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Can artificial intelligence deliver a personalised learning environment in HE?

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Analysis by machines should complement judgement by humans. Do you agree?

It’s early days in AI terms – we have mountains of data from which to deliver data-driven insights but overall machine learning and AI capabilities are still relatively new.

It’s easy to see how AI may become a larger part of our lecture theatres and tutor groups, though this will be far from replacing tutors. Experts believe that AI will become the best way to facilitate personalised learning without having to put extra pressures on a faculty or department. The tutor will be able to focus on the parts of his or her teaching that add value by deciding, based on the data, where more attention should be given. 

AI applications in learning management software could help universities and colleges individualise a learning path for their students in response to his or her progress. Advances in technologies such as AI have the ability to bring lecturers and students closer together by allowing effort to be channeled into the areas where help is needed the most, personalising the learning experience. This positively opposes the current model of delivering the same content to all students at the same time without any personalisation at all.

Technology has the ability to respond to the needs of the student.  This could be putting emphasis on certain topic areas, repeating topics that students may have been slower to learn or just generally delivering the learning experience at the student’s pace. The AI element means that students at different abilities can work together in one tutor group whilst the tutor facilitates that learning via help and support when needed or demanded. Adaptive learning will only expand and improve as AI technology advances to deliver a custom, tailored education.

Personalisation also provides a way for tutors to improve, as they may not be aware of the gaps in their lectures or educational materials that leave students adrift. AI can analyse where the same incorrect answers are given in tests and alert a tutor to overwhelming evidence that suggests there is a gap in the course notes or lecture plans – where consistently high levels of students are coming to the wrong conclusion or giving a wrong answer. This instant feedback mechanism works for both tutor and student, delivering direct feedback to the student instantly.

So whilst the technology is coming on in leaps and bounds and promises students a much more personalised way of learning, taking into account their abilities, tutors are not a thing of the past. They will supplement AI and become facilitators, assisting students who are struggling the most whilst providing the much needed human interaction and hands-on experience.

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