I May Lose My Job To Skynet

Published by alvinauh on

Image result for robots teaching students

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One of my favorite research areas is the use of technology to improve the teaching and learning experience. Research a few years back would point to a limited set of tools that we could use to implement technology in the classroom. This has changed over the recent years.

Some research brought me to a very interesting paper on Turnitin. If you have been to university or college, chances are you would have heard of Turnitin before. It is a plagiarism checking software akin to cheetah-bot. It was the bane of many students’ academic existence and it was really accurate.

However, Turnitin can now do more than just check for plagiarism. It can also be used to improve the students’ writing ability through the use of machine learning.

Machine Learning

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Machine learning is the use of data to get machines to learn and predict outcomes. Many platforms over the years have started using machine learning as a way to improve their business. Netflix uses machine learning to help optimize their streaming services. Turnitin on the other hand uses machine learning to learn how you write. If it detects that your work is vastly different from how you normally write, it would alert your teacher to it.

Aside from that, Turnitin also uses machine learning to create your very own writing profile, detailing how you would conventionally write. With that many universities and colleges using Turnitin, I won’t be surprised if all the data from the students’ writing is used to make Turnitin more accurate. That being said, it can also use the students’ data to help improve their work over time.

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So you’ll probably be wondering why Turnitin is such a big deal. Well, its not unheard of for a software to grade exam questions that are objective or multiple choice. The thing is, Turnitin grades, assess and can be used to improve the students’ written work. As per the concept of machine learning, it won’t be long before platforms like Turnitin will be fed enough written essays to be very accurate. Perhaps, even more accurate than teachers.

While platforms like Turnitin will never claim to be able to replace teachers, but we are certainly getting there. In the past, it would be difficult for a teacher to teach a class of more than 50, not because of the teaching part but the grading part. Imagine teaching a class of a 100 students and having to grade their 700 word essays. If there is a deadline to grading the students, say, a week? The teacher would have to read 70,000 words within a span of a week. This would affect he reliability of the results. This however is not impossible with the use of Turnitin.

Thus, since it is possible to teach a larger class of students with Turnitin grading them, it won’t be long before less teachers are needed as a result of this.

So how can I beat Skynet?

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I am no Kyle Reese nor John Connor, but in this interesting future, there is not much that can be done but to make oneself indispensable. There are two ways to this. First, I could take up courses related to machine learning, learning how to build my own machine learning platform and implementing it. This may take awhile, but I’m sure would be worth it.

Alternatively, I could try becoming an expert in my field of second language education. Becoming an expert would increase my employment opportunities despite the attack of the machines. At this point, I am trying to do both of this in anticipation of a very interesting future. Thank you for hearing this rant of mine, I’ll be heading back to my study on Linear algebra in preparation to study machine learning.