AI use cases that are shifting the higher ed landscape

“Imagine if universities could determine a student’s success or failure outcome before granting them admissions. Well, it’s not as far-fetched as one might think”

As the world of EdTech buzzes with new AI-powered developments, Ashish Fernando, the Founder and CEO of iSchoolConnect, talks about the effect of AI in student engagement, classroom education, student retention, and more.

AI in the higher education sector has been steadily increasing and spanning a broad swath of uses ranging from chatbots to augmented reality and more. Here are six groundbreaking technologies that I think, will change the face of education technology.

  1. Conversational AI for student engagement

Conversational AI isn’t simply limited to Alexa, Siri, Facebook, Google, and similar industries anymore. Universities worldwide are turning to chatbots as a means of student engagement and application management.

The conversational assistants use advanced natural language processing to function seamlessly and help students with information about the university campus, academics, student life, and more. From Georgia Tech’s ‘Jill Watson’ to New York University’s ‘BobCat’, the presence of AI in education technology is evident and the universities are certainly keeping up.

  1. Evaluate SOP’s and essays at scale 

Essays and Statements of Purpose are some of the most crucial parts of a prospective or current student’s assessment. They account for a weightage of about 30% of a student’s overall admission profile. However, the assessment of these documents can be highly time-consuming. That’s when AI-powered document editors come into play.

These tools analyse essays and pieces of content to give an accurate assessment of factors such as grammar, sentence length, active voice, word count, etc. Additionally, it can identify the main focus of each paragraph within the written content, such as motivation, work experience, etc.

The dual-use of this use case allows students to write better content while assisting the university admissions office to efficiently pick quality candidates.

  1. Real time behavioral analysis with AI

From video surveillance to facial recognition, the presence of AI in video analytics isn’t novel. However, its progress in the realm of higher education is certainly exciting. In 2017, the team at iSchoolConnect developed a unique technology called the Video Interview Analyzer.

This AI-powered tech analyses a variety of parameters such as facial movement, gestures and voice pitch and gives detailed insights on the user’s confidence, assertiveness, and several other behavioral characteristics.

This not only lets universities and organisations get a deeper assessment of a candidate during an interview but also, allows students to take job interview training from their mobile devices and get real-time feedback on their performance.

  1. Machine learning for student retention

Universities across the globe are looking into strategies to boost student retention and increase engagement. According to the EDUCAUSE Horizon Report 2019, there have been several EdTech developments geared towards student retention spanning 2012-2019.

Some of the most prominent AI and ML-based technologies employed over the years include adaptive learning technologies, gamification, robotics, virtual assistants, etc.

Not only that, an article from the Wall Street Journal states that some institutions track prospective students’ online interactions. The intent is to gauge interest and gain information for the subsequent student admissions.

“Universities across the globe are looking into strategies to boost student retention and increase engagement”

  1. Augmented reality in classroom education

Blogs, articles, and research papers are a thing of the past and virtual reality is the future. This unique piece of technology allows students to experience and learn subjects by actively engaging with the VR environment. Studying with the help of augmented reality stimulates interest and thus, substantially increases information retention among students.

Along with the benefits of this technology in higher education, VR also helps students recognise the challenges they might face in a professional working environment.

  1. AI in student profiling

Imagine if universities could determine a student’s success or failure outcome before granting them admissions. Well, it’s not as far-fetched as one might think. Recent reports suggest that there are ways for AI to gauge a student’s success rate. Machine learning algorithms can predict student performance trajectories based on their historical data.

This will help universities admit optimum candidates in their institution and also allow them to spot students who are struggling academically, early on and take supportive action accordingly.

Artificial intelligence is undeniably changing the higher education sector and the evidence lies in these technological advancements in the EdTech industry. If universities worldwide were to have even a few of these AI-powered tools at their disposal, their potential for progress is tremendous. Only one question remains: Are the universities ready for this change?

About the author: Ashish Fernando is the Founder and CEO of iSchoolConnect.