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Assisting Distant Learners with AI

by Samantha Kalany

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

This year hasn’t been like any of the previous one and that’s all thanks to the impact of COVID-19 spreading and ultimately taking the lives of so many. In order to help stop the spread, many educational institutions, such as universities and K-12 facilities have resorted towards running classes from the comfort of students’ homes, behind the screen of a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer. Some students have expressed their feelings on missing out of activities that help to build out their social construct, such as school dances, parties, face-to-face interaction, graduation ceremonies, school lunches, and so many other freedoms. Being stuck behind the confines of their homes, experiencing technological fry, if you will, has gotten pretty mundane over the last 8+ months, for many. That’s where the influence of AI has come into play to help spark creativity, inspiration, and a better workplace for students to grow and learn.AI

We’ve got chatbots on our mind! Don’t worry, students wouldn’t be utilizing chatbots to cheat on tests, but rather to enhance the educational experience within the classrooms and lecture halls. Chatbots could extend a hand by essentially providing feedback on presentations, access to bibliography outlets, examples used during lesson sessions, and even send little reminders and notifications about upcoming assignments nearing a due date. For those who are extra cautious about avoiding dishonest cheaters, chatbots must be entirely manipulated and controlled by information and content crafted out by teachers and professors, during specific windows, so it’s hardly plausible.

Many University/College students currently operate within various online learning platforms that go hand in hand with assignments, lecture notes, course curriculum, and so much more. Blackboard Learn, Schoology, Canvas, and Nearpod are just a few of the many that are employed by educational institutions worldwide. These are often instated to help students ensure a sense of normalcy and organization within their learning methods, and in this instance, chatbots would walk hand in hand with these virtual learning platforms to keep the status quo flowing.

Chatbots can be integrated into student learning through a variety of methods, including:

  • The distribution of accurate information – Say no more to the gossipy word-of-mouth whispering of students wondering when assignments are due and if the exams are cumulative or not. Such information would be sent out in regular reminders thanks to these chatbots and the preciseness would always be spot on and to the point.
  • This communicative method will always be prompt– It’s safe to say that professors and teachers aren’t operating on a 24/7 mindset, and rightfully so, they have families and responsibilities of their own to look after. With chatbots in tow, students can receive assistance and updates around the clock, for the early risers and the night owls alike.
  • The distribution of outreach with a Touch a Personalization – When teachers and professors are sending out mass weekly emails to their students, they can come off pretty generalized because they are trying to ensure that their messaging hits everyone in their pathway and covers as many points as possible. This is really typical for any learning environment, but through the adoption of chatbots, students can receive personalized messages such as specific reminders to enroll in classes, submit assignments, pay tuition, etc., which can help students feel included and cared for.AI
  • The Direct Correspondence of Teachers and Staff Members – Chatbots can act as powerful virtual assistant for teaching staff, especially during these hectic times. It’s probably fair to assume that teachers (at every grade level) are struggling to provide a “somewhat normal” learning experience for their students, and what with balancing their new work from home environment, technical issues, and student questions, there’s surely a lot on their plate, with each passing day. Chatbots can help to administer details about lessons and upcoming assignments, so that teachers don’t have to waste their time answering questions about deadlines, exercises, and lessons. At the same time, these virtual assistants can switch up the script by grading multiple choice exams, especially if the proper machine learning algorithm is applied.

Obviously, there is a lot to consider here, when it comes to the learning management system of usage, but also other demographics, such as the classroom age level and their ability to receive some information, intellectually, but at the same time looking at the size of the class and analyzing if the sizable group could benefit from this mini virtual assistant. Expanding upon the world of AI, there is much more that can be simplified for both students and their parents, accessing their virtual schooling and lessons. In the 2018 – 2019 Academic Year alone, the average college student spent between $1,240 – $1,440 on course materials and text materials, and outside of the traditional stress-factors, this is one of the largest aggravators of college students today.

AIThrough AI, school administrators can digitize textbooks to cut down on costs and even help to improve better knowledge and memory retention. It’s been found that it’s easier to remember something that you’ve viewed rather than hearing it. With the power of AI, educators could potentially create online courses with interactive images, GIFs, surveys, games, and any other motivators that will help their students WANT to learn, especially the mundane days that are happening in today’s world.



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