France is bringing artificial intelligence to schools. What will Switzerland do?

Positive aspects

What to think of such a system? Contacted by The weather, Viridiana Marc, deputy general secretary of the Intercantonal Conference on Public Education of Francophone Switzerland and Ticino, believes that “it has the advantage of offering a support and monitoring response to student learning in a country where classes are overcrowded and where the teacher undoubtedly strives to provide well-targeted help to all of its students. The system ofadaptive learning It’s not new and some devices already exist, but we can hope that the AI ​​used here can help better meet students’ needs.

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But be careful, continues Viridiana Marc, “we can also criticize a certain loss of latitude on the part of the teacher in the choice and way of approaching certain learning: this system certainly offers different paths, but the approach runs the risk of being relatively recurrent and if there is An asset of the class are the interactions and dynamics that good teaching can produce. These interactions with the teacher and between young people are rich and facilitate memorization. Furthermore, they are part of the learning process of coexistence and cannot be replaced by a digital system.”

Platforms considered

The expert also highlights the difficulty of motivating young people and making them autonomous in their work. But, continues Viridiana Marc, “the digital medium can, however, be an emulator, in the initial stages, without a doubt, but we will have to see in the long term…”

Have similar projects been launched in Switzerland? “As far as I know, there is no identical project at national or cantonal level to train students’ knowledge, but different exercisers (without an AI system) are used to train students’ knowledge”, responds the manager. However, platforms have been developed to support young people in monitoring and developing their skills for professional training at intercantonal and national level. For compulsory education, it is ultimately planned to have a platform for students from French-speaking Switzerland: in a complete conceptualization, the question of having such tools will naturally arise.

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AI is also starting to be used in the private sector. The company Magma Learning, based in Lausanne, already collaborates with the Ecole Ardévaz in Sion, the Collège Champittet in Pully, the Ecole supérieure de la santé in Lausanne and the Collège de Gambach in Fribourg. “Based on teaching materials from these schools, our AI was able to generate thousands of microlearning content in different formats, such as multiple choice questions. Based on daily interactions with students, our personal tutor gradually develops a model of knowledge for each of them, thanks to the neural networks developed by our team, in collaboration with EPFL”, says Maxime Gabella, director of Magma Learning. According to him, his “AI tutor complements the classes and the consolidation of knowledge he brings makes interactions between students and teachers even more interesting and fruitful”.

Sovereign systems?

In the public sector, Viridiana Marc finally draws attention to the nature of the software itself: “The digital education that is being implemented aims at a digital culture and citizenship that should allow us to think about the conditions of use that these systems impose. We must know how to stand out from these when they demand personal data or develop sovereign systems in Switzerland: this will happen very soon, without a doubt.”

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Finally, note that we learned at the beginning of December that AI will appear next spring in schools in the city of Zug. Students will learn how to use it wisely, especially through an online platform. The city launched the project, worth 30,000 francs, in collaboration with the universities of education in Zug and Lucerne. First, teachers will develop an approach to the subject and define the rules for using AI. They will then prepare and implement teaching hours from March 2024. Artificial intelligence will not become a branch of teaching in itself. It will be used as a teaching method among others.

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