“This alone saves me up to six hours per module. Since the template completion is automated, there is no human error involved," says Ian.
Ian is an applied mathematician and theoretical physicist, with doctorates in both fields. He did his undergraduate through Wits and Unisa and his postgraduate research at Johns Hopkins University and Moscow State University. He is also a professor associated with the Russian Academy of Science. Impressive, right?
“My passion for education in the sciences at universities spilled over to a love of seeing young adults prepared for a career in STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields during their secondary education, this eventually led me to Valenture Institute.”
We asked him a few questions about his work at Valenture as a Physics Learning Designer:
How can AI be used to develop educational courses, faster and more efficiently?
“One of the large time-consuming activities for a learning designer is the administration that goes into completing templates. My first application of machine learning to learning design, in general, was in automating the template completion process.
“This alone saves me up to six hours per module. Since the template completion is automated, there is no human error involved. These hours I can then dedicate to developing better quality content.
“I then extended my use of AI to the automatic generation of quiz questions. The AI generates sample questions from the content that I develop (i.e. the notes) and allows me to select the questions that I want to use rather than me spending the time to generate the questions myself.
“Similarly to above, this eliminates the possibility of human error both in the questions and the memos. This application saves me approximately three hours per quiz per module.
“Again, this is time that I can spend developing even better quality content.”
Could other learning designers easily incorporate what you've done into their course development, or do they need to be AI experts?
“The other learning designers could easily incorporate the platforms that I have developed and do not need to be AI experts at all. In fact, the platforms can be applied without the user even knowing that there is AI running in the background.
“The platforms are not yet ready for full deployment and would need further testing; however, there is no reason why any learning designer who is computer literate would not be able to also enjoy the benefits with their course development.”
What do you think are the main advantages for students when it comes to choosing online schools/courses like Valenture vs traditional schools?
“Online schools like Valenture Institute provide a sense of autonomy that young people today value - something that traditional schools cannot offer.
“Furthermore, online environments can capture data in real-time and employ this in the course content development and presentation far faster and more efficiently than traditional schools could.
“Online schools, such as Valenture Institute, speak directly to how young people today live lives that are integrated with technology rather than relying on methods that may no longer be relevant to a hyper-connected generation. Finally, online schools provide safety to students in terms of continuity of their education during lockdowns while maintaining a connection to their classmates.”
A lot of students are interested in AI, what advice could you give to those who want to pursue a career in this field?
“The best advice that I feel I could ever give a student is: do not underestimate the power of losing yourself in reading. There is an unimaginable wealth of knowledge and wisdom out there if you just take the time to look and indulge.
“If you focus on your education now while you are young and establish a solid, unshakeable foundation for yourself in Mathematics and the Sciences, the heights that you will be able to reach will be limited only by yourself.
“AI is an exciting field that is growing at an unimaginable rate, if you want to pursue a career in it, first focus on the foundations and cornerstones of learning. During their secondary education, students who are interested in AI need to take Mathematics and Physics as far as they can in their respective courses and any Computer Science-related course available.
“While they are at VI, I will happily open access to interaction with the AI to enhance their exposure.”
Ian has an open invitation to speak at the AI Expo Africa, the largest AI-focused conference on the African continent. It can be attended both in-person and virtually.