March 22, 2024

Cosmic Communicators: Reimagining Education with AI

Dr. Ash Brockwell
There exists a mental health crisis across Higher Education

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Two weeks ago, I joined the AI Anthropic Hackathon, a pioneering event aimed at redefining education with generative AI, set against the backdrop of 42 London on theThames in Westminster. This event, hosted in partnership with forward-thinking institutions like LIS and 42 London, marked a critical juncture in addressing the urgent need for a revolution in higher education.

As the traditional UK educational model becomes increasingly misaligned with the demands of today's dynamic career landscape, these institutions are at the forefront of promoting a holistic, interdisciplinary approach to learning. Collaborating withAnthropic, a leading organisation in AI, we created a unique environment that united risk-takers and visionaries from various educational backgrounds, setting the stage for a weekend dedicated to innovation and impactful collaboration.

The hackathon kicked off on Friday, which was dedicated to introductions, team formation, and ideation. It was interesting to see the age range present, from first year university students to professionals with established careers. It's not often you get the chance to meet people from such different backgrounds and be put into such an intense yet productive space, each bringing their unique perspective and skills to the table. The excitement was palpable as we brainstormed ideas and laid the groundwork for our projects.

Saturday was all about getting down to business. The campus had a very zoned-in energy as teams worked tirelessly on their solutions, coding and troubleshooting into the night. It was a testament to the dedication and passion of everyone involved, a day where the theoretical concepts discussed on Friday began taking shape into tangible projects.

Sunday,the final day, was reserved for presentations. Each team had the opportunity to showcase their hard work and the innovative solutions they had developed over the weekend. It was a day of reflection, celebration, and constructive feedback, marking the culmination of anintense and rewarding journey.

My team's contribution, 'Cosmic Communicators,' reimagines maths education as a fun, engaging journey through the galaxy for KS2 students, particularly those on the spectrum facing communication challenges. By transforming traditional maths exercises into an interactive game, and utilising an AI-driven backend to analyse student interactions, we pinpoint individual strengths and weaknesses.

This dual approach generates both a weekly progress report for parents and a personalised learning plan for teachers, streamlining class preparation and making the educational experience more tailored and effective.

While many tools aim to personalise learning, our web app specifically addresses the often-overlooked challenges of neurodivergent students, targeting the gap in traditional educational communication by capturing nuanced strengths and weaknesses through AI-driven analysis, revolutionising support for diverse learning needs.

Beyond its pedagogical merits, 'Cosmic Communicators' is designed for practicality, boasting resource efficiency to minimise both computational demands and environmental impact. This makes it not only an advanced educational tool but also a sustainable and accessible solution, ready for integration into existing educational frameworks.

Participating in the hackathon was an invaluable experience, not just for the technical and creative challenges we overcame, but for the opportunity it provided to contribute to a meaningful project with the potential to impact education positively. Our team, though the youngest by far with an average age of 19, demonstrated remarkable unity and productivity.

We initially faced (rough) hurdles in communication and focus, but (with a bit of delay) we found our stride, and actually became great friends. This experience really showed me the importance of collaboration, creativity, and perseverance in achieving innovation, in a very small amount of time.

Moreover, the hackathon was all about the transformative potential of AI in education. Just as society is grappling with understanding autism as both a condition and a spectrum, we are also at a juncture where we must navigate the complexities of integrating AI into educational paradigms. Our project, very personal and important to me, exemplifies how AI can be harnessed to make learning more accessible and personalised, especially for students who might not thrive in traditional educational settings.

I did not expect to come out of this weekend with something that I truly believed had a serious tangible impact on an issue that I have always been so passionate about. So essentially, this 48 hours of hacking was not only a deep dive into the practical applications of AI in education but also a personal journey of growth and discovery. It was a reminder of the power of bringing diverse minds together to tackle complex challenges and the potential of technology to make a real difference in people's lives.

As I look forward to the possibilities that lie ahead, it's clear that the journey towards redefining complex problems with AI is just beginning, and I am excited to be part of this transformative movement.

I owe a huge thanks to the London Interdisciplinary School (LIS) for making these collaborations with fellow innovative students across London possible. Despite its small size,LIS consistently opens doors to opportunities that allow us to work alongside students from other institutions on projects with tangible impacts. This initiative not only broadens our network but also amplifies our ability to contribute to meaningful change.

Thank you, LIS, for this undoubtedly unique platform where creativity, futuristic thinking, and collaboration thrive.

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March 20th 2023

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