China has started a grand experiment in AI education. It could reshape how the world learns.
中国在人工智能教育方面开始了一项宏大的实验。它可能重塑世界的学习方式。
3927字
2019-08-11 21:09
69阅读
火星译课图片

Zhou Yi was terrible at math. He risked never getting into college. Then a company called Squirrel AI came to his middle school in Hangzhou, China, promising personalized tutoring. He had tried tutoring services before, but this one was different: instead of a human teacher, an AI algorithm would curate his lessons. The 13-year-old decided to give it a try. By the end of the semester, his test scores had risen from 50% to 62.5%. Two years later, he scored an 85% on his final middle school exam.

Zhou Yi 数学很差。他可能上不了大学。后来,一家名为Squirrel AI的公司来到他位于中国杭州的中学,承诺为他提供个性化辅导。他以前尝试过辅导服务,但这次不同:人工智能算法将代替人类教师来管理他的课程。13岁的他决定试一试。到学期末,他的考试成绩从50%上升到62.5%。两年后,他在中学期末考试中取得了85%的成绩。

“I used to think math was terrifying,” he says. “But through tutoring, I realized it really isn’t that hard. It helped me take the first step down a different path.”

“我曾经认为数学很可怕,”他说。“但通过辅导,我意识到这真的没有那么难。它帮助我在不同的道路上迈出了第一步。”

Sign up for The Algorithm — artificial intelligence, demystified

报名参加算法-人工智能,解密

Experts agree AI will be important in 21st-century education—but how? While academics have puzzled over best practices, China hasn’t waited around. In the last few years, the country’s investment in AI-enabled teaching and learning has exploded. Tech giants, startups, and education incumbents have all jumped in. Tens of millions of students now use some form of AI to learn—whether through extracurricular tutoring programs like Squirrel’s, through digital learning platforms like 17ZuoYe, or even in their main classrooms. It’s the world’s biggest experiment on AI in education, and no one can predict the outcome.

专家们一致认为,人工智能将在21世纪的教育中发挥重要作用——但如何发挥作用呢?尽管学术界对最佳实践感到困惑,但中国并没有坐以待毙。在过去的几年里,中国对人工智能教学的投资呈爆炸式增长。科技巨头、初创公司和教育巨头都纷纷加入。数以千万计的学生现在使用某种形式的人工智能来学习——无论是通过课外辅导项目,如Squirrel’s,还是通过数字学习平台,如17ZuoYe,甚至是在他们的主教室里。这是世界上最大的人工智能教育实验,没有人能预测结果。

Silicon Valley is also keenly interested. In a report in March, the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation identified AI as an educational tool worthy of investment. In his 2018 book Rewiring Education, John Couch, Apple’s vice president of education, lauded Squirrel AI. (A Chinese version of the book is coauthored by Squirrel’s founder, Derek Li.) Squirrel also opened a joint research lab with Carnegie Mellon University this year to study personalized learning at scale, then export it globally.

硅谷也对此非常感兴趣。在今年3月的一份报告中,陈-扎克伯格倡议(Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative)和比尔及梅林达•盖茨基金会(Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation)认定人工智能是一种值得投资的教育工具。苹果公司教育副总裁约翰·库奇(John Couch)在2018年出版的《重塑教育》(Rewiring Education)一书中对松鼠AI大加赞赏。(这本书的中文版由Squirrel的创始人Derek Li合著。)Squirrel今年还与卡内基梅隆大学(Carnegie Mellon University)建立了一个联合研究实验室,研究大规模的个性化学习,然后将其输出到全球。

But experts worry about the direction this rush to AI in education is taking. At best, they say, AI can help teachers foster their students’ interests and strengths. At worst, it could further entrench a global trend toward standardized learning and testing, leaving the next generation ill prepared to adapt in a rapidly changing world of work.

但专家们担心,这股教育领域的人工智能热潮将走向何方。他们表示,人工智能充其量只能帮助教师培养学生的兴趣和优势。在最坏的情况下,它可能会进一步巩固标准化学习和测试的全球趋势,让下一代无法准备好适应快速变化的工作世界。

As one of the largest AI education companies in China, Squirrel highlights this tension. And as one of the best-poised to spread overseas, it offers a window into how China’s experiments could shape the rest of the world.

作为中国最大的人工智能教育公司之一,Squirrel强调了这种紧张关系。作为最有可能向海外扩张的公司之一,它为我们提供了一个窗口,让我们了解中国的实验将如何塑造世界其他地区。

Noah Sheldon

诺亚·谢尔登

The learning center that Zhou attends, one of the first that Squirrel opened, occupies the second floor of an unassuming building on a busy commercial road in Hangzhou, a second-tier city in Zhejiang province. Company awards line the walls in the stairwell. Further in, large photographs of at least a dozen men are on display: half of them are Squirrel AI’s executives and the others are master teachers, a title bestowed on the best teachers in China, who help develop the company’s curriculum.

周参加的学习中心是松鼠开设的第一家学习中心之一,位于浙江省二线城市杭州一条繁忙商业道路上一幢不起眼的建筑的二层。公司的奖励沿着楼梯井的墙壁排列。此外,展出了至少12名男子的大幅照片:其中一半是Squirrel AI的高管,其余的是名师,这是授予帮助开发公司课程的中国最好教师的称号。

The school’s interior decorations are modest. The foyer is small and colorful with lime-green accents. Photos of smiling students hang along the corridor between six or so classrooms. Inside, faded decals of trees and simple mottos like “Be humble” enliven the walls. There are no whiteboards, projectors, or other equipment—just one table per room, meant for six to eight people.

学校的室内装饰很朴素。门厅很小,色彩丰富,以灰绿色为主色调。六个教室之间的走廊上挂着学生们微笑的照片。室内,褪色的树木贴花和简单的格言,如“谦虚”,活跃了墙壁。这里没有白板、投影仪或其他设备——每个房间只有一张桌子,可以容纳六到八个人。

The vehicle of instruction is the laptop. Students and teachers alike stare intently at screens. In one room, two students wear headsets, engrossed in an English tutoring session. In another, three students, including Zhou, take three separate math classes. They work out practice problems on pieces of paper before submitting their answers online. In each room, a teacher monitors the students through a real-time dashboard.

指令的载体是笔记本电脑。学生和老师都目不转睛地盯着屏幕。在一个房间里,两个学生戴着耳机,全神贯注地听英语辅导课。在另一项研究中,包括周在内的三名学生分别上了三节数学课。在网上提交答案之前,他们先在纸上做练习题。在每个房间里,老师通过一个实时仪表盘监控学生。

At different points, both teachers notice something on their screen that prompts them to walk over and kneel by a student’s chair. They speak in hushed tones, presumably to answer a question the tutoring system can’t resolve. Though I’m just feet away, I can’t distinguish their words above the soft hum of traffic on the street below.

在不同的时间点,两位老师都注意到屏幕上有什么东西促使他们走过去,跪在学生的椅子旁。他们低声说话,大概是为了回答一个辅导系统无法解决的问题。虽然我离他们只有几英尺远,但我听不清他们的话。

“It’s so quiet,” I whisper to the small gang of school and company staff assembled for my tour. The Hangzhou regional director smiles with what I interpret as a hint of pride: “There are no sounds of teachers lecturing.”

“太安静了,”我小声对这群学校和公司员工说。这位杭州地区负责人微笑着,我认为他的微笑透露出一丝自豪:“没有老师讲课的声音。”

NOah Sheldon

诺亚·谢尔登

Three things have fueled China’s AI education boom. The first is tax breaks and other incentives for AI ventures that improve anything from student learning to teacher training to school management. For VCs, this means such ventures are good bets. According to one estimate, China led the way in over $1 billion invested globally last year in AI education.

有三件事推动了中国人工智能教育的蓬勃发展。首先是税收减免和对人工智能企业的其他激励措施,这些措施可以改善从学生学习、教师培训到学校管理的方方面面。对风投来说,这意味着这类投资是不错的选择。据估计,去年中国在全球人工智能教育领域的投资超过10亿美元,居世界首位。

Second, academic competition in China is fierce. Ten million students a year take the college entrance exam, the gaokao. Your score determines whether and where you can study for a degree, and it’s seen as the biggest determinant of success for the rest of your life. Parents willingly pay for tutoring or anything else that helps their children get ahead.

第二,中国的学术竞争非常激烈。每年有一千万学生参加高考。你的分数决定了你是否能够以及在哪里获得学位,而它被视为你余生成功的最大决定因素。父母愿意花钱请家教或做任何能帮助孩子取得成功的事情。

Finally, Chinese entrepreneurs have masses of data at their disposal to train and refine their algorithms. The population is vast, people’s views on data privacy are much more lax than in the West (especially if they can get coveted benefits like academic performance in return), and parents are big believers in the potential of technology, having seen how much it has transformed the country in just a few decades.

最后,中国企业家拥有大量的数据来训练和完善他们的算法。人口是巨大的,人们对数据隐私的看法更宽松比西方(特别是如果他们能得到梦寐以求的好处比如学业成绩回报),和家长更坚信技术的潜力,在这个国家短短几十年里看过太多变化。

Squirrel focuses on helping students score better on annual standardized tests, which taps straight into national gaokao anxiety; more than 80% of its students return year after year, it says. It also designed its system to capture ever more data from the beginning, which has made possible all kinds of personalization and prediction experiments. It heavily markets its technical capabilities through academic publications, international collaborations, and awards, which has made it a darling of the Shanghai local government.

Squirrel专注于帮助学生在年度标准化考试中取得更好的成绩,这直接引发了全国的高考焦虑;它说,该校80%以上的学生年复一年地重返校园。它还设计了从一开始就能捕获更多数据的系统,这使得各种个性化和预测实验成为可能。它通过学术刊物、国际合作和奖项大力推销自己的技术能力,这使它成为上海地方政府的宠儿。

The strategy has fueled mind-boggling growth. In the five years since it was founded, the company has opened 2,000 learning centers in 200 cities and registered over a million students—equal to New York City’s entire public school system. It plans to expand to 2,000 more centers domestically within a year. To date, the company has also raised over $180 million in funding. At the end of last year, it gained unicorn status, surpassing $1 billion in valuation.

这一战略推动了令人难以置信的增长。自成立以来的五年中,该公司在200个城市开设了2000个学习中心,注册学生超过100万,相当于纽约市整个公立学校系统的学生人数。该公司计划在一年内将其在美国国内的中心扩大到2000多个。到目前为止,该公司还筹集了超过1.8亿美元的资金。去年年底,它获得了独角兽的地位,估值超过10亿美元。

Noah Sheldon

诺亚·谢尔登

Squirrel isn’t the first company to pursue the concept of an AI tutor. The earliest efforts to “replicate” teachers date back to the 1970s, when computers first started being used in education. Then, between 1982 and 1984, several studies in the US showed that students who received one-on-one human tutoring performed far better than students who didn’t. This set off a new wave of efforts to re-create that kind of individual attention in a machine. The result was adaptive learning systems, which can now be found everywhere from kindergartens to workplace training centers.

Squirrel并不是第一家追求人工智能导师概念的公司。最早的“复制”教师的努力可以追溯到20世纪70年代,当时计算机首次开始在教育中使用。然后,在1982年至1984年间,美国的几项研究表明,接受一对一人类辅导的学生比没有接受的学生表现要好得多。这引发了新一轮的努力,试图在机器中重新创造出这种个人注意力。其结果是适应性学习系统,现在从幼儿园到职场培训中心随处可见。

Squirrel’s innovation is in its granularity and scale. For every course it offers, its engineering team works with a group of master teachers to subdivide the subject into the smallest possible conceptual pieces. Middle school math, for example, is broken into over 10,000 atomic elements, or “knowledge points,” such as rational numbers, the properties of a triangle, and the Pythagorean theorem. The goal is to diagnose a student’s gaps in understanding as precisely as possible. By comparison, a textbook might divide the same subject into 3,000 points; ALEKS, an adaptive learning platform developed by US-based McGraw-Hill, which inspired Squirrel’s, divides it into roughly 1,000.

Squirrel的创新之处在于它的粒度和规模。对于它提供的每一门课程,它的工程团队都会与一组专业教师合作,将课程细分为尽可能小的概念部分。例如,中学数学被分解成10,000多个原子元素或“知识点”,如有理数、三角形的性质和勾股定理。我们的目标是尽可能准确地诊断出学生在理解上的差距。相比之下,一本教科书可能会把一个科目分成3000分;ALEKS是美国麦格劳-希尔公司(McGraw-Hill)开发的一个适应性学习平台,也是Squirrel的灵感来源。

Once the knowledge points are set, they are paired with video lectures, notes, worked examples, and practice problems. Their relationships—how they build on each other and overlap—are encoded in a “knowledge graph,” also based on the master teachers’ experience.

一旦设置好知识点,就会配上视频讲座、笔记、工作示例和练习问题。他们的关系——他们如何建立在彼此的基础上和重叠——被编码在一个“知识图”中,也基于名师的经验。

Noah Sheldon

诺亚·谢尔登

A student begins a course of study with a short diagnostic test to assess how well she understands key concepts. If she correctly answers an early question, the system will assume she knows related concepts and skip ahead. Within 10 questions, the system has a rough sketch of what she needs to work on, and uses it to build a curriculum. As she studies, the system updates its model of her understanding and adjusts the curriculum accordingly. As more students use the system, it spots previously unrealized connections between concepts. The machine-learning algorithms then update the relationships in the knowledge graph to take these new connections into account. While ALEKS does some of this as well, Squirrel claims that its machine-learning optimizations are more limited, making it, in theory, less effective.

一名学生开始学习一门课程,首先要做一个简短的诊断测试,以评估她对关键概念的理解程度。如果她正确地回答了一个早期的问题,系统会假设她知道相关的概念,然后跳过。在10个问题之内,系统就能大致勾勒出她需要做什么,并使用它来构建课程。在她学习的过程中,系统更新了她的理解模型,并相应地调整了课程设置。随着越来越多的学生使用这个系统,它发现了以前没有发现的概念之间的联系。然后,机器学习算法更新知识图中的关系,以考虑这些新的连接。虽然ALEKS也做了一些这样的工作,Squirrel声称它的机器学习优化更加有限,从理论上说,这使得它的效率更低。

Squirrel has offered some validation of its system. In October 2017, for example, a self-funded four-day study with 78 middle school students found that the system was better on average at lifting math test scores than experienced teachers teaching a dozen or so kids in a traditional classroom.

Squirrel对其系统提供了一些验证。例如,2017年10月,一项由78名中学生自筹资金进行的为期四天的研究发现,该系统在提高数学考试成绩方面的平均水平,要优于在传统教室里教授十几名学生的经验丰富的老师。

The students I speak to at the learning center have high praise for the tutoring program as well. All are finishing middle school and have been coming to the center for more than a year. One girl, Fu Weiyi, tells me she’s improved far faster than when she got individual tutoring from a human teacher. “Here, I have a teacher both on and offline,” she says. “Plus, the instruction is very targeted; the system can directly identify the gaps in my understanding.” Another student echoes the sentiment: “With the system, you don’t have to do tons of exercises, but it’s still effective. It really saves time.”

我在学习中心采访的学生也对这个辅导项目给予了很高的评价。他们都即将完成中学学业,来这个中心已经一年多了。一个叫Fu Weiyi的女孩告诉我,她的进步比她从真人老师那里得到单独辅导时快得多。“在这里,我有一位在线和离线的老师,”她说。“此外,指令非常有针对性;系统可以直接识别出我理解上的差距。另一名学生呼应了这一观点:“有了这套系统,你不必做大量的练习,但它仍然有效。”这真的节省了时间。”

While I have to take their words with a grain of salt—the students are hand-picked and give their testimonials under intense supervision—I’m still touched by their relief that they’ve found a formula that works to ameliorate the often brutal academic environment. Zhou Yi’s story, perhaps not coincidentally, also neatly illustrates how Squirrel can help struggling students.

尽管我不得不对他们的话表示怀疑——学生们都是经过精心挑选的,并在严格的监督下给出了他们的证明——但我仍然为他们感到欣慰,因为他们发现了一种有效的方法,可以改善往往很残酷的学术环境。也许并非巧合,Zhou Yi的故事也很好地说明了Squirrel如何帮助苦苦挣扎的学生。

For Squirrel’s founder Li, this vision doesn’t stop at tutoring. He has ambitions to break out of the confines of after-school programming and integrate his curriculum directly into the main classroom. Squirrel is already in discussion with several schools in China to make its system the primary method of instruction.

对于Squirrel的创始人李来说,这一愿景并没有止步于辅导。他雄心勃勃地想要打破课外编程的局限,将自己的课程直接融入到主课堂中。Squirrel已经在与中国的几所学校进行讨论,使其系统成为主要的教学方法。

I try to imagine what this world might be like, and whether we might be better off for it. I ask the students one last question: Is there anything that Squirrel could improve? A long pause. Then: “I wish we had more interaction with our human teachers,” Fu says.

我试着想象这个世界会是什么样子,我们是否会因此而变得更好。我问学生们最后一个问题:Squirrel 有什么可以改进的吗?一个长时间的停顿。然后:“我希望我们能与我们的真人老师有更多的互动,”Fu 说。

Noah Sheldon

诺亚·谢尔登

Every educational expert I spoke to for this story began by making the same point: to understand how AI could improve teaching and learning, you need to think about how it is reshaping the nature of work.

为了这个故事,我采访的每一位教育专家都以同样的观点开始:要理解人工智能如何改善教学,你需要思考它如何重塑工作的本质。

As machines become better at rote tasks, humans will need to focus on the skills that remain unique to them: creativity, collaboration, communication, and problem-solving. They will also need to adapt quickly as more and more skills fall prey to automation. This means the 21st-century classroom should bring out the strengths and interests of each person, rather than impart a canonical set of knowledge more suited for the industrial age.

随着机器越来越擅长死记硬背,人类将需要专注于他们独有的技能:创造力、协作、沟通和解决问题的能力。随着越来越多的技能成为自动化的牺牲品,他们也需要迅速适应。这意味着21世纪的课堂应该发挥每个人的长处和兴趣,而不是传授一套更适合工业时代的规范知识。

AI, in theory, could make this easier. It could take over certain rote tasks in the classroom, freeing teachers up to pay more attention to each student. Hypotheses differ about what that might look like. Perhaps AI will teach certain kinds of knowledge while humans teach others; perhaps it will help teachers keep track of student performance or give students more control over how they learn. Regardless, the ultimate goal is deeply personalized teaching.

理论上,人工智能可以让这变得更容易。它可以在课堂上取代某些死记硬背的任务,让老师有更多的时间来关注每个学生。假设不同的可能是什么样子。也许人工智能将教授某些种类的知识,而人类将教授其他种类的知识;也许这能帮助老师跟踪学生的表现,或者让学生更好地控制自己的学习方式。无论如何,最终的目标是深度个性化教学。

Noah Sheldon

诺亚·谢尔登

Squirrel’s approach may yield great results on traditional education, but it doesn’t prepare students to be flexible in a changing world, the experts I spoke to say. “There’s a difference between adaptive learning and personalized learning,” says Chris Dede, a professor at Harvard University in the Technology, Innovation, and Education Program. Squirrel is doing adaptive learning, which is about “understanding exactly what students know and don’t know.” But it pays no attention to what they want to know or how they learn best. Personalized learning takes their interests and needs into account to “orchestrate the motivation and time for each student so they are able to make progress.”

Squirrel的方法可能会在传统教育上产生巨大的效果,但它并不能让学生在不断变化的世界中变得灵活,我采访的专家说。“适应性学习和个性化学习是有区别的,”哈佛大学技术、创新和教育项目教授Chris Dede说。Squirrel正在进行适应性学习,这是关于“准确地理解学生知道和不知道什么。”但它并不关注他们想知道什么,或者他们如何学得最好。个性化学习考虑到学生的兴趣和需求,“为每个学生精心安排动机和时间,使他们能够取得进步。”

Jutta Treviranus, a professor at the Ontario College of Art and Design University who pioneered personalized learning to improve inclusivity in education, breaks it down further. “Personalized learning has a number of levels,” she says: she calls them pace, path, and destination.

安大略艺术与设计大学(Ontario College of Art and Design University)教授尤塔·特雷维拉纳斯(Jutta Treviranus)是个性化学习的先驱,旨在提高教育的包容性。“个性化学习有很多层次,”她说:她称之为速度、路径和目标。

If the pace of learning is personalized, students with different abilities are allowed different amounts of time to learn the same material. If the path is personalized, students might be given different motivations to reach the same objectives (“Here’s why statistics is relevant to your love of baseball”) and offered the material in different formats (e.g., video versus text). If the destination is personalized, students can choose, for instance, whether to learn with a vocational school or a university in mind.

如果学习的节奏是个性化的,那么不同能力的学生可以用不同的时间学习相同的材料。如果路径是个性化的,学生可能会被给予不同的动机来达到相同的目标(“这就是为什么统计数据与你对棒球的热爱有关”),并以不同的格式提供材料(例如,视频和文本)。如果目标是个性化的,学生可以选择,例如,是在职业学校学习还是在大学学习。

“We need students to understand their own learning. We need them to determine what they want to learn, and we need them to learn to learn,” Treviranus says. “Squirrel AI doesn’t address those things at all. It only makes it more efficient to bring all of the students to the same standardized place.”

“我们需要学生了解自己的学习。我们需要他们决定他们想学什么,我们需要他们学会学习。Squirrel AI 根本不处理这些事情。它只会让把所有学生带到同一个标准化的地方变得更有效率。”

That doesn’t mean that adaptive learning systems won’t have any place in the 21st-century classroom. David Dockterman, a colleague of Dede’s, believes their strength in training people on structured knowledge is still valuable. But it would be a mistake to make them the predominant “teacher” in the classroom: “The kinds of rote activities—knowledge retrieval, skill acquisition—that are more readily teachable with a smart tutor are also the things that are more readily accomplished by a smart machine,” he says.

但这并不意味着适应性学习系统在21世纪的课堂上将没有一席之地。Dede的同事David Dockterman认为,他们在结构化知识培训方面的优势仍然很有价值。但是让他们成为教室里的主要“老师”将是一个错误:“那些更容易被聪明的老师教的死记硬背的活动——知识检索、技能获取——也是更容易被聪明的机器完成的事情,”他说。

Noah Sheldon

诺亚·谢尔登

Li, Squirrel’s founder, is tall and lanky and has severe cheekbones. When he speaks English, he punctuates every few sentences with “Right?,” eyebrows raised, to make sure you’re on the same page. When he speaks Mandarin, his words tumble out twice as fast.

Squirrel的创始人栗(栗浩洋)又高又瘦,颧骨突出。当他说英语时,每隔几句话就说“对吧?”眉毛扬起,以确保你们意见一致。当他说普通话时,他的语速是别人的两倍。

A week after my visit to the learning center, I meet him at Squirrel’s headquarters in Shanghai. In the style of an understated showman, he gives me the grand tour. The modesty of the learning center stands in sharp contrast to the office décor here: each wall boasts of different details about the company and milestones it’s reached. Here’s one with all its media mentions. Here’s another with all its awards. And here are some examples of students who were deemed “hopeless” and then saved. I run into another tour before I’ve finished my own.

参观学习中心一周后,我在上海Squirrel总部见到了他。他以一种低调的作秀方式带我参观了一场盛大的巡回演出。学习中心的谦逊与这里的办公室装饰形成了鲜明的对比:每一面墙上都有关于公司的不同细节和它所达到的里程碑。这是一张所有媒体都提到的照片。这是另一张获奖名单。这里有一些学生的例子,他们被认为是“无望的”,然后获救。在我结束自己的旅行之前,我又遇到了另一次旅行。

A few steps past the first door, Li points out a screen to my immediate left playing a TV clip on repeat. It’s a game show featuring a showdown between Squirrel’s tutoring system and a human teacher—one of the best in China, he says. Three of the teacher’s students, whom he has taught for three years, stand alongside him on stage solving problems. The system and the teacher compete to predict which ones they will get right.

走过第一扇门几步,栗指着我左边的屏幕,屏幕上播放着一段重复播放的电视片段。他说,这是一个游戏节目,讲述的是Squirrel的辅导系统和人类老师之间的对决——中国最好的老师之一。这位老师的三个学生,他已经教了三年,站在他旁边解决问题。这个系统和老师们互相竞争来预测哪一个是正确的。

Li doesn’t wait for the clip to end to reveal the punchline: “In three hours we understand students more than the three years spent by the best teachers.”

栗没有等到视频结束就透露出其中的妙语:“在三个小时里,我们对学生的了解超过了最好的老师花三年的时间。”

On screen, the teacher looks increasingly crestfallen and humiliated. “He looks so sad,” I say.

在屏幕上,这位老师看起来越来越沮丧和羞愧。“他看起来很伤心,”我说。

“You noticed!” Li laughs.

“你注意到了!”栗笑。

Much of Squirrel’s philosophy stems from Li’s own experiences as a child. When he was young, he didn’t have very good emotional intelligence, he says, and reading books on the subject didn’t help. So he spent half a year dividing the skill into 27 different components and trained himself on each one. He trained himself to be more observant, for example, and to be an interesting conversationalist (“I spent a lot of time finding 100 topics, so I have a lot of material to talk with others,” he says). He even trained himself to keep smiling when others criticized him. (“After that, in my life, I do not have any enemies.”) The method gave him the results he wanted—along with the firm belief that anything can be taught this way.

 Squirrel的大部分哲学思想都源于栗自己小时候的经历。他说,当他年轻的时候,他没有很好的情商,阅读有关这个主题的书籍也没有帮助。因此,他花了半年时间将这项技能分成27个不同的部分,并对每个部分进行了训练。例如,他训练自己变得更善于观察,成为一个有趣的健谈者(“我花了很多时间寻找100个话题,所以我有很多材料可以与他人交谈,”他说)。他甚至训练自己在别人批评他时保持微笑。(“从此以后,在我的生活中,我没有任何敌人。”

Li uses an analogy to lay out his ultimate vision. “When AI education prevails,” he says, “human teachers will be like a pilot.” They will monitor the readouts while the algorithm flies the plane, and for the most part they will play a passive role. But every so often, when there’s an alert and a passenger panics (say, a student gets bullied), they can step in to calm things down. “Human teachers will focus on emotional communication,” he says.

栗用一个比喻来阐述他的终极愿景。“当人工智能教育盛行时,”他说,“人类教师就会像飞行员一样。”“他们会在算法飞行时监控读数,在大多数情况下,他们会扮演被动角色。但偶尔,当出现警报和乘客恐慌时(比如,一个学生被欺负了),他们可以介入来平息事态。他说:“真人教师将注重情感交流。”

Li thinks this is the only way humanity will be able to elevate its collective intelligence. Entrusting teachers with anything else could risk “damaging geniuses.” He’s playing out this philosophy on his own kids, using Squirrel’s system as much as possible to train them. He boasts that his eight-year-old twin boys, in the second grade, are now learning eighth-grade physics, a testament that his method is working. “Only adaptive systems could make such miracles,” he says.

栗认为这是人类提高集体智慧的唯一途径。把其他事情托付给老师可能会有“损害天才”的风险。“他把这种哲学运用到自己的孩子身上,尽可能多地使用Squirrel的系统来训练他们。他自豪地说,他八岁的双胞胎儿子,在二年级,现在正在学习八年级的物理,这证明他的方法是有效的。“只有自适应系统才能创造这样的奇迹,”他说。

Noah Sheldon

诺亚·谢尔登

Squirrel is already exporting its technology abroad. It has cultivated its international reputation by appearing at some of the largest AI conferences around the world and bringing on reputable collaborators affiliated with MIT, Harvard, and other prestigious research institutes. Li has also recruited several Americans to serve on his executive team, with the intent of pushing into the US and Europe in the next two years. One of them is Tom Mitchell, the dean of computer science at Carnegie Mellon; another is Dan Bindman, who led the user experience and editorial teams at ALEKS.

Squirrel已经将其技术出口到国外。它通过参加一些世界上最大的人工智能会议,并聘请麻省理工学院、哈佛大学和其他著名研究机构的著名合作者,树立了自己的国际声誉。栗还招募了几名美国人加入他的管理团队,希望在未来两年内进军美国和欧洲市场。其中之一是卡内基梅隆大学计算机科学系主任汤姆·米切尔;另一位是Dan Bindman,他在ALEKS负责用户体验和编辑团队。

Treviranus worries that Squirrel’s educational philosophy is representative of a broader flaw in China’s pursuit of intelligent education: its emphasis on standardized learning and testing. “The tragedy of the China experiments is that they’re taking the country to a point of education that any progressive pedagogue or education system is moving away from,” she says.

特雷维拉纳斯担心Squirrel的教育理念代表了中国追求智能教育的一个更广泛的缺陷:强调标准化学习和测试。她表示:“中国实验的悲剧在于,它们把中国带到一个任何进步的教育者或教育体系都在远离的教育阶段。”

But she believes that China also has one of the best opportunities to reinvent a more teacher-friendly, learner-focused classroom environment. It is less entrenched than the West in older models of education and much more willing to try new ideas. “China needs to look at a completely different form of AI,” she says. The question is: What does that mean?

但她认为,中国也有最好的机会来重塑一个更有利于教师、更注重学生的课堂环境。与西方相比,中国在旧的教育模式中不那么根深蒂固,而且更愿意尝试新理念。“中国需要研究一种完全不同形式的人工智能,”她表示。问题是:这意味着什么?

The answer may lie a dozen miles west of Squirrel’s headquarters, across from the Huangpu River that courses through Shanghai. There, Pan Pengkai, a children’s educational expert, is conducting experiments of a different nature.

答案可能就在Squirrel总部以西十几英里处,也就是贯穿上海的黄浦江对岸。在那里,儿童教育专家潘鹏凯正在进行另一种性质的实验。

Pan has been thinking about how to use AI in education for nearly two decades. Fifteen years ago, he founded his first ed-tech company in China after getting his PhD from the MIT Media Lab. Inspired by his experience in grad school, he focused on building tools for learning English. “Innovation comes from difference,” he says. “That’s exactly what China lacks. If you are able to speak multiple languages, you are able to talk to different people; you are able to communicate different ideas.”

潘近20年来一直在思考如何在教育中使用人工智能。15年前,在麻省理工学院媒体实验室获得博士学位后,他在中国创办了自己的第一家教育科技公司。受他在研究生院的经历启发,他专注于构建学习英语的工具。“创新源于差异,”他说。“这正是中国所缺乏的。如果你能说多种语言,你就能和不同的人交谈;你可以交流不同的想法。”

Pan now runs Alo7, a K-12 ed-tech company with the same mission of teaching English. Unlike many other firms, though, it seeks to move away from test-oriented learning and instead foster creativity, leadership, and other soft skills. The company offers products and services for both physical and digital classrooms. It has an online learning platform, paired with a collection of textbooks, for example, that help students learn and practice their language skills. It also has a service that connects up to three pupils via video with English tutors abroad for regular group lessons. To date, it has served some 15 million students and teachers and partnered with 1,500 institutions nationally.

潘现在经营着一家名为Alo7的K-12教育科技公司,同样肩负着教授英语的使命。然而,与其他许多公司不同,它试图摆脱应试学习,转而培养创造力、领导力和其他软技能。该公司为实体教室和数字教室提供产品和服务。例如,它有一个在线学习平台,与一系列教科书配套,帮助学生学习和练习语言技能。它还提供一项服务,最多可通过视频将三名学生与国外的英语教师联系起来,进行定期的集体授课。迄今为止,它已经为大约1500万名学生和教师提供了服务,并在全国范围内与1500所院校合作。

Courtesy of Alo7

Alo7的谦逊

Unlike Squirrel, Alo7’s online learning platform is meant to supplement a traditional classroom. Knowledge that can be exercised through adaptive learning, like vocabulary words, is practiced at home through the app. So are skills like pronunciation, which can be refined through speech-recognition algorithms. But anything requiring creativity, like writing and conversation, is learned in the classroom. The teacher’s contribution is vital. Pan offers a parallel: “There’s lots of medical technology used in hospitals, but we cannot say the machine is better than the doctors. It’s still a doctor’s assistant tool.”

与Squirrel不同,Alo7的在线学习平台旨在补充传统课堂。可以通过自适应学习来锻炼的知识,比如词汇,可以在家里通过app来练习。发音等技能也可以通过语音识别算法来提高。但任何需要创造力的东西,比如写作和对话,都是在课堂上学习的。老师的贡献是至关重要的。潘提出了一个类似的观点:“医院里有很多医疗技术,但我们不能说机器比医生好。它仍然是医生的辅助工具。”

Pan’s ultimate vision for AI in education is to get rid of standardized tests entirely. “Why do we test people for two or three hours to determine if they are good or bad?” he asks. He thinks AI will eventually create flexible learning environments that are as good for sensitive and creative students as for precise and analytical ones. Education will no longer be about competition, he says.

潘对人工智能教育的终极愿景是完全摆脱标准化考试。“为什么我们要用两三个小时来测试人们,以确定他们是好是坏?””他问道。他认为,人工智能最终将创造出灵活的学习环境,既适合敏感、有创造力的学生,也适合精确、善于分析的学生。他说,教育将不再是竞争。

Last year Alo7 began to experiment more. It added face and voice analysis to its video tutoring sessions to produce summary reports of each lesson. Algorithms measure how much time the students spoke English in class, the accuracy of their English pronunciation, and basic indicators of their engagement and joy, such as the number of times they opened their mouth to speak and laugh. Earlier this year, the company created several physical classrooms equipped with cameras and microphones to produce similar analyses. Teachers get reports on their own performance, too.

去年,Alo7开始进行更多的实验。该公司在视频辅导课程中增加了人脸和语音分析功能,以生成每节课的总结报告。算法测量学生在课堂上讲英语的时间,他们的英语发音的准确性,以及他们投入和快乐的基本指标,比如他们开口说话和大笑的次数。今年早些时候,该公司创建了几个配有摄像头和麦克风的实体教室,以进行类似的分析。老师们也会收到关于自己表现的报告。

I go see one of Alo7’s intelligent classrooms for myself. It’s small but bursting with color. The walls are illustrated with the company's mascots, five cartoon companions with distinct personalities, which appear throughout the company’s educational materials. There are neither tables nor chairs, just a bench that runs along the back wall. At the front are a whiteboard and two TVs for displaying the day’s curriculum.

我亲自去参观了Alo7的智能教室。它很小,但是充满了色彩。墙壁上绘有该公司的吉祥物,五个个性鲜明的卡通伙伴,出现在该公司的教育材料中。这里既没有桌子也没有椅子,只有一条靠墙的长凳。前面是一块白板和两台电视,用来显示当天的课程。

There are no classes in session, but a company employee plays me some short clips of elementary school classes. In one, six students sit on a bench and practice saying the names of different animals. “Bird, bird, bird!” they chant with their teacher as she flaps her arms like wings. “Turtle, turtle, turtle!” they continue as the screen changes its display to a cartoon turtle. The teacher-student interactions take the foreground; the AI purposely fades, unnoticed, into the back.

课堂上没有课,但是一个公司的员工给我放了一些小学课堂的短片。在一个实验中,六名学生坐在长凳上练习说出不同动物的名字。“鸟,鸟类,鸟!他们和老师一起唱着,她像扇动翅膀一样拍打着双臂。“乌龟,乌龟,乌龟!他们继续说着,屏幕变成了一只卡通乌龟。师生互动占据了主导地位;人工智能故意淡出,不被注意,进入后面。

Courtesy of Alo7

Alo7的谦逊

Dede says the kind of data generated in an intelligent classroom could be useful, but he cautions that cameras and other sensors could also be misused to judge a student’s emotions or state of mind, applications that have little grounding in science and could lead to over-surveillance. Pan agrees that it’s important to be careful: “That’s why we provide the data mainly for teachers and not students, because we haven’t yet run scientific tests.”

Dede说,在智能教室中生成的数据可能有用,但他警告说,摄像机和其他传感器也可能被误用来判断学生的情绪或精神状态,这些应用几乎没有科学基础,可能导致过度监控。潘也认为,谨慎是很重要的:“这就是为什么我们主要向老师而不是学生提供数据的原因,因为我们还没有进行科学测试。”

Pan tells me he doesn’t have plans to expand Alo7 beyond China. The domestic market alone is enough of a challenge when he’s selling an education philosophy that goes against the mainstream. But he’s begun to see a shift in the national conversation. As government leaders have sought new ways to stimulate innovation, the idea of a “quality-oriented education”—one that emphasizes creativity and the liberal arts—has gained momentum.

潘告诉我,他没有把Alo7扩张到中国以外的计划。当他推销一种与主流背道而驰的教育理念时,单是国内市场就足以构成挑战。但他开始看到全国对话的转变。随着政府领导人寻求刺激创新的新途径,“素质教育”(强调创造力和人文艺术)的理念得到了发展。

In February of last year, China’s education ministry passed a series of reforms, including stricter licensing for tutors, aimed at reducing the obsession with testing. Earlier this month, the government also unveiled a set of guidelines to focus more on physical, moral, and artistic education, and less on exams. Though critics point out it still hasn’t eliminated the gaokao, Pan is optimistic about its intent to change. Alo7 is also ready to help the country search for new paths forward.

去年2月,中国教育部通过了一系列改革措施,包括对导师发放更严格的执照,旨在减少对考试的痴迷。本月早些时候,政府还公布了一套指导方针,更多地关注身体、道德和艺术教育,而不是考试。尽管批评人士指出,高考仍未取消,但潘对高考改革的意图持乐观态度。Alo7还准备帮助中国寻找新的前进道路。

“We want to change the future of Chinese education with technology,” Pan always says. China’s current mass experiment in AI education, and the choices it must make, might also change education for the world.

潘总说:“我们想用科技改变中国教育的未来。”中国目前在人工智能教育方面的大规模实验,以及它必须做出的选择,可能也会改变世界的教育。

Corrections: Alo7’s video-tutoring service follows a group format; it’s not one-on-one. After publication, Squirrel clarified that Dan Bindman was the editorial director at ALEKS, not a co-founder as stated on Squirrel's website, and both companies use fewer knowledge points than the former previously shared. ALEKS also has more data than Squirrel.

更正:Alo7的视频辅导服务采用小组形式;这不是一对一的。发表后,Squirrel澄清说,Dan Bindman是ALEKS的编辑总监,而不是Squirrel网站上所说的联合创始人,而且两家公司使用的知识点比前者共享的要少。ALEKS也比Squirrel拥有更多的数据。

1 +1
举报
0 条评论
评论不能为空

DD的内容