Using AI and Data to Help Underserved Students
Online learning can potentially give colleges and universities more student data than schools have ever had before. With great power comes great responsibility.
Studies show students of lower socioeconomic status tend to have had lower quality early education experiences. Without as strong of an educational foundation as their affluent classmates, it can be difficult for them to meet the demands of higher education without additional support.
But when one professor is lecturing hundreds of students a week, it is not humanly possible for an educator to support the distinct learning needs of each disadvantaged student. This is where AI and data analytics can help facilitate more student-centered learning.
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I believe we will see a rise in emerging support systems that not only engage students, but also evaluate their strengths and weaknesses.
Case in point: If everyone is reading electronic textbooks, it is potentially possible for professors to track if students are actually doing the readings. How much time do students spend on reading assignments? Do they skip chapters? Do they highlight and engage with the text?
Having this kind of data can enable schools to examine the root causes behind poor academic performance, which in turn allows faculty to form more student-centered instructional strategies. Why are some students not reading? Are their reading levels not where they should be? Can the school offer more specialized support to help these students get up to speed?
Or are these students single parents who do not have time to read because they are working multiple jobs? In that case, these students might benefit from a different set of assignments tailored to their learning and personal needs.
Since educators cannot obtain this type of data from physical textbooks, online learning has the potential to open a new frontier for student success. If universities and colleges want to develop better, data-informed strategies to support underserved students, companies will create the technology to make this possible.
This article is part of EdTech: Focus on Higher Education’s UniversITy blog series.