Tech puts journalists out of business. No discussion about it. And as a result, we are currently witnessing a huge democratic decline, fuelled by clickbait and fake news to drive clicks in a desperate attempt to delay the inevitable: death by faulty design.
How we consume content in general and news, in particular, has changed significantly over a short period. Most media companies are in a crisis, their business model is threatened, fake news is on the rise, and according to the Washington Post and others, Americans pretty much only read the headlines and don’t bother to go to the news outlets’ websites to read the actual story. Tech puts journalists out of business. No discussion about it. And as a result, we are currently witnessing a huge democratic decline, fuelled by clickbait and fake news to drive clicks in a desperate attempt to delay the inevitable: death by faulty design. While news companies should look to tech for business model innovation, we got inspired by the news business and built an AI that summarizes the key points in a text (or, in our case, an online course) using Artificial Intelligence. Let’s take two steps back to explore how we looked to another industry for inspiration.
More and more news outlets have started sharing fairly detailed summaries of an article’s key points at the onset. In the beginning, I thought it was like cheating
I’ve never really been a headlines-only type of person. I recently switched from getting printed paper to digital, but only for the sake of the environment. I will always prefer the feel and smell of freshly printed paper. More and more news outlets have started sharing fairly detailed summaries of an article’s key points at the onset. In the beginning, I thought it was like cheating, but when I decide to spend my time on a new show on Netflix, I usually consult the trailer first and then open IMDB to check the reviews. Today our most precious resource is our time, and successfully managing time is paramount.
The role of AI and summaries in the news business
Providing summaries and key takeaways are already revolutionizing the news business:
- Summaries provide a great alternative to people simply reading a headline. I believe thoughtfully crafted summaries can even help combat fake news by encouraging people to take a deeper look at the substance of the article while only paying with a little bit of their time.
- Summaries help us make informed decisions about what article to read, skim or skip fully.
- AI-generated content is increasing online, with sports news being the field most suitable for auto-generation. But make no mistake, more news will be autogenerated moving forward, potentially even replacing real journalists. BBC reported that Microsoft replaced journalists with AIs as far back as 2020 for the curation of news.
- Journalists are just humans. They are biased, just like instructors and HR consultants are. Bias in journalism and teaching can be a real problem. A series of projects are designed to implement AIs that fact-check the work of journalists. Check out MIT for a review of some of the initiatives.
- In the not too distant future, entire news articles will be written by AIs, independent organizations will create websites that rank the work of journalists, and AIs will give work truth scores. This will help hold journalists accountable and provide readers with an instant indicator of the quality of the work they are about to read.
As designers, HR specialists, and instructors, we can learn from this development, as AI is also revolutionizing our industry
What do recent changes in journalism have to do with online learning?
For years we have witnessed decreasing attention spans, completing and that learning sites or platforms compete with other content-based outlets such as news sites, Youtube and Netflix. That’s the reason we all use session length as a go-to KPI. In edtech, we have seen courses become micro-learning, later came the greater reliance on video over text, and finally, having small summaries with key takeaways before learning something new. It’s the next big learning trend. That’s something we can see directly from how content is consumed on news sites. Creating summaries of key takeaways in a course unit has never been easier since we introduced it as a feature within AICATO. For now, the feature is available in English, using English-language materials, but soon we will release it in Spanish. Due to the general limitations to working with NLP in less popular languages, the feature will not be available in Danish any time soon.
we have seen courses become micro-learning, later came the greater reliance on video over text, and finally, having small summaries with key takeaways before learning something new.
What is AICATO?
More than two years ago, we released our AI Course Authoring tool, AICATO. We have taken our AI to the next level by introducing summaries of key takeaways from the curriculum that makes up a course. In each unit, the AI suggests a unit description that is tailor-made to the specific unit (if it’s first or last in the course) and includes summaries of the most important points from the learning materials in the unit. What we perceive as the most important takeaways are likely not the same. This feature is innovative because it:
- Reduces the time it takes course designers to build courses.
- It provides a second opinion for instructors.
- Every time you edit the auto-generated text, the algorithm improves and provides you with an even better summary next time.
Below you can take a look at how the feature works. What do you think will be the next big thing in learning?
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