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.

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.