How AI is Being Successfully Applied in Higher Education
The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in today’s society has been a topic of debate in recent times. Nevertheless, the use of AI in higher education institutions all across the world is becoming more and more popular. Simply put, AI leverages the use of machines and computers so that they can perform tasks that would normally require human intelligence. It uses large quantities of data to find patterns which could not be immediately found by a human mind and then uses those findings to predict what could happen. While we are not currently at the point where robot teachers are teaching our children, AI is playing a significant part in the day-to day running of our higher education institutions.
Below are examples of how AI is being successfully applied in higher education!
Chatbots to support students
Chatbots aren’t just being used by online clothing shops! Universities and college’s around the world have begun to use AI ran chatbots to carry out a wide array of tasks within their institution. A chatbot is a computer program that mimics human conversation in order to attempt aid in resolving a question or query. It learns from every conversation to improve how efficient its response is. The enrollment department in Ocean County College in New Jersey partnered with Admithub to launch a chatbot called Reggie in 2017. Reggie answered 14,000 enrollment questions for prospective students in it’s first year using a knowledge base of 1,200 questions. By the end of that year it had doubled its knowledge base, engagement had increased by 26% and Reggie was able to answer 98% of questions effectively without the need for human input. In times when enrolment numbers into higher education has seen a decrease, use of chatbots like Reggie can help prospective students take the next step and enrol in university.
Another example of the successful application of AI in higher education can be seen in Georgia State University who uses a chatbot named Pounce to send smart text messages to students during the summer to encourage them to return to school in the autumn. The university has since seen dropout rates decrease by over 20%!
Freeing up time for staff
Teaching assistants in higher education face significant workloads and are often responsible for assisting a large number of students. Georgia Institute of Technology has introduced AI onto its campus to help relieve some of this workload. The members of a Master’s AI class assumed that their online teaching assistant, Jill Watson, was a human. However, the professors had created an AI teaching assistant by giving it thousands of questions and answers that were asked over previous semesters and then used Jill for the class message board. Over 300 class members posted almost 10,000 messages per semester onto the message board and Jill was able to answer the questions with a 97% success rate. “This took some of the burden off of the other 8 teaching assistants in the class, who were then able to concentrate their efforts into the more important aspects of the course,” says Jack Paul, an educator at OXEssays and Assignment Services.
Perhaps one of the most important ways that AI can positively impact higher education is through its potential to personalise individual student learning programs. AI can create personalised pathways for each student based on their pace and progress, knowledge gaps and preferences. If educators were to do this by themselves for each student in their respective classes it would take up far too much and would take away from the learning experience for the students.
For example, some AI embedded software can use predetermined data on a student's literacy skills to provide texts of different difficulty levels for each specific student and prevents students from being left behind or losing interest. “Studies on the effectiveness of personalised learning have proven inconclusive for the most part but it has serious potential in improving the efficiency of our higher education institutions,” explains Daniel Trodson, a writer at Writing Populist and Simplegrad.
While these are just some of the ways in which AI is being applied in higher education, there does remain some question marks over its full implementation. How accurate is the data being fed into the AI machine? What are the privacy issues associated with AI technology? Will students trust AI? It’s potential is there for all to see but these are all questions that must be addressed before AI can properly be implemented into our schools and colleges around the world.