What is Artificial Intelligence?


In the field of artificial intelligence (AI), computer science is being leveraged to create intelligent machines that more closely resemble humans in their functions. Having access to abundant knowledge, including categories, properties, and relationships between various information sets is the basis of the knowledge engineering that allows computers to simulate human perception, learning, and decision-making. For example, machine learning is a subset of AI that refers to computers programmed with algorithms that respond to new inputs after being trained on a different learning data set, resulting in their ability to act and react without being explicitly programmed to do so. Neural networks is a significant area of AI research currently proving to be valuable for more natural user interfaces through voice recognition and natural language processing, allowing humans to interact with machines similarly to how they interact with each other. By design, neural networks model the biological function of animal brains to interpret and react to specific inputs such as words and tone of voice. As the underlying technologies continue to develop, AI has the potential to enhance online learning, adaptive learning software, and simulations in ways that more intuitively respond to and engage with students.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • One aspect of AI, or at least one technology often associated with AI, is Machine Learning. A simple definition is automated devices (e.g., computers) that are capable of learning tasks without actual programming for that task. In the extreme application, consider driverless cars or self-programming drones. However, there are numerous other applications, many of which abut the educational landscape. For example, machine learning processes that apply to information retrieval, sentiment alalysis (opinion mining), and software engineering.- Lawrence.Miller Lawrence.Miller Aug 17, 2016 8 Ways Machine Learning Will Improve Education - Lawrence.Miller Lawrence.Miller Aug 17, 2016 Thanks a lot - ole ole Aug 19, 2016
  • AI is already being used to provide 24/7 responses to student questions concerning student services. In time, subject area expertise will be added, creating a new kind of help desk for learning. AI will also be used in strategy, marketing, recruitment, personalization, and linking researchers ro each other and to projects with common ground, and to helping the university link with industry. - david.c.gibson david.c.gibson Sep 11, 2016
  • Scenarios akin to the "Interface University" described in David Staley's article on the future of the university (http://er.educause.edu/articles/2015/11/the-future-of-the-university-speculative-design-for-innovation-in-higher-education ), where AI is used to allow students to "think with machines", provide some of the most interesting and powerful incentives for the incorporation of AI in higher ed.- rubenrp rubenrp Oct 2, 2016

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • There is a famous quote about any new technology that is sufficiently advanced will seem like magic...so we have to keep in mind that AI is real but has limitations. It also might be important to discuss expert systems type of AI with the search for an AI of general intelligence. Both types are important, are already available for use and need to be used within their boundary areas. - david.c.gibson david.c.gibson Sep 11, 2016
  • AI can be opaque in its functioning, so interfaces that make its workings clear will be needed for trust in its adoption. IBM has done quite a bit of work on this front, as exemplified in its prototype interfaces for medical AI systems: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ibm_research_zurich/10173949393/in/set-72157636361743526/ - rubenrp rubenrp Oct 2, 2016
  • Deep and Machine Learning
    Deep and Machine Learning is likely to help bring in innovations to teaching and learning. Smart Flower recognition system is an example. This reminds me of Genome matching databases etc that has been around for sometime. I feel innovations in technology with deep and machine learning would mean that there can be more novel applications, which allow students to say for instance, take a photo, research on information on that, communicate on that etc. Searches need not be restricted to texts. It could be by pictures, voices. - nacha_sockalingam nacha_sockalingam Sep 30, 2016. [Editor's Note: Adding here from RQ2.]

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on higher education?

  • Tom Vander Ark has a nice post on Getting Smart that suggests 8 ways that machine learning will impact education. They are: (1) Intelligent analytics that organize & optimize content, (2) Learning analytics that track student knowledge & recommend next steps, (3) Dynamic academic scheduling, (4) Grading systems that assess and score student responses to assessments and assignments (5) Process intelligence tools analyze large amounts of structured and unstructured data, visualize workflows and identify new opportunities, (6) Matching teachers and schools, (7) Predictive analytics and data mining to learn from expertise to map patterns of expert teachers, and (8) Automating back office functions to run schools.- ole ole Aug 30, 2016
  • I'd add to Tom's list: Predictive analytics for selecting right candidates to academic programs, helping students (using machine learning) to choose the right set of courses to take for a term, models for early detection of students with high probability of desertion, etc. - jreinoso jreinoso Sep 11, 2016
  • One day AI could fuel personal tutors or avatars (see the show "Human") so that students can interact and learn from them, - deone.zell deone.zell Oct 1, 2016
  • I think AI will continue to evolve and increase its presence in our daily lives in the next 3-5 years, we will be chatting and doing business with AI on a daily basis. In education we will likely see personal and performance coaching solutions. The questions around Ethics will likely continue to be part of the conversation - mayaig mayaig Oct 3, 2016

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • Here are some Machine learning products and applications identified in the Tom Vander Ark article (see link under potential impact: These correspond to the 8 areas identified: (1) Gooru Learning Navigator, IBM Watson Content Analytics, (2) Adaptive learning systems such as DreamBox, ALEKS, Reasoning Mind, Knewton OR Game-based learning applications such as ST Math, Mangahigh, (3) NewClassrooms learning analytics to schedule personalized math learning experiences, (4) Pearson’s WriteToLearn and Turnitin’s Lightside can score essays and detect plagiarism, (5) BrightBytes Clarity reviews research and best practices, creates evidence-based frameworks, and provides a strength gap analysis, (6) MyEdMatch and TeacherMatch are "eHarmony for schools," (7) Civitas learning has developed predictive analytics for student success, (8) EDULOG does school bus scheduling for K-12. - Lawrence.Miller Lawrence.Miller Aug 17, 2016 - ole ole Aug 30, 2016

  • The OpenAI Project https://openai.com/blog/ and Google's TensorFlow https://www.tensorflow.org/ are examples of some of the open source code now available for use in AI projects at academic institutions.- rubenrp rubenrp Oct 2, 2016

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