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Friday, September 28, 2018

Pushing the Boundaries of Learning With AI | Digital Learning - Inside Higher Ed

Photo: Lindsay McKenzie
Lindsay McKenzie, Technology Reporter at Inside Higher Ed notes, "A growing number of academics are experimenting with new technologies powered by artificial intelligence, but many of the technologies aren't yet ready for prime time."

Rahul Divekar, a Rensselaer computer science graduate student, demonstrates an AI-assisted Mandarin Chinese language-learning aid under development at the Cognitive and Immersive Systems Lab at RPI.
Photo: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, students are immersing themselves in Chinese culture without setting foot outside their classroom.

The Mandarin Project, a collaboration between RPI, located in upstate New York, and the tech giant IBM, places students in a virtual world where they can practice their Mandarin language skills in a series of simulated scenarios, such as ordering lunch in a restaurant or taking a tai chi class.

How AI helps students learn Mandarin at RPI


The project aims to make students feel as if they are actually in China, without the inconvenience of traveling there, says Helen Zhou, assistant professor of communication and media at RPI, who has been actively involved in designing the project.

In a high-tech "cognitive immersive room," a classroom with a 360-degree floor-to-ceiling screen, students can practice their Mandarin with artificial intelligence-powered animated characters (including a floating panda head). The CIR combines several emerging technologies -- natural language processing, speech-to-text and movement tracking -- to create a unique learning experience, said Zhou...

Computerized Teaching Assistants
Zhou is just one of a growing number of professors experimenting with AI. At the Georgia Institute of Technology, Ashok Goel, professor of computer and cognitive science, has been working with virtual teaching assistants for several years. His most famous AI-powered assistant, Jill Watson, was built on IBM’s Watson platform. But Goel says his team has since developed its own technology and no longer relies on IBM’s Watson.

In 2016, Goel made headlines after revealing that some of his students (in a master’s-level online course in AI) were able to distinguish between AI and human TAs answering questions in a discussion forum. Now, two and a half years later, he said his students are “pretty good at figuring out what is AI,” though they still sometimes get “false positives.”
Read more... 

Source: Inside Higher Ed and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Channel (YouTube)