Just as artificial intelligence (AI) tools are poised to reshape many aspects of business, the rapidly evolving technology will also play an increasing role in the education space.
Attention is currently focused on how AI can streamline many of the processes that existing with organisations. The software can assist with everything from spotting trends in large volumes of customer data to automating accounting and reporting tasks.
When it comes to education, AI can assist in a variety of ways. Just as in a business, the tools can be used to streamline administrative tasks, thus improving efficiency and reducing costs. For example, AI could assist a university with the processing of student enrolment applications or the reporting of academic results. In the finance department, the tools could remove the need for many existing manual processes and lead to more effective allocation of funding.
AI as a teacher
One of the most interesting applications of the technology in the tertiary education sector has appeared in the form of AI-powered software that can mark student exam papers. A study undertaken by researchers at Stanford University used AI tools to mark 15,000 essays at the same time as they were being reviewed by human teachers. The researchers found the grades recommended by the AI tools agreed with those made by the humans in 94.5% of cases.
Another interesting application of AI can be seen in a project undertaken at the US-based Georgia Institute of Technology. In 2014, one of the university’s professors, Ashok Goel, created an AI tool that provided online responses to questions from students. For five months, none of the students using the service realised they were actually interacting with a machine. Called Jill Watson, the automated teaching assistant was able to answer basic queries from students and offer natural language responses. This freed up human teaching assistants to focus on more complex questions posed by students. This application of AI shows how the technology could become much more ingrained in the education process in coming years. It could deliver introductory-level training and basic information leaving human lecturers free to focus on more complex and abstract ideas. […]