The system that the UOC group will be developing for the European Patent Office will use artificial intelligence to analyse data and create prediction models (photo: Lara Far / unsplash.com)
The system will detect students' potential problems at an early stage
The technology will increase the personalization of teaching for students
The European Patent Office (EPO) will be funding a new project by the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) to develop a learning support system based on the application of artificial intelligence (AI).
This student support system will include the early detection of those at risk of failing to pass the course, automatic feedback, innovative learning resources and the automatic resolution of queries using chatbots.
The project, which will be implemented in the educational programmes on intellectual property offered by the EPO, is an extension of another project carried out at the UOC over four years, the Learning Intelligence System (LIS). This system detected students at risk – either of failing, or of leaving the course – which enabled the member of teaching staff and the student to consider possible solutions to prevent academic failure. The students also received personalized messages based on their identified level of risk in order to reduce the potential risk.
Education with artificial intelligence
"The application of AI in education is currently a hot topic," said the project's lead researcher, David Bañeres. "As in other fields such as logistics, transportation, or banking, AI promises to revolutionize education as we currently experience it, providing support for teachers to offer students more personalized teaching."
According to this researcher, who is a member of the Systems, Software and Models Research Lab group (SOM Research Lab ) at the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3), and a member of the Faculty of Computer Science, Multimedia and Telecommunications at the UOC, "AI in education will enable us to get to know the students in our classroom better, to ascertain their knowledge at all times and anticipate any problems that they may have on a course."
The system that the UOC group will be developing for the European Patent Office will use artificial intelligence to analyse data and create prediction models, as well as natural language processing (NLP) tools to create the chatbot and analyse the text written by the student.
In addition to identifying students at risk, it aims to engage with students by combining recommendations with course materials, and to provide a chatbot so that the student receives the recommendations in a more personal and accessible way.
A tool for teaching staff
"This tool does not aim to replace the teaching staff, but instead to help identify students who may have a problem in the near future," explained Bañeres. "A detection system tries to anticipate a potential problem that may arise in the future. This makes the interventions more effective, as it's easier to alleviate a possible problem."
The researcher added that systems based on artificial intelligence can improve the personalized teaching of teachers with a large number of students. The only requirement for them to be implemented in universities and education centres is that the students' data must be available to enable the creation of models to predict the academic behaviour of the students receiving training on a course.
Work on the project, which has been presented to the EPO, has begun last May. It is an interdisciplinary project involving various members of faculty at the UOC, ranging from specialists in the Faculty of Law and Political Science to experts from the Faculty of Computer Science, Multimedia and Telecommunications. The eLearning Innovation Center (eLinC) will be supporting the project in the analysis of the most appropriate learning resources for the EPO.
This research by the UOC supports Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 (Quality Education).
The UOC's research and innovation (R&I) is helping overcome pressing challenges faced by global societies in the 21st century, by studying interactions between technology and human & social sciences with a specific focus on the network society, e-learning and e-health.
The UOC's research is conducted by over 500 researchers and 51 research groups distributed between the university's seven faculties, the E-learning Research programme, and two research centres: the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3) and the eHealth Center (eHC).
The United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and open knowledge serve as strategic pillars for the UOC's teaching, research and innovation. More information: research.uoc.edu #UOC25years
SOM Research Lab researcher