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Is Higher Ed Missing Out the Promise of Machine Learning

Machine learning and big data have afforded tremendous improvements to almost every field, including higher education. For example:

The University of Aberystwyth in the UK has already developed—over a decade ago, in fact—the necessary robotic infrastructure to carry out scientific research on its own: developing hypotheses, conducting experiments, and analyzing required datasets. This represents a significant development in the experimental and research arena in order to ensure the accuracy of results and allow the human employees to focus on a more critical function

The publisher Elsevier is using AI to analyze literature reviews, measure plagiarism, and identify forged numerical or statistical features and details. This will ensure that unethical behavior is flagged before any publication goes live. Similarly, higher education institutions could benefit from such practices by implementing AI-induced mechanisms that would prevent malpractices in the assessment process, resulting in higher quality results.

Intelligent chatbots based on natural language programming (NLP) are being already used by universities across the globe. The Technical University of Berlin (TUB), for example, has developed a chatbot system that can guide students around campus and help them choose their courses. Administrators at the Spain’s University of Murcia were surprised to learn that its chatbot system answered 91% of 38,708 questionsaccurately. The chatbot enabled the university to operate outside of working hours and had a positive psychological impact on students—they became more motivated to use the chatbot over time, knowing there would be a tool to communicate directly with the university administration on an ongoing basis.

Virtual assistants play a key role at many universities. Carnegie Mellon University, through its Open Learning Initiative (OLI), has developed AI-induced cognitive tutors to engage students. This had positive results in students’ overall performance and dedication levels. Similarly, at Georgia Institute of Technology, a virtual teaching assistant (TA), using IBM’s Watson Platform, was implemented in order to provide responses to about 40,000 questions during the course ‘Knowledge-Based Artificial Intelligence’. This ensured the prevention of low student retention rates and positive class engagement.

What AI Can Bring to Higher Ed

Some of the benefits of utilizing emerging technologies such as machine learning in the higher education sector include, for example, a considerable improvement in the learning experience and the capacity to analyze the managerial structure on the campus at all possible levels, leading to an optimal organization of tasks. Additionally, it allows the reception of opinions and inputs of computer software. Consider the following use cases.

A New Way to Plan Programs

Do you remember the number of variables involved in planning one single academic program? The number of options you have at your disposal? The ever-growing number of combinations of courses, lecture rooms, or students to be allocated? How long does it take a human being to reach that endgame decision?

Dr. Raul Villamarin Rodriguez

Dean, School of Business, Woxsen University,

Quantum AI | European Commission