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How can artificial intelligence enhance education?

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The transformative power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in education cuts across all economic and social sectors, including education.

“Education will be profoundly transformed by AI,” says UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. “Teaching tools, ways of learning, access to knowledge, and teacher training will be revolutionized.”

AI has the potential to accelerate the process of achieving the global education goals through reducing barriers to access learning, automating management processes, and optimizing methods in order to improve learning outcomes.

This is why UNESCO’s upcoming Mobile Learning Week (4-8 March 2019) will focus on AI and its implications for sustainable development. Held annually at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, the 5-day event offers an exciting mix of high-level plenaries, workshops and hands-on demonstrations. Some 1200 participants have already registered for the event that provides the educational community, governments and other stakeholders a unique opportunity to discuss the opportunities and threats of AI in the area of education.

The discussions will evolve around four key issues:

Ensure inclusive and equitable use of AI in education – including actions on how to address inequalities related to socio-economic status, gender, ethnicity and geographic location; identify successful projects or proved-effective AI solutions to break through barriers for vulnerable groups to access quality education.

Leverage AI to enhance education and learning – improve education management systems, AI-boosted learning management systems or other AI in education applications, and identify new forms of personalized learning that can support teachers and tackle education challenges.

Promote skills development for jobs and life in the AI era – support the design of local, regional and international strategies and policies, consider the readiness of policymakers and other education leaders and stakeholders; and explore how AI-powered mobile technology tools can support skills development and innovation.

Safeguard transparent and auditable use of education data – analyze how to mitigate the risks and perils of AI in education; identify and promote sound evidence for policy formulation guaranteeing accountability, and adopt algorithms that are transparent and explainable to education stakeholders.

During Mobile Learning Week, UNESCO is organizing a Global Conference on AI (Monday 4 March) to raise awareness and promote reflection on the opportunities and challenges that AI and its correlated technologies pose, notably in the area of transparency and accountability. The conference, entitled “AI with Human Values for Sustainable Development” will also explore the potential of AI in relation to the SDGs.

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Fintechs See Increased Growth as Firms Adapt to COVID-19

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The World Economic Forum has today released results of a study on how the fintech industry has been impacted by COVID-19.

Since the onset of the pandemic, the fintech industry has seen increased growth. In 2020, firms saw an average rise of 13% compared to 11% growth in previous years. The expansion of transactions was noticeably higher in countries with strict lockdown measures, where growth was 50% higher, compared to firms who were operating in countries with looser measures. Though the highest gains were seen in the digital payments sector, nearly all fintech services saw increased growth. Digital lending was the only service that did not see increased growth.

“It’s clear COVID-19 has disrupted the global economy with lasting implications for corporates and consumers,” said Matthew Blake, Head of Financial and Monetary Systems, World Economic Forum. “Despite this challenging backdrop, fintechs have proven resilient and adaptable: contributing to pandemic relief efforts, adjusting operations and offerings to serve vulnerable market segments, like micro, small and medium-sized businesses, while posting year-over-year growth across most regions.”

Despite this growth, many fintech firms are in a deteriorating financial position, with over half of survey respondents reporting a negative impact on their capital reserves and mixed views for future funding. The Global COVID-19 Fintech Market Rapid Assessment report, which the Forum has launched in collaboration with the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF) and the World Bank, explores these trends in depth, examining both financial and policy effects on the fintech industry during COVID-19.

Fintech trends during COVID-19 lockdowns

On average, fintech firms in economies with stricter lockdown measures saw 50% higher transaction growth than economies whose governments applied looser measures. Firms in the markets with the strictest lockdowns saw 15% growth in their transactions compared to 10% growth in countries with the fewer restrictions.

Transaction volumes and number of transactions under low, medium and high COVID-19 lockdown stringencies

Image: CCAF/World Economic Forum/World Bank

These trends were also seen in fintech employment in these economies. Fintechs in countries with more lockdown restrictions reported an average of 10% increase in full-time employees, while fintechs in economies with fewer lockdown restrictions actually saw their full-time staff decrease by 19%.

Launch of new products and services and changes to existing ones

Fintechs have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by implementing changes to their existing products, services and policies. Two-thirds of surveyed firms reported making two or more changes to their products or services in response to COVID-19, and 30% reported being in the process of doing so. The most prevalent changes across all fintech sectors were fee or commission reductions and waivers, changes to qualification, and onboarding criteria and payment easements.

Fintechs have also launched a range of new products and services in response to the pandemic. Some 60% of surveyed firms reported launching a new product or service in response to COVID-19, with a further 32% reporting that they were in the process of doing so.

The most prevalent new change for digital payments firms was the development and deployment of additional payments channels (introduced by 38% of firms), for digital lending it was value-added non-financial services (e.g., information services; introduced by 35% of firms) and, for digital capital raising it was hosting COVID-19-specific funding campaigns (introduced by 35% of firms).

Despite significant willingness, fintech involvement in relief remains limited

To date, fintech involvement in the delivery of COVID-19-related relief is limited, despite significant willingness by firms. More than a third of surveyed firms reported a willingness to participate in the delivery of one or more COVID-19-related relief measures or schemes.

While this demonstrates strong interest, the participation rates of fintech firms in relief schemes ranged between 7% for NGO-led measures to 13% for government job-retention measures. Fintech firms were most likely to indicate interest to participate in the delivery of industry-led relief measures (32% of firms), government match-funding schemes (32%), and government-bases stimulus funding to MSMEs (30%).

Expert thoughts

“This study reveals a global fintech industry that has been largely resilient in spite of COVID-19. Nonetheless, its growth must be interpreted with nuance and in the context of unevenness, and the opportunities for the industry should be juxtaposed with the challenges it faces,” said Bryan Zhang, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance.

“Fintech has shown its potential to close gaps in the delivery of financial services to households and firms in emerging markets and developing economies,” said Caroline Freund, World Bank Global Director for Finance, Competitiveness and Innovation. “This survey shows how the fintech industry is adapting to the pandemic and offers insights for regulators and policymakers seeking to promote innovation and reap the benefits of fintech, while managing risks to consumers, investors, financial stability, and integrity.”

“Covid-19 is accelerating change in how people interact with financial services, which has led to unprecedented demand from developing countries to progress their transition to secure and inclusive digital finance. Whilst it is encouraging to see the growth reported by Fintechs in the study, there are also cautionary indicators that some firms are suffering a deterioration in their financial position and are concerned over their ability to raise capital in the future. This is something that the FinTech community should be mindful of given the significant economic opportunities that Fintech presents,” said James Duddridge MP, the UK’s Minister for Africa at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO).

The report was based on survey responses from 1,385 fintech firms in 169 countries. The survey was carried out by CCAF, the World Bank and the World Economic Forum.

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A ‘digital canyon’: 1.3 billion school-aged children can’t log on to internet at home

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An eight-year-old child studies at home in Ahavaz, Iran, as schools are closed due to COVID-19. Many pupils in disadvantaged areas of the city do not have electronic devices and cannot access virtual lessons. Photo: UNICEF

A staggering two-thirds of world’s school-aged children – 1.3 billion children aged 3-17 – do not have internet connection in their homes, preventing them from learning vital skills needed to compete in the modern economy, a new UN report has revealed. 

The UNICEFITU report How Many Children and Youth Have Internet Access at Home? also found a similar lack of access for young people aged 15-24, with 759 million or 63 per cent unconnected at home. 

The massive number “is more than a digital gap – it is a digital canyon”, said Henrietta Fore, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director. 

The lack of connectivity, she continued, doesn’t just limit children and young people’s ability to connect online, it isolates them from the work and prevents them from competing in the modern economy. 

“And in the event of school closures, such as those currently experienced by millions due to COVID-19, it causes them to lose out on education. Put bluntly: Lack of internet access is costing the next generation their futures,” Ms. Fore added. 

‘Education out of reach’ 

According to UNICEF, a quarter of a billion students worldwide are still affected by COVID-19-related school closures, forcing hundreds of millions of students to rely on virtual learning.  

For those with no internet access, education can be out of reach. Even before the pandemic, a growing cohort of young people needed to learn foundational, transferable, digital, job-specific and entrepreneurial skills to compete in the 21st century economy. 

‘A formidable challenge’ 

Houlin Zhao, International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Secretary-General, outlined that connecting rural populations remains a formidable challenge. 

“Large parts of rural areas are not covered with a mobile-broadband network, and fewer rural households have access to the internet. The gap in mobile broadband adoption and internet use between developed and developing countries is especially wide,” he said. 

Perpetuating inequalities 

The report also revealed that the digital divide is perpetuating inequalities between countries and communities. According to the report, globally, 58 per cent school-age children from richest households have internet connection at home, compared with only 16 per cent from the poorest households. 

The situation is similar between urban and rural populations and between high-income and low-income countries: around 60 per cent of school-aged children in urban areas do not have internet access at home, compared with around 75 per cent in rural households. School-aged children in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia are the most affected, with around 9 in 10 children not connected. 

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Top 3 Effective Strategies for Using Push Notifications

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A lot of businesses are actively using push marketing to raise their sales, attract more customers, and build a strong brand. Although some marketers achieve their goals, there are many who cannot make push marketing work for them. So, what are the secrets of successful push notifications? What key aspect of push marketing should you be aware of? In this post, we have prepared the top-3 most effective strategies that will make your business fly.

1. A/B Testing

Before sending a notification to a large audience, test its effectiveness with a small group of people. This will help you determine which parts of the notification are working and which should be reconsidered. Start by testing elements and factors such as:

  • Post content – You can measure how well users are responding to your posts by tracking your open or click rate. Your job is to find out what factors lead to an increase in your targets. Test how effective simple URLs, short sentences in a message are, etc. Refer to evadav.com/faq-publisher information for more details.
  • Frequency/timing – To find out how often to send push notifications, try different frequency options (for example, weekly and daily) and choose the one that will result in fewer unsubscriptions. You can also use metrics such as open rate and CTR to find out what time of day or night users are most likely to respond to your posts.
  • Message delivery method – Open rate, click-through rate, bounce rate, and conversion rate – all of these metrics indicate whether your push notifications are successfully engaging users. Use these data to determine which delivery method is most positively treated by your audience.

A/B testing will only be beneficial if you have quality tools at your disposal to measure success. You may not be able to get it right the first time around, but don’t be discouraged. Just keep testing!

2. Personalize Your Messages

To achieve the same level of personalization that messages from friends, family, and colleagues have, you should take into account all the details about the user’s identity. Event settings, language, and lifecycle – considering all these characteristics will help you make your message as personal and targeted as possible. You can go even further and segment users based on their activity on your website or landing page. It’s only when you start sending them notifications that are relevant to their interests, users will feel like you’re really trying to provide them with some value.

3. Avoid Complex Wording: Write Clearer

Interactive notifications will mean little if the content you communicate is of no value to the user. Most companies continue to use notifications as some kind of bait – as a piece of obscure, cryptic content, whose task is to lure the user back into the application. But notifications work more efficiently when they have some other meaning, a message.

A push notification can be considered successful if it:

  • Is written in a laconic form;
  • Conveys something interesting and intriguing to the user;
  • Justifies the user’s choice to perform a target action.

Companies that have worked hard on their push notifications engagement strategy end up gaining user loyalty and engagement, increased traffic, and more page views – metrics that impact readiness for conversion. And all this for a lot less than what you could invest in retargeting tools.

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