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Sunday, August 27, 2017

That’s ‘Professor Bot,’ to you! How AI is changing education | Digital Trends

Photo: Dyllan Furness
"There didn’t seem to be anything strange about the new teaching assistant, Jill Watson, who messaged students about assignments and due dates in professor Ashok Goel’s artificial intelligence class at the Georgia Institute of Technology" continues Digital Trends.

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Photo: Getty Images

Her responses were brief but informative, and it wasn’t until the semester ended that the students learned Jill wasn’t actually a “she” at all, let alone a human being. Jill was a chatbot, built by Goel to help lighten the load on his eight other human TAs.

“We thought that if an AI TA would automatically answer routine questions that typically have crisp answers, then the (human) teaching staff could engage the students on the more open-ended questions,” Goel told Digital Trends. “It is only later that we became motivated by the goal of building human-like AI TAs so that the students cannot easily tell the difference between human and AI TAs. Now we are interested in building AI TAs that enhance student engagement, retention, performance, and learning.”

AI is quickly integrating into every aspect of our lives and, like the students in Goel’s class, we’re not always aware when we’re engaging with it. But AI’s influence on education will be clear in the coming years as these systems ease into classrooms everywhere.

Like computers and the internet, AI will alter both the face and function — the what, why, and how — of education. Many students will be taught by bots instead of teachers. Intelligent systems will advise, tutor, and grade assignments. Meanwhile, courses themselves will fundamentally change, as educators prepare students for a job market in which millions of roles have been automated by machines.

AI in education — or AIEd — sounds like something from a far-off future, but it’s already a topic of interest for academics and businesses alike. AI-powered educational toys have flooded the market over the past few years, many of them via crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, where they often exceed their financial goals.

Professor Einstein, for example, teaches kids about science via goofy facial expressions and a robotic German lilt. Developed by Hanson Robotics and supported by IBM Watson and Microsoft’s Xiaobing chatbot, the company’s Kickstarter campaign raised nearly $113,000. Meanwhile, the startup Elemental Path offers CogniToys, an array of educational smart dinosaurs designed to play games, hold conversations, and help kids learn to spell. Their Kickstarter campaign raked in a whopping $275,000 from backers in 2015.

Source: Digital Trends