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Using AI to make Malaysian citizens adaptive learners

The ability of artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse human behaviour across different age groups must be used to identify peoples’ learning processes in order to deliver the best educational services for them, a report noted.

For decades, conventional learning processes have been used. These processes rely heavily on a standardised education system that mostly grades learners on the basis of age.

This system is founded upon the theory that there is one set path and process of the cognitive development of a normal person which can be identified and differentiated based on chronological age, particularly during early childhood.

However, even within the same age group, individuals tend to differ in their levels of cognitive development and learning capacity, and thus may have different needs in learning.

Today, artificial intelligence offers an opportunity, to cater to these differences and it is known as “adaptive learning”. Adaptive learning provides more than just tailored learning resources to learners. It uses an algorithm to process the interaction between the learner, the educator and the computer.

This tailored-learning process requires the learner to be collaborative rather than a passive information receiver. Concurrently, the system enables educators to monitor the progress of learners via continuous formative assessment. This is because every interaction is tracked in real-time.

An effective adaptive learning system retains the key component of the learning process, namely the presence of the educator. A real teacher during the class hour is indeed relevant, and in fact, integral to the learning process. A teacher with sufficient knowledge and experience can properly guide the student towards a better understanding and prevent him from making mistakes.

Long before the conventional education system and adaptive learning technology, a personalised learning system has been a practice in traditional Islamic pedagogy. In general, a personalised learning system assumes that each learner is unique and therefore has different needs.

The teacher, a constant source of reference, provides the learners with the knowledge they need. In a traditional setting, the learners should master a certain level of knowledge in order to move forward in their curriculum.

Study circles enhance learners’ understanding through discussion and exchange of knowledge as it creates an active engagement between the learners and the teacher. Such an active learning atmosphere in the Islamic education tradition can also be found in the current adaptive learning environment but with the additional help of technology which facilitates teachers in monitoring development and provides the student with tailored materials that suit their needs.

It is important to note that this new technology is not intended to pit traditional and conventional education systems against adaptive learning. Traditional and conventional learning systems have been providing people with the necessary education and skills for decades. The success of these systems has enabled us to progress into the world today.

As technology advances in the age of Industrial Revolution 4.0, adaptive learning tools are widely available and can be utilised as a complementary or supportive component of our current education system to help teachers in their teaching and students in their learning so that it will be more interactive, interesting and efficient.

In addition to the adaptive learning system, Malaysia will need the citizens themselves to be adaptive learners. They must be taught and trained to be more adaptive to changes in their surroundings that encompass all aspects of their lives.

Adaptive learners equipped with survival skills and a flexible mindset are able to lead others, particularly when placed in positions of leadership.

It is advised that people, especially leaders, need to be capable of changing their mindsets to take the appropriate ‘adaptive action’ in line with the demands of Industry 4.0. Thus, the need to be adaptable and to keep pace with an era marked by an accelerated rate of change is imperative.

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