Artificial Intelligence is Critical to the Future of Higher Education

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The world is now at a crucial point in technology evolution. The future depends on its deployment across all industries today, including in higher education.

Artificial Intelligence-based technologies are thought to promote rather than hinder democratic values including freedom, equality, and transparency. AI-based technologies can become a tool to promote equity and personalized learning.

For the past 20 years, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has made some advances in higher education, but not enough. Although the engagement of human teachers will be required for some more years, it is likely that in a distant future the role of human educators will suffer dramatic changes when AI-powered robots enter the classroom.

Yet, today, the collaboration between human teachers and Artificial Intelligence is paramount to prepare the future generations for the AI-infused work environment that awaits them.

Artificial Intelligence enhances higher education at all levels. One of the most relevant tasks of AI in education is to provide personalization at scale. However, resolving what is the best way to integrate human interaction and face-to-face learning with the promise of AI technologies remains a great challenge.

As a consequence, there has been a significant sluggish adoption of AI in most of the colleges and universities at global scale. Sadly, this has positioned the education sector among the late adopters of AI.

However, exciting news about the University of Buckingham in England, announcing the world’s first program degree incorporating Industry 4.0 technologies has given wings to Education 4.0.

According to Stanford University’s One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence: Artificial Intelligence and Life in 2030, interactive machine tutors can now be matched to students for teaching science, math, language, and other disciplines. Natural Language Processing (NLP), Machine Learning, and crowdsourcing have boosted online learning and enabled teachers in higher education to multiply the size of their classrooms while addressing individual students’ learning needs and styles.

Over the next ten years, the use of AI and other technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Holograms, and Virtual Learning Environments (VLE) in the classroom as well as in the home is likely to expand significantly, provided they can be integrated with face-to-face learning.

The One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence: Artificial Intelligence and Life in 2030 is a long-term investigation of the field of AI and its influences on people, their communities, and society. The study is periodically reviewed by experts in the field.

AI in higher education and the three paradigms

The development of computing and information processing techniques has brought Artificial Intelligence to a place where its many applications can be extensively applied in higher education. AI in education (AIEd) opens countless new opportunities, unmasks potentials, and challenges both educators and students in educational practices.

A recent research paper by Fan Ouyang and Pengcheng Jiao from Zhejiang University entitled Artificial Intelligence in Education: The Three Paradigms, proposes that in the short history of AI in education, we can differentiate three paradigms for Artificial Intelligence in Education (AIEd) as follows:

Paradigm One: AI-directed - Learner-as-recipient

AI is used to represent knowledge models and direct cognitive learning while learners are recipients of AI service

Paradigm Two: AI-supported - Learner-as-collaborator

AI is used to support learning while learners work as collaborators with AI

Paradigm Three: AI-empowered - learner-as-leader

AI is used to empower learning while learners take agency to learn

The developing trend of AIEd has been focused toward empowering learning agency and personalization as well as enabling learners to reflect on learning and inform AI systems to adapt accordingly. The ultimate goal is toward a learner-centered, data-driven, and personalized learning experience.

In preparation for more AIEd and Education 4.0, join Fierce Education and higher education executives for a ‘Business & Leadership: Summer Edition’ virtual event on July 14 to discuss immediate topics that need to be tackled this summer, and to learn what some university leaders are doing to alter their business models to excel in the Education 3.0 world, a stepping stone into the future of education. Register here.