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The Future of Artificial Intelligence in Higher Education

Feb 11, 2021 11:28:06 AM / by Ryan Cameron

Many technological advancements have made a positive impact in our lives, from the added convenience of voice recognition and the virtual personal- and teachers’- assistants to self-driving cars, as well as the reactive machines used in games for our entertainment. Some forms of artificial intelligence indeed make our lives easier. 

However, there are some hesitations about it as well; many of which stem from misunderstandings or unrealistic views developed because of science fiction. The overall hope of the researchers dedicated to expanding the uses of artificial intelligence is motivated by the sheer desire to produce applications that can improve lives, not replace jobs or the people that use the AI applications.

Integration with Virtual Reality: Virtual reality has come a long way in recent years. While researchers dabbled in it as long ago as the 1960s, it was launched to the public in 2012 with the Kickstarter Oculus Rift headset. Since then, VR has been incorporated into various fields, not only on the entertainment scale but also in the learning aspects of the medical, health, physical therapy and architectural environments. 

The learning possibilities with virtual technology are vast, allowing individuals to visit places and participate in experiences in a 3D virtual world that fills the senses while expanding knowledge.

Streamlining Repetitive Tasks: When AI is used to complete repetitive tasks, such as grading assignments, instructors can use that time instead to focus on teaching.

End-to-End Personalized Experience: AI learning programs can be customized to accommodate the individual personalities of students, based on the pace and style in which they learn best. From the teaching standpoint, the consistent analytical data compiled within these courses provide better insight to the instructor about each student. 

24-Hour Access: Students have access to AI teaching assistants around the clock. This is a major benefit for students with varying schedules, as each one of us has our own personal biorhythm.

Class-Student Fit Evaluation: Specialized classes for students who are more academically driven have existed for decades; being selected through testing, which requires time from instructors. With AI, talented and motivated students can be selected through data assessment that is automatically compiled. For example, suppose an instructor is seeking a few individuals who are particularly driven or possess specific qualities available to perform a difficult task, yet he has six separate classes of students. Rather than evaluating each student from all six classes, the AI technology is able to produce reports for easy selection.

Closing the Language Barrier: Artificial intelligence provides a way to close the gap of a language barrier with real-time translation. Having this accessible in the classroom would improve interaction among a group and prevent the individuals learning a new language from feeling isolated.

There is never a perfect scenario with anything. All in all, if artificial intelligence is developed so that it provides students with more opportunities and assists instructors by alleviating much of the repetitive work, then it is conceivable, the pros will far outweigh the cons. 

What’s Next for Higher Education?

Computers have largely been a part of our lives for the past four decades and during that time, the advances in machine learning have quietly integrated artificial intelligence into our lives. AI has made an entry into education, both in theory and in practice. 

When the use of AI is not accepted into our educational system, ultimately it will be students who pay the price. An absence of student career readiness and instructional personalization have degraded the quality of education today. AI’s main benefit is found in the time-saving nature of the technology in action. 

Through careful utilization of AI, low value, time-intensive tasks can be automated. This grants teachers and support staff a new advantage that may help them re-focus their energy on personalizing education and improving the total student experience. 

There is a logical fear that AI will strip us of meaningful human interactions. Relationships are crucial to human development and teachers play a major role in that growth process. AI won’t steal our personal relationships, in fact, AI will offer a means to improve them. 

Ryan Cameron

Written by Ryan Cameron

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