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Is Your TA A Robot?

  • June 07, 2016|
  • 2 years ago

by Melissa Korn

The Wall Street Journal

Article excerpt

Imagine Discovering That Your Teaching Assistant Really Is a Robot

Online learning has opened the door for instructors to reach a gigantic, global audience. Trouble is, many students can ask a lot of questions, burdening human TAs, said Ashok Goel, a professor of computer science at Georgia Tech. It was he who recruited Ms. Watson for his Knowledge-Based Artificial Intelligence class.

Our take

Real or Robot? It Can Be Hard to Tell.

Online learning options, many instructors find, can be far more burdensome than a typical in-class experience. The asynchronous nature of student interaction means instructors can be flooded with questions and inquiries 24/7, especially when teaching across time zones. What role might artificial intelligence play in lightening the load?

It may seem far too futuristic, but artificial intelligence (AI) has already been used in ways that allowed interactions between students and a robotic TA in an online environment. And, the students didn’t know the difference between robot and reality. There’s certainly a balance to be struck in terms of finding the right interplay between teacher and technology, but as this example demonstrates there are practical ways that technology can be used to augment, rather than replace, real teachers—freeing them up to focus on other activities.