We are all well aware of the changes COVID-19 has brought about in the higher education sector. Yes, students’ lives have been disrupted, admissions deferred, and plans to travel have been put on hold. But if there’s one positive result that has come out of this situation, it is the increased use of technology in higher education. Remote lessons and assessment methods involve various softwares and tools that can recreate the classroom environment in a virtual setting. The incorporation of these methods is not a new development by any stretch of imagination. But, what the pandemic has done is bring forth the potential of innovative technologies to improve existing processes in higher education. One such technology is Artificial Intelligence (AI). Let us shed some light on how AI will be an inseparable part of university education in the years to come.
Mentoring students and streamlining processes
Chatbots are already proving to be a vital resource for higher education institutes, and their role in today’s remote learning context has only become more essential. With the help of pre-entered student data and that gathered from interactions, chatbots can act as mentors for students, helping them become self directed and self sufficient in their learning journeys. On the other hand, colleges can also ramp up their customer support capacity without recruiting additional resources, thanks to chatbots. These can answer students’ frequently asked questions around courses, admissions, and internal processes. Chatbots aren’t the only AI-based method to streamline student queries though. One of the world’s best schools, the London School of Economics, has introduced an inquiry management app to help transform its interactions with prospective students. The first step involved creating an enquiry form that captures the key data its recruitment and admissions team needs. The data ensures the enquiry is directed to the right department and it helps them answer the questions proactively — sometimes even before the query has been raised! Showing learners the right way Preparing for higher education can be a complex process. Students may need direction regarding courses to choose and financial assistance, among other things — and this is where AI-powered recommendation engines come in. Advanced search algorithms based on student data and extensive filter options mean students can use these to search for the courses and scholarships that are best suited to their academic requirements, skills, and financial situations. This is just one of the ways in which AI charts out a highly personalized learning experience for every student. Striking a balance with automation
With learning going online, it’s not just students who are struggling to strike a balance between the personal and professional. Educators too must learn how to manage their tasks better to make time both for recreational pursuits and to give each student more individual attention during class hours. And AI helps with this too! It can take on repetitive tasks such as grading multiple choice tests — freeing up the educator’s time — and offer recommendations on how to close gaps in learning and optimize processes. Keeping tabs on emotional health
AI might soon have the ability to take note of students’ mental health. A team from the Department of Artificial Intelligence in Madrid, Spain, is working on a robot called ARTIE (Affective Robot Tutor Integrated Environment). This robot will be able to identify the emotional state of a student through keyboard strokes and mouse movement, and offer appropriate intervention. Based on the data received, ARTIE will use words of encouragement, positive gestures and attempt to motivate the student to achieve a particular goal!
It’s evident that the potential of AI in higher education is tremendous — it can streamline processes, personalize learning experience, boost student engagement, and so much more. If there’s anything this pandemic has taught us, it is that change is inevitable, and sometimes even necessary. Perhaps it’s time for educational institutes to look at AI in the same light — and embrace it as a tool that will transform higher learning for the better.