How universities are using AI to power operational efficiency

The role of technology in the education industry has witnessed some monumental trendsetters, right from 2019, which saw the advent of Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT), and Machine Learning. Artificial Intelligence (AI) has also been a significant contributor, revolutionizing education. Keeping up with the changing times, universities have started embracing AI. A Market Search Engine report has predicted that AI will become the primary trend and grow more than 45% by 2024. The pandemic has also proven to be a catalyst for positive change, accelerating universities’ education technology needs.

Artificial intelligence has been in use for quite some time now. Several industries have already leveraged this new-age technology and seen substantial improvements in their processes. The education sector is the latest to join the AI bandwagon. Colleges and universities globally have introduced AI in their instructional and institutional operations. Managing the entire operations—right from student screening to placements—has been an arduous task, but not anymore.

Leveraging the power of AI

AI’s influence across universities

Recent advancements in AI have made the academic world more convenient and personalized. It has not just made education accessible to students but helped universities automate and speed up tedious administrative tasks.

  1. Admissions and student screening: Leveraging cognitive technologies in the admission process helps universities predict the applicants most likely to be accepted and enrolled, their states and countries, courses they choose, and if they’ll become engaged alumni. AI speeds up the admission and administrative processes, including admissions decisions, visa processing in case of an international student, student housing selection, and course registration.

    Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, deployed algorithms to maximize their student recruitment with a competitive skill set.

  2. Round-the-clock query resolution: Educational institutes use chatbots to perform multiple functions, including conversations with students, answering queries besides assessing and correcting assignments. Chatbots also store, process, and communicate data.

    Georgia State University installed ‘Pounce’ to address issues/obstacles faced by students, including enrollment, class registration, placement exams, and financial aid applications. Students connect to the bot through smart-text messaging and resolve their queries 24/7.

  3. Video-assisted remote learning: Overnight, distant learning has become the top trend due to the pandemic, giving rise to online education to help students effectively learn without disruptions. Though AI can never replace a human, video calls for better teacher-student engagement, irrespective of their location. By using AI-enabled Learning Management System (LMS), teachers can monitor student progress. Students are classified based on their learning ability and content designed to suit each learning style. Reading assignments and long lectures can be broken into smaller segments, helping students understand them better. Machine learning, along with text summarization, can transcribe complete lectures. Students can also connect with their peers, exchange notes, and clear doubts, real-time, while teachers can pay attention to students who require personalized coaching.

    Ivy Tech, a community college, having campuses across Indiana, leveraged AI to enable its student base to perform better. An algorithm was developed to monitor students’ online behavior patterns and identify students at risk of failing. Around 3,000 students were assisted, thereby improving their chances of getting better grades.

  4. Immersive content with AR/VR: Virtual experiential learning has pushed the boundaries of traditional education. Immersive technologies like Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) provide a digitally constructed environment to enhance the learning experience. Students can perform science experiments, surgeries, or even explore the universe, along with their peers.

    Arizona State University introduced virtual reality (VR) labs for its biology students. They draw blood, analyze samples, manipulate DNA, and perform experiments, all without leaving their study spaces.

  5. Monitoring students’ performance: Machine learning tracks students’ progress and needs individually and provides insights for enhanced outcomes. Teachers can use these insights to better cater to each student’s academic and personal growth.

    Kent State University in Ohio has integrated AI in its developmental math program. With ALEKS (Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces), students take online classes in a monitored classroom, often assisted by a graduate assistant, faculty member, or peer tutor. Based on the student’s understanding, the difficulty of math problems is adjusted.

  6. Placement assistance: AI-powered platforms and digital analytics can help universities to manage placement and alumni efficiently. Conversational AI, powered by human expertise, is integrated to plan on-campus push, campus recruitments, assist students in cracking placement exams, and monitoring their progress.

  7. Automating administrative processes: Administrative tasks, though time-consuming, are a necessary function. Administrators are often overwhelmed with repetitive work such as new student admissions, managing class schedules, student attendance, processing grades, and monitoring placements. Automation is a crucial way to reduce their burden substantially and keep the processes running smoothly. The staff can eliminate manual routines and instead focus on more creative and inventive roles.

    New York University has deployed BobCat, an AI program that maintains the institution’s library. It plays a librarian’s role, helping students and teachers search, scan, and get library resources such as books/ebooks, sound recordings, videos, e-journals, etc. It also keeps track of the repository, maintains check-out and records for all returns.

AI has enhanced the way teachers run their classrooms. It has also helped administrators expedite their tasks. It replaces the traditional pen-and-paper method with innovative teaching methods, collaborative task management, and seamless operations. Recognizing the potential AI brings to the table, universities, in collaboration with IT companies, are deploying intelligent algorithms. These timely interventions are helping universities address challenges and drive efficiency across functions.

Conclusion

Artificial intelligence is undeniably transforming the education sector worldwide, and the potential for progress is tremendous. With artificial intelligence surpassing human abilities and making a difference in the way universities function in more profound ways, it is the right time to jump on the bandwagon. And for that, you need an expert partner.

At Trigent, we provide AI solutions that are easy to use and intuitive, ensuring seamless adoption of this latest technology. With Trigent’s AI-powered tools, you can accelerate your digital transformation initiative in this new normal successfully.

Reach out to us for a business consultation. We’d be happy to partner with you on your AI adoption journey.

Power Immersive, Engaging, Impactful Learning Experiences with AR/VR

The education sector, like many others, has been hugely impacted owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. Not that it wasn’t familiar to disruption. Homeschooling, online degree programs, virtual classrooms have all been progressive steps in the direction of transformative technological innovation. But with Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) coming into the picture, things have changed radically for the education sector.

We are now talking about some really innovative stuff – the kind that makes learning engaging and interactive, that takes students beyond the realms of their classrooms to explore new dimensions in learning and comprehension.

We are treading into an era of experiential learning driven by AR/VR.

The research by MarketsandMarkets suggests that the global EdTech and smart classroom market is growing at a CAGR of 16.1% from USD 85,818 million in 2020 to USD 181,265 million by 2025. It’s not surprising then to find technology dominates every sphere of learning and education.

Propelling-immersive-learning-with-AR-VR

Morehouse College, the alma mater of Martin Luther King Jr., is now conducting three classes in VR powered by the Engage-based Victory XR platform. Having created more than 240 VR & AR experiences covering more than fifty different learning units for diverse subjects, the college has created a digitized campus where everyone can connect and collaborate.

Opines Dushunte Carmon, the project’s chief advocate within Morehouse College, “With the increasing amount of technology that is occurring in education, people have to learn and teach in a different way, they have to be innovative. The discovery of Victory XR was the dimension I had been looking to add to Morehouse College for the last two years. This is a game-changer not only for Morehouse College but for colleges and universities around the world.”

The New Normal has compelled colleges and universities to reach out to students albeit remotely. AR and VR have come to their rescue opening new avenues for a more engaging distance learning experience. In tandem with Artificial Intelligence (AI), they promise a hyper-immersive learning experience that puts experiential learning at the fore of things. Modern students are now relying on a digital ecosystem that will continue to thrive with time. As transformative teaching technologies continue to power learning experiences across the globe, here’s how the contemporary education landscape looks like.

Learning without borders

Following a partnership between Almo Professional A/V and ARHT Media Inc., a Toronto-based holographic solutions developer, we now have pioneering technology that enables high-quality, low-latency AV streaming with end-to-end encryption. Imagine what this could do in the field of education. Viewers can now attend lectures remotely without wearing 3D glasses to see lecturers right in front of them as live holograms.

Ideal for conference halls, corporate boardrooms, and large training centers, this plug-and-play cabinet on wheels dubbed as the HoloPod is helping universities transcend borders. So guest lecturers from anywhere in the world can now pop up right in front of you and deliver a truly interactive, engaging experience.

A lot more than a laptop

San Jose-based zSpace is breaking barriers between users and computers through their innovative laptops that offer a multidimensional AR/VR environment. With 3-D technology at its helm, it offers immersive experiences with 3D content popping out of the screen. It functions as an all-in-one PC and allows users to enjoy learning experiences from wherever they are with the help of head tracking and lightweight glasses.

Every time students tilt their heads to view something, the software is quick to take notes and tweak the perspective accordingly. What students get is real-time exposure to scenarios that they would have never had a chance to experience otherwise. For instance, those learning automotive technology gravitated to learning beyond regular lessons diving further into motors, transmissions, and other related stuff.

Closing the gap in distance learning

Students often lose their interest and focus during distance learning due to a lack of interaction. The beauty of VR is that it allows just about everybody to enjoy learning in simulated settings, no matter how complex their subject is. The University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) enables its students to use VR to simulate real-life surgery while the students at Averett University in Danville, Virginia are ‘virtually’ exploring the inner workings of the human body going all the way to the cellular level. This kind of distance learning also eliminates errors allowing students to focus on the finer details of the human anatomy. AR, on the other hand, enhances every possible subject from STEM to humanities.

Colleges are now also offering campus tours virtually giving students the feel of physically being there without actually having to travel. Without the distance, students feel less inhibited and are enthusiastically taking up language and culture classes while eavesdropping on conversations in a foreign café emulating native speakers.

Improving learning outcomes with AI

As machine learning tools and techniques enter the scene, educational applications are gearing up for new breakthroughs. Researchers are now using advanced image recognition to detect aggressive forms of cancer while others are using AI teaching assistants and voice-enabled assistants like Alexa to help students with answers to frequently asked questions.

AI has also been helping organizations worldwide produce smart, personalized content. It has opened up new avenues to students with learning disabilities and special needs. By creating a more inclusive environment, AR, VR, and AI have changed the dynamics for learning and education.

Can we make AR/VR mainstream?

AR/VR undoubtedly has a lot to offer to the field of education. It is however important to have the right infrastructure. Adequate wireless network capacity, computers with the necessary computing power, and devices that enable immersive technologies are some of the prerequisites to getting started on an AR and VR-enabled learning journey. Hi-quality sensors, cameras, smartphones, headsets, glasses, etc. are needed to experience and enjoy learning in the true sense.

Clearly, there are several challenges on the road to AR/VR-driven learning. Educational technologies come with a price and at times it can be a bit overwhelming to get the best in EdTech. Late adopters may have to grapple with fundraising and may have to look for investors. There has to be enough quality content too that can be rolled out through the right distribution channels. Also, it will take a while for educators, administrators, and students to get used to diverse formats and platforms.

Institutions are contemplating crowdsourcing VR experiments and experiences in a bid to increase adoption and allow access through libraries, technology hubs, etc. No doubt, transformative technologies like AR/VR are going to be a tad expensive, to begin with, but the benefits are far too many to ignore and universities across the world will adopt them sooner than later.

Teach with Trigent

AR/VR can resolve the challenges in learning born in the wake of the New Normal. At Trigent, we help educational institutes and decision-makers tide over challenges in adopting transformative teaching technologies with the right tools, solutions, and data-driven processes. We can help you improve efficiencies to build the perfect ecosystem to make learning collaborative, impactful, and seamless across geographies.

Call us today to know more. We are eager to partner with you on this incredible journey.

Tech Trends Driving Higher Education in 2021 and Beyond

The campuses that were bustling with life a year ago now have a deserted look. The dormitories, classrooms, and practical rooms all wait for normalcy to return. The pandemic has impacted all walks of life, and the universities are no different. As per the latest New York Times survey comprising 1,900 American colleges and universities, there have been 397000 cases and about 90 deaths due to the coronavirus.

The explosion of the virus and the regulations to curb the spread have expedited the adoption of technology. Universities that were warming up to technology before the pandemic are now swiftly embracing technology to overcome the pandemic’s challenges and chart out their future course of action.

Here are the top trending technologies that have got the education industry’s attention and are sure to have a long-standing impact on the education industry and system.

AI drives operational and administrative efficiency

AI’s impact on the education sector or specifically in higher learning institutes can be manifold. Many universities or institutions are already leveraging AI to deliver time-sensitive academic and admin tasks, increase enrollment, improve IT processes and amplify the learning experience. A Wall Street Journal article noted that the Georgia Institute of Technology addressed 40% of student’s queries using an AI-powered chatbot assistant freeing up humans to tackle complex questions. AI could also spell good news for students with hearing and visual impairments by refining language translations and providing improved access.

While AI’s potential has been a topic of discussion at institutions, its adoption in the education industry is still lagging. A 2019 survey revealed that implementation was the most significant challenge institutions faced in adopting AI. Only 41% of universities have chalked out a strategy on utilizing AI. Another major deterrent is the cost involved, with 57% of institutions having a separate budget for AI projects.

Hybrid learning delivers continuity, convenience, and safety

With the contagious virus on the prowl student, health and safety have become priorities for institutions. The learning environment is poised for a significant overhaul. Hybrid learning or blended learning is the best option available to institutions. The students’ young age on campus is another reason hybrid learning is a perfect fit for the current day and age. Statistics from Bill and Melinda Foundation reveal the 55% of today’s college and university students are Gen Zers. The new generation of students is well averse to using technology. Pew Research highlighted that 95% of Gen Zers have access to smartphones while close to 97% use one of the major learning platforms.

A recently concluded survey by the Institute of International Education has revealed that 9 out of 10 universities in the US plan to implement the hybrid learning model across their campuses. 92% of institutions participating in the survey suggested looking at a wholly revamped instructional plan starting fall 2020.

Immersive, engaging, and impactful learning experiences using AR/VR

Not long ago, the thought of remote learning, especially for higher education, was a distant dream. The biggest challenge to any such suggestion was the impact of in-person classes conducted by the professor in charge, the face-to-face interactions, live demonstrations, and the practical sessions. The emergence of the coronavirus and the social distancing regulation compelled colleges to go digital. Every need has a solution. In this case, the need for real conversations, universities turned to AR/VR that had already made inroads into the classroom. As per Burroughs, 2018 and Internet2, 2019, as of 2018, 18% of universities and colleges had fully deployed VR, 28% had used it to some extent, and 32% were testing the technology. Gartner predicts that by 2021, 60 higher education institutions in the United States will focus on using VR to create simulations and put students into immersive environments.

Through its Virtual Immersive Teaching and Learning (VITaL), San Diego State University’s Instructional Technology Services is using VR capabilities to teach students astronomy. Students in Western Carolina University’s (NC) School of Nursing are using VR to virtually attend to rare emergencies and understand how to attend to such instances. In another compelling use case, Fordham University’s (NY) Gabelli School of Business teaches its students lessons in leadership and teamwork using VR. Students in this particular exercise walk on a 1400 foot skyscraper urged by team members or guided by fellow students to diffuse bombs.

Robust ‘anywhere’ learning systems with cloud technologies

Campuses are sophisticated systems similar to bustling cities. Apart from learning systems, they provide transportation, campus safety, accounting, administration, and everything else required to run a well-oiled system for the residents, in this case, the students. All these facilities provided by the institutions need to run cohesively. Embracing the cloud enables institutions to create a data-centric mindset and rely more on quantifiable data measurement to drive and assess enrollment functions. Institutions are adopting cloud products to leap towards process re-engineering to aim for system-wide digital transformation. The approach will reduce information silos and enable standardization of data driving information sharing, boosting efficiency and sustainable growth.

The pandemic has put an enormous financial burden on institutions. Budget cuts for public institutions and diminishing private funds and endowments have further crippled institutions’ financial capability to harness cloud capabilities helping colleges and universities balance their expenses while benefiting from the high-standard IT services.

The Julliard School for performing arts having its physical presence in New York, will be training 800 students from 42 different countries. The faculty will be training all these students from its campus in Manhattan. The cloud powers Julliard’s digital foray.

Conclusion

Like every other industry, the higher education domain needs a revamp. Campuses across the United States are increasing digital transformation speed to face any unforeseen eventuality. Trigent is at the forefront of enabling institutions and universities to quickly and efficiently utilize technology advances. Our domain expertise empowers institutions to promptly ramp-up capabilities backed by our technology experts.

Let us together build a digitally strong foundation for an empowered future. Call us today.

Emerging Educational Uses of Technology That are the Most Exciting Right Now & Into 2017

As we Enter a new School Year, Which Uses of Technology Hold the Most Promise to Impact Learning?

Well, it’s that time of year again … the start of a new school year. With it often comes the irresistible urge to make another list, or even better … many lists! Lists help us to plan, and they can also help us reflect and assess.

One list I really enjoy putting together as we head into a new academic year is an updated look at which educational uses of technology have shown the most promise over the last year. Which tools and techniques most excite me as I look forward to another year of striving for continuous improvement as a technologist, and #edtech advocate! And as different technology uses take the spotlight, which of them are standing out a little more?

What will 2017 hold for education? There’s no shortage of articles and reports with predictions describing what to expect for the coming year. It’s tempting to be dismissive—scanning the headlines knowing that predictions are far from a sure bet. Yet for educators, considering trends across industries in conjunction with current developments in education is constructive, strategic and provides an edge; it gives insight, helps us prepare and be proactive. In this post I share my analysis of current trends and developments within higher education and k-12 and outline what to expect in 2017.

There’s a spate of articles on the Web across all sectors: education, business, consumer and design, all describing what to watch for—micro-credentialing, wearable technology, mobile, augmented reality and a host of others. Yet how are these trends applicable or relevant to educators? I analysed numerous sources, some specific to education and many not, to determine what will affect the education sector in 2017.

So, looking back and thinking forward, here are a dozen instructional uses of technology that are the most compelling right now. Some of these are BIG ideas, driving real change in our classrooms and schools, and some are simpler concepts that are making small but meaningful changes in how we engage our students on a day to day basis.

Virtual Reality (VR) Adds New Dimension to Learning

VR is shaping up to be one of the largest technology turf wars of 2016. Several global companies have staked millions of dollars developing their brand of the technology, including Google, Samsung, HTCSony and the Facebook-backed Oculus. And in 2017 many of these iterations of the VR craze are set to go to market.

The immersive power of this technology has also caught the eye of Jon Phillips, managing director of strategy for worldwide education at Dell.

“I think as we head into the next year, we’re going to see more grassroots approaches to bringing technologies like that into the classroom, allowing students to learn experientially,” says Phillips.

Google is already on the case. Its Expeditions Pioneer program is bringing smartphone-powered Google Cardboard devices to classrooms across the country as a way to introduce students to VR technology.

AR is just so much fun and comes in many different flavours. Everything from free or inexpensive smartphone apps to full blown 3D workstations like those from zSpace. AR is just one of the coolest educational technologies that many educators have not even come across yet! To better understand AR in the classroom, check out how these teachers and students are using augmented reality.

Student Response Systems

Engaging with students and gathering feedback are two core benefits of technology in the classroom and Student Response Systems are designed to that end. While ‘SRS’ technology is by no means new, it has morphed considerably over the years, and continues to evolve and emerge.

The first SRS were costly proprietary clickers, but today’s best SRS are free and device independent, which is opening them up to many more educators to use in their classrooms. Tools like Kahoot and Quiz socket enable students to participate in interactive surveys, questions, quizzes, etc., from a phone, tablet, or computer. There is also a great low-tech alternative called ‘Plickers‘ that has garnered a lot of well-deserved attention.

Video Collaboration Tools

The power of today’s easy to use video solutions is empowering teachers to bring the world into their classroom, and to make themselves more available to students. This is another technology that is by no means new, but it continues to evolve steadily. Thanks to the increasingly ubiquitous smartphone, video is becoming an anytime, anywhere solution. In addition to live collaboration, tools like Movenote and VoiceThread make it possible to collaborate via video asynchronously.

If you aren’t leveraging the power of video to bring guest speakers into your classroom, interact with other classrooms across the world, or let a home-bound student participate in class, you are missing out on a world of possibilities.

Social Learning in Online Courses

I truly believe that better incorporation of social learning is vital to making online learning more engaging. Many online programs struggle to attain retention rates similar to most in-seat programs. One of the elements generally lacking in online learning (but natural to the face-to-face classroom) is a healthy level of social interaction. When online teachers make the effort to build social interaction into the digital classroom, they create multiple opportunities to enhance engagement and improve learning outcomes. The growing adoption of online learning makes it more important than ever that online courses incorporate social interaction into their lesson plans and assignments.

  “Mobile First or Mobile Only”

 “Think Mobile First or Mobile Only”. It’s so true – mobile is changing everything and education is no exception. This is surely an area where we are going to continue to see big changes as the world slowly gets its head around the way the powerful devices so many of us have in our hands can seriously change how we communicate, connect, reach out, access content, research, learn, think, act, … and the list just keeps growing.

If learning really can take place anytime, anywhere, shouldn’t we encourage it? This is yet another change that is happening whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. More teachers are embracing the power of this device as an instructional aid.

Wearables Court Mainstream Status

The current star of the Internet of Things concept, wearable technology, still has a lot to prove to educators. Analysts at New Media Consortium (NMC) predict it will be widespread in classrooms in about four years, but there are already examples of the technology making waves in education.

“Indeed, wearable technology has been pushing the boundaries of what students are able to create — even spurring wearable-themed school events and contests,” according to NMC’s 2016 report.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory hosted a wearable-themed workshop as an interactive way of introducing mechanical design and electrical engineering to high school girls, the NMC report states.

In 2015, UNICEF launched Kid Power, a fitness program that tracked the steps of about 10,000 students while they wore fitness bands. Participants accrued points for walking, which were then converted into monetary donations to purchase food packets for malnourished children.

“Wearables not only assist students, but also offer many benefits to educators. From pinging students’ GPS locations during a field trip to recording point-of-view lessons, teachers have more options to monitor and engage with students. And this engagement can also translate to communication between educators, giving them more options for collaboration,” according to the K-12 Tech Decisions blog.

So there you have it …

These are the academic uses of technology that are putting a smile on my face these days, and inspiring my desire to help make a difference. What do you think? What excites you? What are the #edtech ideas, tools, and techniques that you think hold the most promise to make an impact and improve learning for your students?