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Practical Applications of AI in Higher Ed

AI use cases that are setting the stage for the future.

AI within the US Education Sector is poised to become a bigger and bigger deal in the coming years. 

Understanding how this new technology will impact higher education is important for all of us. In fact, one research report predicts AI within the US Education Sector will grow at a compound annual rate of 47.7% between 2018 and 2022.

Within higher education, AI is being used in a number of practical ways right now. It is helpful to be aware of some examples, so that we have an informed understanding of how these innovations are impacting both the delivery of education and student services and support.


AI in Academic Support

To support students on their educational journey, here are some ways AI is being deployed (by no means is this an exhaustive list):

AI Chatbots within the learning management system

These chatbots can help students quickly get access to their grades, guide them to find courses that can fulfill major and general education requirements, and help them register for courses.

AI Chatbots and AI-Powered Text Campaigns to support academic advising

By using predictive analytics to identify students who are having academic difficulty, administrators can quickly reach out to them, identify the source of their struggles and connect them with human resources.

AI Speech Technology to support remote learning

California State University – Chico and UCLA are both using AI speech technology to transform spoken lectures into lecture notes. For students that want to get through the material faster, and in a format that breaks the cycle of repetitive lectures, this technology offers an alternative and option and experience.

AI Chatbots and AI-Powered Text Campaigns to guide students to the educational path that best suits them

Students can be overwhelmed by the multitude of educational choices in front of them. And too often, there are not enough advisors to help guide them to the path of study that is best suited for them. AI tools can learn from previous experiences to develop pathways that have proven to be the most successful and share these insights with students.

AI-powered Discussion Boards and Platforms

AI-powered discussion boards can flag excellent posts, as well as those that have shortcomings such as poor grammar or hostility. For faculty covering multiple classes, and large numbers of students, this AI can save faculty time and effort, and enable them to provide accurate, specific, and personal feedback to students instead of spending time combing through a large quantity of posts.


AI in Student Service Support

To support students through the admissions process and the educational experience in general, AI can be a personalized advisor. Consider:

AI Chatbots and AI-Powered Text Campaigns to drive student engagement

Colleges are using chatbots and text campaigns to scale advising. These tools enable colleges to reach a broad audience, send reminders and nudges, and also pivot to having more personalized conversations and communications when needed.

AI Chatbots to provide immediate answers to student questions 24/7

Students have questions 24/7/365. Support offices are often open weekdays from 8:30-5:30, but closed on the weekends, holidays, and breaks. AI chatbots help provide immediate answers to students during periods of time when offices are closed.

AI Chatbots to help guide students through work-flows, forms, etc.

Students today are clamoring for self-service and AI chatbots are a great way to facilitate and support that. Use chatbots to guide students through the completion of paperwork and onward to campus resources that can help further support them.


The Wrap

We’re just scratching the surface of how AI can impact higher education. It’s attractive for a number of reasons — it’s affordable, it can power and scale multiple platforms and channels, and it gets more intelligent over time. AI will take us in a lot of interesting directions — in both academics and student service support.

Yet, AI is still in its infancy. We have a lot to learn, to test, and to explore. For now, at least, we are seeing a variety of practical use cases that are setting the stage for the future.

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