The New Horizon of AI in Higher Ed

Article by Aaron Merlos, 2023 Scheidel Foundation College Success Fellow

Nearly 77% of all devices today use some form of artificial intelligence technology. The rapid growth of artificial intelligence (AI) has been nothing less than incredible. Its very concept has been popularized to the point of being used across nearly every industry and profession, and it is increasingly touching our personal lives. Despite its popularity amongst many professionals and students, many in higher education have reservations about the use of AI, believing it could compromise or further exacerbate certain conditions:

  • Data privacy, algorithmic fairness, and already-existing biases and educational disparities.
  • Educational standards, critical thinking, and innovation.
  • The authenticity and originality of students’ work.
  • Interpersonal interaction between students and professors.
  • Confidentiality and privacy of student information.
  • Development of crucial components of education, such as social skills, curiosity, relationship development, and knowledge transmission.

Despite this, many also recognize that AI holds promise in the education sector for both students and educators. Some of the potential benefits of AI in education include: 

AI technology may examine a student’s learning history, performance, and preferences and offer diverse learning styles based on the student’s profile. For instance, AI can provide additional materials or activities to boost a student’s weak areas if they excel in mathematics but struggle with literature. To provide a more successful learning experience, AI may modify information delivery techniques, such as visual aids or audible resources, based on how a student learns best.

AI chatbots and virtual assistants are able to offer rapid assistance to students around the clock. AI can provide prompt solutions and advice for any query a student may have, whether it relates to their homework, due dates, or just general counsel. This ongoing assistance can help students get the aid they need when they need it, including during late-night study sessions.

AI can make learning more interactive and interesting. The addition of gamification elements, for instance, has the potential to engage learners by turning tasks into challenges or competitions. Students can better absorb complex scientific ideas or historical events with the aid of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).

Indicators of struggling or disinterested pupils can be more readily identified with the aid of AI, enabling teachers to offer prompt assistance and interventions to stop academic problems from getting worse.

With the assistance of AI, teachers can improve their lesson plans and teaching methods. AI, for instance, might advise curriculum changes based on data analysis to better address the requirements of a certain student group. Due to its flexibility, the curriculum may be changed to meet changing educational requirements and trends while remaining successful.

Large amounts of data produced by students’ interactions with educational platforms may be analyzed by AI. To find trends and patterns in students’ learning, AI can examine this data. Teachers may learn which teaching strategies work best, which subject areas pupils find difficult, and where the curriculum can be improved.

Regardless of the pros and cons being debated, students and institutions are finding new ways for AI to be used in their journey through higher education. Continued research will be needed to evaluate the ramifications of the increasing integration of AI into the higher ed experience.