Wilfredo Rodriguez, Coordinator, EdTech
The term Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been used in different industries for over a decade. It is used more frequently in everyday conversations, and it has been applied to self-driving cars, trucks, robots, and in many other applications. However, what is AI? Well, according to John McCarthy, a professor at Stanford University in the Computer Science Department, “It is the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs. It is related to the similar task of using computers to understand human intelligence, but AI does not have to confine itself to methods that are biologically observable. Intelligence is the computational part of the ability to achieve goals in the world. Varying kinds and degrees of intelligence occur in people, many animals, and some machines” (p. 2, 2004). This article will introduce some of the uses of AI in higher education.
Artificial Intelligence has gained momentum in the car, finance, and marketing industries and the improvements are substantial. It also made its way into higher education in the form of improved messaging systems and chatbots. Many universities communicate important and accurate information to students by sending them texts and emails of important announcements about the application process, when payments are due, and current events that concern them. This information looks so personalized and accurate that it seems as if a human is the one writing them. Also, many college website visitors interact with chatbots, which can answer questions with great accuracy and handle more questions than people. Initially, the system needs questions and answers, but as time passes by, it will lean more and start creating a more robust structure. Admission offices utilize these types of software to read and analyze applications and make decisions. AI is being integrated into these systems to make them more consistent and smarter.
AI has been present in higher education for a long time, but it is getting more noticeable and consistent every day. It is way beyond simple data analysis and logic. It is making decisions based on the result of big data analysis (CAP Report, 2021). One tool that faculty has been using for a long time is Turnitin to detect plagiarism and AI is present. Turnitin does more than just detect plagiarism, it can reveal spelling mistakes, improper language usage, and more. Some software or programs are capable of reading and grading essay submissions without faculty interactions. Others make predictions about if the student will enroll, how much financial aid is needed, and if the student will succeed in college based on the student’s interaction with the website. Certain universities like Georgia State even have teaching assistants powered by AI and can answer students’ questions about class content (Newton, 2021). Others have AI software that can connect students with tutors, recommend reading materials, and grade students’ work since some classes are too large for faculty to handle this process. These types of tools can deliver individual lessons to students based on their responses. If a student responds better to written text or videos, the system will provide only that type of content.
In short, AI software has gained tremendous popularity in higher education as well as in many other areas. The improvement provided by AI might be just the beginning and it may move education forward at an accelerated speed by augmenting the solutions to current and past problems. Students and faculty can benefit from the implementation of more robust and mature AI tools in the near future.
CAP Report (2021). The Future of Testing in Education: Artificial Intelligence. Retrieved on July 11, 2022, from https://www.americanprogress.org/article/future-testing-education-artificial-intelligence/
McCarthy, John (2004). What Is Artificial Intelligence? Standford University, CA. Retrieved on July 10, 2022, from http://cse.unl.edu/~choueiry/S09-476-876/Documents/whatisai.pdf
Newton, Derek (2021). From Admissions to Teaching to Grading, AI Is Infiltrating Higher Education. The Hechinger Report. Retrieved on July 11, 2022, from https://hechingerreport.org/from-admissions-to-teaching-to-grading-ai-is-infiltrating-higher-education/