With the penetration of online education owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, artificial intelligence-based teachers could soon take the front stage. According to International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, researchers at the University of Central Florida’s Nicholson School of Communication and Media are now working to understand student perceptions of these AI-enabled teachers. What has been discovered up until now is that AI teaching assistant needs to be effective and easy to talk to.
As per Jihyun Kim, an associate professor in the school and lead author of the study, engineers and computer scientists can design AI-teachers to easily integrate into the education experience by understanding how students relate to them.
In order to use machine teachers effectively, Kim said, “We need to understand students’ perceptions toward machine teachers, their learning experiences with them and more. This line of research is needed to design effective machine teachers that can actually facilitate positive learning experiences.”
The researchers further believe that AI teaching assistants can help ease a teacher’s workload, such as by responding to commonly asked questions by students. These questions, which often appear each semester and become numerous in online classes with hundreds of students, can become a large task for a teacher. The quick delivery of answers also helps students.
With an aim to provide example, the researchers had created an AI teaching assistant named Jill Watson at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Jill was fed the thousands of questions and answers commonly asked in the researcher’s online class that he’d taught over the years. With some additional learning and tweaks, Jill was eventually able to answer the students’ commonly asked questions accurately without any human assistance as if she was one of the researcher’s human teaching assistants.
The University of Central Florida’s researchers then asked respondents to read a news article about an AI-teaching assistant used in higher education, and then they surveyed the students’ perceptions of the technology. Kim added that it was discovered that that students were most likely to accept an AI teacher that was useful and was easy to communicate with points to the importance of having an effective AI-system.
“I hope our research findings help us find an effective way to incorporate AI agents into education,” said Kim. It is believed that by adopting an AI agent as an assistant for a simple and repetitive task, teachers would be able to spend more time doing things such as meeting with students and developing teaching strategies that will help student learn and understand lessons easily.
(Image credit: Freepik)
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