Using Artificial Intelligence and Data to Personalize Higher Education | 7wData

Using Artificial Intelligence and Data to Personalize Higher Education | 7wData

Artificial intelligence is rapidly transforming and improving the ways that industries such as healthcare, banking, energy, and retail operations function. However, there is one industry that offers incredible potential for the application of artificial intelligence technologies: education. The introduction of artificial intelligence can bring significant opportunities and challenges to higher education.

Personalized learning and the challenges of higher ed

Institutions of higher education face a broad range of challenges, including disengaged learners, high dropout rates, and the ineffectiveness of a conventional “one-size-fits-all” way of teaching. When data analytics and artificial intelligence are used responsibly, Personalized learning activities can be created that might, in turn, help to resolve some of these challenges.

With a personalized learning experience, every learner would enjoy a unique educational approach that’s fully tailored to his or her abilities and needs. This could directly increase learners’ motivation and reduce their likelihood of dropping out. It could also offer professors a better comprehension of each learner’s learning process, which could enable them to teach more effectively. Here’s what this might look like: Artificial intelligence-based learning systems would give professors useful information about learners’ learning styles, abilities, and progress; these systems would also suggest ways to customize teaching methods to a learner’s individual needs.

For instance, some learners might be experiencing learning difficulties or require tutoring to keep up. Some might be advancing so rapidly that they are not intellectually challenged and would benefit from additional study materials or assignments. In both scenarios, artificial intelligence learning systems would help learners reach their full potential by identifying problems early enough to allow for appropriate corrective measures to be taken, possibly preventing learners from dropping out.

For an artificial intelligence-based learning system to work properly, big data would be needed to train it. As discussed later in this article, data would need to be used ethically, and learners need to be informed about how their data might be shared and used by artificial intelligence algorithms.

Why personal data is so important

In theory, the application of artificial intelligence and personalized learning sounds like a perfect solution to some of the most widespread educational issues. However, AI technology still has a long way to go before it can fully realize its potential.

We all know that the main ingredient of personalized learning is a large amount of learner data. My own experience in lecturing at universities around the world has shown me that today’s learners are more protective of the privacy of their data than previous generations, most likely due to the security breaches and data scandals they’ve been exposed to.  However, if learner data can be collected and processed in a way that is ethical, secure, and transparent, it will allow artificial intelligence to be used to effectively improve just about every area of study.

The University of Murcia in Spain began testing an artificial intelligence-enabled chatbot to answer learners’ questions about the university and its areas of study. The school’s administrators were surprised to find out that the chatbot was able to answer more than 38,708 questions, answering correctly more than 91% of the time. This chatbot provided immediate answers to learners outside regular office hours, but university officials also found that the chatbot increased learner motivation. Benefits were achieved without the need to change the organization of the staff.

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