The AI we know today was officially developed in a higher education institution. In the mid-1950s, computer and cognitive scientist, John McCarthy, coined the term “artificial intelligence” during a summer conference at Dartmouth College in the US. Decades later, AI has become an essential part of our daily lives.
From Google Maps to Amazon and Netflix recommendations, TV show captions and personalized ads on YouTube (ever text a friend on WhatsApp about sneakers and suddenly start seeing sneaker ads on Facebook?), AI is everywhere. And yet, it’s only in recent years that it’s has been adopted into higher education.
There’s good reason it’s become a part of college and university programs. With teacher shortages and continuing doubts about the value of higher education, AI is transforming the learning and teaching experience for good.
With growing global teacher shortages, AI holds the promise of relief. Instructors can now rely on AI-generated email reminders about assignment deadlines, payments and registration deadlines. AI is also available to detect plagiarized assignments (a topic of controversy) and AI-driven chatbots are now fielding the everyday questions about scheduling and tuition.
AI is the core of adaptive learning and focuses on human behavior. In college and university, this means it analyzes student responses to determine if they understand the subject matter then provides constructive, real-time feedback. Part of most digital courseware, AI brings predictive learning analytics, suggesting relevant content based on difficulty level or previous answers to questions. Some can even anticipate challenging areas for a student and provide extra learning opportunities and practice tasks. All of this adaptive self-guided learning means instructors no longer have to handhold while students receive reinforcement activities tailored to their learning pace and style.
Perhaps the most valuable, LMS and digital courseware include instructor dashboards with student assessments, participation monitoring, and reports on which students haven’t been reading through the materials or are in danger of a failing grade. The machine learning component sorts through large amounts of data to detect patterns and then inform instructors about any concerning finds. Without lifting a finger, instructors gain valuable visibility into student behavior so they can tailor instruction and intervene where necessary.
There’s so much potential beyond the main technologies and uses in higher education. Thought leaders in higher education are grabbing hold of the data capture and analytics features because they reveal better ways to attract and keep applicants. According to Forbes, many higher education institutions in the US are “using AI to help them make progress on key outcomes like increasing their yield from applicants, preventing first-to-second year attrition, targeting institutional financial aid and optimizing the solicitation of alumni donors.”
It’s clear there’s tremendous promise. However, with AI’s many positives comes more demand on the campus network. And only the right network will be able to harness the benefits of AI to provide the most cutting-edge student experience. In essence, the network needs to be just as smart (if not smarter) than the technology it’s supporting, including the following elements:
Wi-Fi is a given in higher education. As more technology becomes adopted into the curriculum and the campus experience, it’ll become increasingly critical or table stakes to have bandwidth that can easily handle congested areas like quads and arenas. Choose Wi-Fi that lets your students and staff count on easy, uninterrupted connections. It’ll ensure you stay competitive and able to provide a high-quality experience for students and staff.
It takes one to know one. Explainable AI algorithms help you be proactive by revealing intelligent insights into user behavior and network usage, full visibility into network data, automated data collection, and an enriched user experience. In the end, you’ll spend less time troubleshooting and more time being strategic about how to optimize the network for the way students and staff actually use it.
All the technology in the world is reduced to nothing if you can’t rely on it to work. Access is number one and that means you need a reliable network that can easily and effortlessly support a wider breadth of connections and demands. Whether it’s a student submitting an important assignment remotely or thousands of spectators snapping their experience for the team at the campus stadium, the campus network needs to be one that leaves you feeling confident.
A network is only as vulnerable as it’s safeguards. And AI brings new vulnerabilities and controversy to the subject of student privacy. Make sure your network is set up so that IT administrators can protect student information. Essential elements include data encryption and logging capabilities to satisfy education compliance requirements.
AI is already a part of the way we live and work. A higher education network that’s optimized for next-generation learning is already thinking ahead. If you’re not already there, try considering how AI is already affecting the teaching and learning experience. Focus on discovering ways to further unlock its potential.
In another decade, we’ll be doing so much more. Think about the student of the future and how they’ll expect to learn. Point your network in that direction.
The future is a whole new playground. Build a high-value network for higher education and you’ll already be in prime position for whatever comes next.