EdTech, AI, and Mental Health: Improving Student Learning, Improving Students’ Lives

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Esan Durrani

By Esan Durrani, co-founder and CEO, Study Fetch.

Students in high school now have already lived through two global economic crises, and live in a world that is literally burning at a record rate. They must handle all of this while also coping with the normal chaotic ups and downs of adolescence can be overwhelming. Into this maelstrom, students are supposed to shuttle from Geometry to Social Studies and maintain focus on their studies.

The chaos of the post-pandemic world only adds to difficulties, as it has seen an increase in an already rising percentage of students dealing with mental health problems.

Some of these problems arose in part due to the remote and hybrid learning necessitated by the global pandemic. While undoubtedly better than no learning, students are still recovering from that ‘learning loss.’ Furthermore, the social cost of such extended isolation cannot be fully understood as it has no modern point of comparison. In order to put students back on track, and best position them to succeed in the future, any solution must take into account both the mental and the educational barriers our students face.

Fortunately, just as remote learning software mitigated the damage, proper investment in and uptake of available technology can put student learning back where it needs to be. 

After the pandemic many school districts transitioned into hybrid learning systems, and educators had access to information about different learning styles previously unavailable. During and after the pandemic, Artificial intelligence (AI) enabled learning allowed educators to create personalized and inclusive learning for their students, progress that we must continue to build on.

Elements of the remote and hybrid learning implemented during the pandemic must be replicated because without embracing the available technological resources, we are not giving our students the learning opportunities they deserve. Effective teaching must include any and all available resources to support students dealing with ADHD and other mental health issues, or anything else that may impact their learning experience. The increased use of educational technology (EdTech) has a long way to go to meet the need, with 71% of students strongly agreeing that EdTech helps them engage with course materials. Greater access to EdTech helps broaden access and equalize student learning, while AI-enabled platforms can maximize the benefit those students receive.

When it comes to the benefits of AI-enabled EdTech, we cannot forget the impact the pandemic had on teachers as well. The very people responsible for our students and their learning outcomes feel overstressed and overworked, a situation that can only harm the education our students receive. Fortunately many of the same benefits to students enable teachers to perform better as well. With AI platforms able to assist with note-taking, students can pay closer attention in class. This not only helps students struggling with ADHD but those who are hard of hearing, those with reading disorders, or the visually impaired. 

Better able to focus on the lesson, AI can then tailor student learning on the very lesson they just sat through. Furthermore, over time, AI platforms will learn about the learning style of students, tailoring advice and assistance on an individualized basis. Students from all ages and backgrounds can benefit, as it enables them to learn in ways that work best for them.

Properly implemented AI will learn from the student just as the student learns from the software. This will lead to more inclusive and cohesive learning, able to cater to every students’ needs. By easing access to learning, and helping tailor learning assistance on an individual basis, AI can relieve the stressors burdens that contribute to poor mental health among students. This, in turn, makes it easier for students to learn, a cycle that can not only erode pandemic learning loss, but help students get ahead.

EdTech and AI software are helping students all around the country, indeed all around the world, at this very moment. My team and I are proud to say we have helped over 250,000 students around the country combat mental health problems to improve learning outcomes. But that is not enough, that number does not even scratch the surface of what AI enabled EdTech can do for learning outcomes. Reducing the burden on our teachers, improving access to learning, and removing mental health barriers will foster a sustainable system of excellence.

By taking the lessons of the pandemic and applying them to today, we can best prepare our students for the future. Not only will AI systems help them in the short-term, but increased AI fluency and comfort with accepting new and emerging technologies will prepare them to be ready to take full advantage of the next advancement as we move deeper into the Digital Era.

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