for nearly three years. Compared with overseas, it is still in the early stage of development, so we believe that in STEAM education development, there are many Chinese companies that can learn from overseas.

Deco You (由天宇) the Vice present of EO Company and head of EO Intelligence believes there are two major problems when talking about technology and education.

First, what does technology mean to education?   

We have been pursuing a student-centered education model, hoping to better enable students to learn and grow. But in the thousands of years of history, we have achieved very low levels. However, the combination of artificial intelligence, Internet and big data is likely to transform the teacher-centered education model into a student-centered, personalized, and efficient education.

Second, what kind of talent is needed in the era of Artificial intelligence? 

New technologies are driving and influencing many fields to be fast and intelligent. How to cultivate talents suitable for this era is also a very important issue. It will definitely affect the competitiveness of a country or a region in the world.    

2019 AI+Education TOP 20 enterprise award winners

Under the general trend of AI to empower various industries, it is very important to select a potential and powerful innovative enterprise to establish a benchmark in the industry. At the forum, EO Company awarded the “2019 China AI+ Education Enterprise Top 20” awards. It took more than two months to select the award winners, and the results of the selection were finally produced through the application of enterprises/institutions, multi-dimensional assessment, and expert evaluation.  

This selection has comprehensively considered a number of factors, including: 1. the establishment time of the company should be more than 6 months, the accumulated financing amount should exceed CNY 100 million or the company is in its B or above round of financing; 2. the enterprise AI technology and R&D investment account for the total investment. An independent technology research and development team; 3. The company's business model should be clear, with rapid development, and a growing performance; 4. The company's product or service quality should be excellent, and has a certain market and media influence.

The map below shows the logos of the top 20 award winning companies
Note that the order is in the alphabetic (pinyin) order.

Closed Door Investment Links Capitalists and Innovative Enterprises

In parallel with the forum, there was closed-door meeting held for the first EO Education Innovation Project. As a sub-section of the “2019 World Artificial Intelligence Conference-Education Technology and Artificial Intelligence Forum”, this closed-door was hosted by EO Company and co-organized by Duojing Capital (多鲸资本) and EdBeta Fund (北塔资本协办), aiming to encourage educational enterprises to innovate. We aim to educate and innovate enterprises with advanced educational concepts and innovative teaching methods, and engage with capitals to inject fresh finance into the education industry.

A total of 14 educational innovation projects were selected at the closed door meeting including: Whiz Kids (小问号), Huoyouxi (猴有戏), Koala Know (考拉知道), Newline (新励成), Qiu Qiu huiben (球球绘本), Miaocode (妙小程), Heli edu (核力教育), Woobo, Xkbot (小卡机器人), Aiwei (爱维宝贝), Cedar Cove (雪松湾), VRSchool (微视酷), Xiaoyu Researcher (小鱼研究员),and 17 Career (一起求职).

Under the wave of artificial intelligence-driven industry transformation, the education industry will also usher in new changes especially in personalization, scale and efficiency. “The 2019 World Artificial Intelligence Conference-Education Technology and Artificial Intelligence Forum” stands in the industry perspective and contributes to the development of the education industry and promotes the development of education innovation.

Next, in the process of promoting education informationization and modernization, EO Company will continue to promote new technologies, new ideas and new policies into the education industry and serve the development of the Chinese education industry. 

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