Artificial intelligence and data technologies have huge potential to help transform the educational model and enhance the teaching and learning process while also ensuring that Catalan is more widely used online and in everyday life in society.

This is the conclusion of the ‘White Paper on Artificial Intelligence applied to Education and to the Language’ sponsored by the Centre of Innovation for Data Tech and Artificial Intelligence (CIDAI) as part of Catalonia’s Artificial Intelligence Strategy, Catalonia.AI.

The publication, which has been drawn up by education and technology experts from the IDEAI-UPC group, Eurecat and the Catalan Government’s Ministries of Education and Culture with the invaluable input of around twenty industry professionals, identifies actions to promote the uptake of AI in the education sector.

“This White Paper covers the range of opportunities opened up by data-driven technologies and AI for transforming the education and language sectors,” argues Lluís Juncà i Pujol, Director General for Innovation, Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship in the Government of Catalonia. “It will be an extremely useful tool for analysing AI’s applicability in addressing the key short- and medium-term challenges in these areas.”

”AI is much more than just ChatGPT and GenIA (Generative Artificial Intelligence),” adds Jordi Serarols, Deputy Director General for Research and Digital Culture in the Government of Catalonia. “We need to leverage it to enhance our students’ learning, the work done by teachers and decision-making in educational policy by personalising learning, making progress in assessment and spotting patterns which enable us to plan improvement measures.”

In this respect, Joan Mas, director of CIDAI and head of Eurecat’s Digital Area, points out that the white paper “unpacks the impact of artificial intelligence and data in education, a sector which is at a crucial juncture in Catalonia, to drive their inclusion in the educational setting while also exploring opportunities for their applications in Catalan to enable the language to gain ground in the digital realm.”

To this end “we have brought together the expertise and opinions of a committee of experts who reflect the sector’s entire value chain and are drawn from government, research and technology centres, academia and business along with the advice of CIDAI’s member organisations.”

“Artificial intelligence techniques have enormous potential to make teaching processes more flexible and enable people to raise their learning levels,” argues Dr Karina Gibert, director of the IDEAI-UPC research centre. Plus “AI can be an outstanding ally in enhancing the presence of our language in the digital environment.”

The document pinpoints technology trends such as personalisation, gamification and immersion tools to enhance the educational experience along with online, hybrid, continuous, competency-based and active training capabilities to meet the main challenges facing the education sector. They include harnessing technology as a tool for education, tailoring the teaching model to the needs of the future, cutting school dropout rates, rolling out assessment strategies, spotting fraud resulting from the use of tools such as ChatGPT and ensuring data privacy and security.

The white paper suggests that AI can be a transformative factor in education as long as it is used to support the teaching process. In terms of the classroom setting, these technologies enable personalised education, teamwork, identifying learning difficulties and developing adaptive material.

For students, these tools support scheduling with assistants and reminders and offer smart tutoring systems or interactive and immersive learning through augmented reality and virtual simulation environments. For teachers, they furnish solutions for organisational support, automating repetitive tasks and generating attractive educational content coupled with student follow-up.

Finally, data and AI technologies include applications for school management and analytical tools for decision-making while they can also enhance educational research and help prevent school failure.

Overall, the recommendation to ensure their inclusion in the sector is to foster training and awareness of AI’s benefits and risks across the educational ecosystem, including teachers, heads, managers, administrative staff, students and families, draw up guidelines which set out schools’ strategies anchored in the type of student and training, and enable assessment and quantification of the real impact of rolling out AI-based solutions.

The paper also points to the need to build user confidence in these technologies; foster public-private research and innovation and partnerships for sharing education data; align rules and regulations across tiers of government; and set up testing environments to validate available solutions.

The white paper is addressed to the Government of Catalonia, which is responsible for education, to the educational community, businesses in the eduTech industry, which accounts for 1.2 per cent of Catalonia’s GDP with a turnover of €2.76 billion, and society as a whole.