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Don’t fear AI, learn to use it well, says expert at SCRF 2024


During a panel discussion at the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF), experts highlighted the significant potential of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) in revolutionizing education.

The discussion, part of the festival’s agenda, was titled ‘Enhancing Private Education: Using Artificial Intelligence in Personalised Learning.’

Yasmine Al Rawi, a prominent AI researcher and trainer, emphasized that AI is not a threat to traditional educational institutions but a valuable tool that can augment the teaching process. “Artificial intelligence will not overshadow traditional centers of education like schools and universities. Instead, the technology will complement educators and help them deliver more impactful learning experiences,” Al Rawi explained.

Dr. Mania Suwaid, who moderated the session, facilitated a discussion where Al Rawi drew parallels between AI’s potential impact and historical technological breakthroughs by individuals like Alan Turing, who helped decrypt the Enigma cipher during WWII. Al Rawi stated, “Schools are not just for academic training but are arenas for developing soft skills and creativity. Our educational institutions should embed futuristic technologies in their everyday work to improve efficiencies. A teacher in a class of 30 may not be able to give equal attention to all students, but if we have AI-aided applications that can monitor students’ emotional responses while doing assignments and provide real-time assessment, it could be a game changer.”

Al Rawi elaborated on how AI tools could help educators better understand and support students, “This kind of technology could enable educators to better understand students’ struggles or ease with assignments, enhancing their ability to offer support even without direct supervision.”

The discussion also touched upon the ethical integration of AI in education, emphasizing the role of parents and teachers in guiding children to use such tools responsibly. Al Rawi likened the introduction of AI in education to the advent of television and the internet, stating, “The focus should be on guiding children to use these tools responsibly and ethically.”

Al Rawi also introduced Futurepedia, a platform that demonstrates the latest AI tools ranging from picture-to-text and text-to-video conversions to natural language processing, which could aid teachers in crafting innovative lesson plans for students from grades 1 through 12. Additionally, she highlighted local initiatives like the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa), which supports innovative startups, including those in education technology.

This insightful session underscored the UAE’s commitment to integrating AI across various sectors, including education, as part of its broader strategy to employ cutting-edge technology in enhancing societal functions.

The 15th edition of the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival continues at Expo Centre Sharjah until May 12, offering a rich program of activities and talks designed to engage children and adults.

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