4 key ways AI can take higher ed to the next level

AI could flourish on campuses if unhindered by policies on privacy and data security

Conversations around artificial intelligence’s potential in higher education are growing, and a new report outlines some of the ways in which AI could revolutionize higher education.

Artificial Intelligence in Higher Education: Current Uses and Future Applications, from The Learning House, casts a critical eye on the immediate and future applications of AI in higher ed, and it also examines implementation challenges.

The report also highlights important policy guidance and recommendations that are likely to accelerate AI innovation or, if unrealized, stifle its growth and adoption. For example, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) last updated in 2001, predates many common education technologies including smartphones, tablets, wireless data, MOOCs, and even online education programs in general. The brief also cites necessary changes to policies on data security and accreditation.

“Imagine a world where grading a full course’s papers takes 15 minutes, and teaching assistants, student advisers and enrollment counselors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Imagine a world where faculty can create immersive, real-world experiences for students without leaving the classroom, map out a class’s misconceptions about material down to discrete learning outcomes and select a series of intervention strategies targeted to each student’s unique learning needs,” the authors write. “Many of these elements have always been possible through extensive human effort, but AI will make this world available at scale, freeing up faculty and staff to deliver a more personal, tailored experience that better meets students’ needs and prepares them for success.”

In the report, the authors identify four key areas in which AI is impacting higher education, as well as opportunities for future growth.

Student acquisition: AI can provide 24/7 personalized assistance to students as they progress through the enrollment process. In the future, it could help schools target recruitment to students who are likely to succeed at their institution and in certain majors, leading to higher enrollment and retention rates.

Learning and instruction: AI can help instructors grade and supply struggling students with the resources they need to succeed. In the future, this could free up faculty members to oversee large classes while still engaging with students on a deeper level.

Laura Ascione