Successful AI Examples in Higher Education That Can Inspire Our Future
So much has been made of Artificial Intelligence (AI) potential to replace humans that its introduction to higher education may be met by resistance from faculty and staff who fear for their jobs.
It’s important to remember that, at its core, AI is just a computer program that does what it is programmed to do. Even if that is learning, it is machine learning. It is about finding correlations in data too voluminous for humans to grasp and using the findings to predict what will happen. Imagine, for a moment, the potential lying in the data emanating from Learning Management Systems like Pedagogue.
However, suppose correlations turn out not to be causations. In that case, AI cannot make the instant and intuitive turnabout that a human can, nor can it emit empathy or provide answers to spontaneous questions without copious data to derive them from. AI does what it does so that we can get on and do what we do. The best way to demonstrate its use and purpose is to provide examples of its successful application.
Chatbots for Enrollment and Retention Engagement
In November 2017, Ocean County College in New Jersey, partnering with AdmitHub, launched a chatbot named Reggie to answer enrollment-related questions for prospective students.
Reggie started with a knowledge base of 1,200 questions in its first year and responded to 14,000 questions instantly, 24/7. It doubled its knowledge base in that year, and by the second year, engagement was up from pre-Reggie rates of 10% to 26%. Reggie could answer 98% of questions without referring them to a human – including ‘Where can I get pizza?’
Georgia State University had similarly positive results when they introduced an AI chat or named Pounce for smart text messaging students during the summer holidays to get them to return to school in the fall.
Dropout rates were reduced by 22% because first-generation college students from low-income backgrounds were finally given the required one-on-one attention – something that wasn’t feasible for a human to provide.
Penn State and the University of California, Davis use an AI invigilator called Examity for online testing. Biometric keystroke analysis, predictive analytics, and video review are analyzed to verify students’ identities and protect content integrity.
For ways in which AI is being used to prevent cheating in traditional examination settings, read Matthew Lynch’s “How Schools can Fight Cheating with Artificial Intelligence.”
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, partnering with IBM, has created a Cognitive Immersive Room where an AI agent helps students studying Mandarin to do so in an immersive environment as if they are in China.
Researchers at the University of Montreal are partnering with Classcraft to explore artificial intelligence to measure student engagement. Classcraft’s Engagement Management System (EMS) reframes student’s progress in school as a game they play together throughout the year.
The next logical step from measuring learning engagement is to create personalized learning programs for students based on their level of engagement to specific content and teaching methods.
AI can be a powerful tool for education, but, like introducing any technology, the faculty must be part of the implementation. We are also only just beginning to understand the privacy issues at stake with AI technology. The focus in IT governance going forward will be on the ethical use of data more than compliance.