Exploring AI’s Promising Expansion in Higher Education


Exploring AI’s Promising Expansion in Higher Education

There is a huge push to expand the use of AI in higher education.

Reasons for such are quite understandable as the future of higher education is closely linked with developments on latest technologies and computing capacities of new intelligent machines. Talking of intelligent machines, in this field advances in artificial intelligence opens to new possibilities as well as a set of challenges for teaching and learning in higher education.

As far as the possibilities are concerned they are way too high to ignore and this is the reason even after witnessing challenges, this technology is making inroads in the higher education sector. AI will help change and shape the future of Universities and higher education for the better. For instance, using AI brings in more efficiency in administrative areas such as admissions and giving students faster and more personalized feedback. By using AI, universities are able to streamline their processes, resulting in cost savings and better service levels.

Practical Usage of Artificial Intelligence in Colleges & Universities

Using AI as Teaching Assistants in Universities

At the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for example, students are immersing themselves in Chinese culture without stepping out of classroom. You must be wondering but how is that possible? Isn’t it?

Well, the University in collaboration with the tech giant IBM has created a collective project called – ‘The Mandarin Project’ with the help of which they place students in the virtual world. So the students get the freedom to practice their mandarin language skills in a series of simulated scenarios.

Students get accurate feedback and coaching on correct pronunciation and sentence structure not by a teacher but with the help of AI. Professor Zhou of the University is actually experimenting with AI and thus is closely observing the performance of AI assistance to help students in the course in real time.

Similarly, at Georgia Institute of Technology makes good use of AI teaching assistants in undergraduate computing course. Professor Ashok Goel of computer and cognitive science has been working with virtual teaching assistants for several years. He had built his famous AI powered assistant- Jill Watson in collaboration with IBM.

Professor Goel’s students have become pretty good at ‘figuring out what is AI’ and in a discussion forum they could even distinguish between AI and human TAs.

AI Used as a Medium to Connect students

Andrew Magliozzi the co-founder and CEO of AdmitHub have built AI powered chat bot for institutions such as Arizona State University and California State University at Northridge. This is built with a purpose to recruit and enrol students and retain them.

The university has mace the chat bots as their mascot and communicates with students through the medium of text rather than through an app. To quote what Magliozzi said, “we find students have a higher willingness to be candid with these bots and discuss on personal issues such as health, finances, immigration status or family issues quite frankly as students don’t feel judged.”

AI offers Precise & Detailed Feedback on Students

Professor Erik Anderson, a Computer Science Assistant Professor at Cornell University has built a program in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Pennsylvania, University of Washington and Microsoft. The program is designed keeping in mind the maths teachers which will help them to discover how students arrived at incorrect answers. Speaking on the program, Anderson said, “The AI reverse- engineers the student thought process. It provides a much more nuanced view of what the student is doing.”

The program is still in its developing stage and with more enhancement made on the technology, Professor Anderson thinks, in the future it would be able to even understand more complex mathematical calculations and grade homework intelligently that will help and give students more ‘detailed feedback and awarding partial credit.’

Why isArtificial Intelligence poised to expand in Higher Education?

Using AI algorithms, Universities can actually personalize learning and deliver content suitable to the students’ needs and pace of learning.

By offering personalized and adaptive learning opportunities institutions will address the diverse needs of the learning ecosystem. And such was a dire need for all Universities from time immemorial as the ‘one module guide for all’ failed tremendously to nurture students’ talents and their learning ability as a whole.

With time as educational AI develops, students will be able to study sitting at their comfort zone and at their convenient time using whatever platform they want. Universities are working on using AI enabled smart building concepts to redesign learning spaces. Modern smart classroom spaces are now generally equipped with circular tables, laptops, flat screen monitors, multiple projectors and whiteboards to support active and collaborative learning.

This could well mean that teachers now get a chance to move away from a traditional classroom set-up to a more interactive style of working that helps encourage deeper learning approaches.

Ai innovations is also opening up an avenue for Universities to make use of the blockchain technology that is set to revolutionise the entire gamut of higher education. Higher education institutions will be using this advanced technology to automate recognition and the transfer of credits, potentially opening up learning opportunities across the universities. Soon universities will be using blockchain technology to even register and record the intellectual property rights arising from scholarly researches and how they would do so, are something that time would reveal as the technology goes conventional in the higher education space.

Joseph E. Aoun of the Northeastern University thinks that, Artificial Intelligence can become a more valuable supportive tool for the teachers if they start raising their voice towards its adoption. To quote Aoun’s words, “We will need to re-envision the curriculum, invest in experiential education and put lifelong learning at the heart of what we do. AI can serve as an enabler …so that teachers will have more time to develop to helping students integrate their learning.”

About the Author
Author: Ananya DebroyWebsite: http://edtechreview.in
Ananya is currently working as the Content Manager at EdTechReview. She has a keen interest in Ed Tech and the ways in which it is strengthening the education sector as a whole. She is an avid reader and loves to meet relevant people & unleash new updates on various innovations in the EdTech world as it indirectly helps her pen down well-researched blogs on the niche. Follow her @AnanyaDebRoy

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