Artificial intelligence to analyze education data in Quebec

Minister Robertj noted that during the pandemic, it was necessary to know the number of positive cases in classes, to know the situation regarding absenteeism, to know who was following the teaching programme, to know the graduation rate and so on. The result, an unnecessarily complex task.

Nobody [de ces] Educational information was easy to access and quickly accessed. Each time it was an obstacle course in education and we had to collect all this information manually through questionnaires, questionnaires and reportshe explains.

It’s an outdated way of collecting data that’s slowing us down. Our schools, and our school service centers, are goldmines of information and data. You had to be able to dig in the right place and extract it. »

Quote from Minister of Education Jean-Francois Roberge

proven approach

Initiatives in this direction have already been tested in some CSS The results were promising. Thus, for CSS At Cœur-des-Vallées, in Outaouais, and Val-des-Cerfs, in Estrie, the use of digital intelligence has made it possible to prevent academic failure by discovering, at a rate greater than 90%, the students most at risk of dropping out once they reach secondary 1.

The project also made it possible to bring together students who have a similar profile or face similar challenges in order to provide support tailored to their specific needs.

Also, both CSS Thanks to this approach, they have succeeded in better redistributing their human resources according to the needs of different schools, in accurately forecasting future staff shortages according to job categories and in adjusting staffing accordingly.

We do not come to increase the mission of the school teams, specify the point of Minister Robertage. We don’t come and tell the teachers what to do. We don’t come to play pedagogy in the classroom. We come to ease the work of school teams, reduce the burden of bureaucracy in providing accounts by extracting data and exchanging information.

The three priority areas of analysis will target student absenteeism, academic success, human resource needs, and infrastructure maintenance operations.

Government cyberparanoid

This data, which will be anonymous – or will be identified, according to the ministry’s expression – can be processed and analyzed thanks to information panels, among other things.

Minister Cairo wanted to be reassured for this. : toutes les mesures seront prises pour assurer la cybersécurité de ces informations.”,”text”:”Le gouvernement du Québec doit être cyberparanoïaque. Compte tenu du fait qu’on travaille quand même avec de la donnée massive, je veux rassurer les Québécois: toutes les mesures seront prises pour assurer la cybersécurité de ces informations.”}}”>The Quebec government must be malicious on the Internet. Given the fact that we are still working with big data, I would like to reassure the people of Quebec: all measures will be taken to ensure the cyber security of this information.

Among the expenses to be incurred, Mr. Robertage explained the following:

  • $1.3 million will be allocated to data coordination work, to ensure data compatibility, comparable and scalable;
  • $5 million will be used to deploy support teams in schools and CSS;
  • $2 million will be used to develop and implement predictive algorithms and models;
  • $1.1 million will be allocated to create an AI expertise center dedicated to education;
  • $1.1 million will be allocated to collect data, develop tools for training, and support student success.

These digitization and analysis efforts are being carried out with the help of the Quebec Institute of Artificial Intelligence (MILA), the Institute for Data Valuation (IVADO), the International Observatory on the Societal Impacts of Artificial and Digital Technology of Intelligence (OBVIA) as well as GRICS, an IT company specializing in education.

Questions to CSQ

The Center for Trade Unions of Quebec (CSQ), which represents about 120,000 members in the education sector, said the government’s announcements raise many questions.

Of course, everyone knows that obtaining information from the Ministry of Education is a real obstacle! We are fully aware of the need to take on the role that has been offered. The idea is not to oppose it, but to make sure it is done correctly. In light of the various elements circulating today, we have several specific questions and concernsCSQ President, Eric Gingrass, said in a press release.

CSQ in particular questions respect for the professional judgment of network employees. A form, no matter how effective it may be, will always remain just a form. It will always take someone, at the end of the day, to make a professional judgment. These guides will not be able to account for a student’s entire course, their strengths and weaknesses, and their development as only education staff would.Mr. Gingras points out.

According to CSQ, employees should be involved in conceptualizing this data optimization program, in particular to avoid preconceived notions. What data will be included and used to measure what exactly? Developing this program in a vacuum to support the work of employees would be an aberrationargues Central Union.

The Quebec School Service Centers Association said it welcomed the government’s announcement.

We appreciate the fact that this digital intelligence in education project can enable the school network to have relevant, timely and useful data for decision-making in order to disseminate a high-quality service offering and prevent school dropoutPresident and CEO, Caroline Dupree, commented in a press release.

Moreover, as indicated by the Minister of Education, it is important to achieve these goals without increasing the workload on school staff and administrators, but rather reducing bureaucracy.she added.

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