School & District Management

Artificial Intelligence in Higher Education: Lessons for K-12 Tech Leaders

By Alyson Klein — December 19, 2019 2 min read
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Artificial Intelligence is being cited by some as the next big teaching tool, and a new area of study for students. But in addition to helping students learn, it may also make life easier for chief technology officers.

That’s according to a report from Campus Technology, a higher education technology magazine. The report, released earlier this month, was sponsored by Cherwell, a private software company. Although it focuses on the role of AI in higher education, there are potential lessons for K-12 technology leaders too.

The report notes that AI in K-20 is growing annually at about 48 percent. It is big in three areas: automation of routine administration tasks (like grading papers), helping create more immersive experiences for students, and coaching and tutoring. (For an in-depth look at AI in K-12, check out this explainer.)

But the report emphasizes that, on college and university campuses, IT departments might find other uses for the technology. For instance, chat bots might be able to help students resolve problems with hardware, software, or a printer. And if the chat bot can’t answer the question, it can typically refer the student to an IT professional who can.

Just over 70 percent of businesses and organizations, including higher education institutions, were already using AI in at least one IT project, according to a 2018 survey conducted on Chartwell’s behalf. More than half expected to see a return on that investment within 12 months. And 21 percent of respondents said they expected that machine learning would help them “identify patterns, proactively improve, and identify potential new service offerings.”

Higher education institutions interested in investing in AI should consider several steps, the report suggests. For instance, they should “promote a culture of self-service,” in which staff members and students are willing to turn to AI to help solve problems. And they should make sure that any AI-powered programs they purchase will help create interoperability, or the ability of different software systems to communicate with each other. Schools shouldn’t “bet big on one all-encompassing solution.” Instead, they should choose a platform that allows for integration and find solutions tailored to specific program needs.

Want more on AI? Check out these Education Week stories.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.