The advent of the digital age brought about many conveniences in our daily lives. One of the most significant innovations has been in the area of ‘Artificial Intelligence’ or AI. AI is technology where machines are capable of performing human tasks like ‘thinking’, ‘learning’, ‘modeling’, and ‘self-development’. Early AI was used in board games, but with the rapid development of technology, artificial intelligence has grown to a neural network capable of pattern recognition, natural language recognition, image processing, computer vision and so on.
In the midst of the AI boom, Dankook University (DKU) decided to add artificial intelligence services to the school system. Dubbed ‘DanAI’ (pronounced as Dan A-Yee), this AI chatbot program began in 2017. An experimentation period started in March before it was formally introduced to the general population of DKU in the first semester of 2018. Now, the DanAI system is slowly cementing its place in Dankookian (students of DKU) campus life. Technology from the 4th Industrial Revolution is a prime focus at DKU and it concentrates on research into super-intelligence and a hyper-intelligent society through a convergence between information and communication technology. In fact, the motto of DanAI is state motto.
|▲ AI is now playing a significant role in economy and scientific research, and soon will be in education.|
As DanAI is easy to use, students have access to a lot of information without committing to long search processes. If a student asks a question, DanAI quickly and accurately delivers the answer after scanning the entire academic system. Students wanting to know about any given subject can find information through DanAI. Academic questions, how to apply for classes, general information about the weather and even employment services are all covered. The system can also help users determine their skillset and aptitude based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) enabling students to determine their most suitable career and future plans. The program has a voice recognition system enabling students to ask, as well as type, questions for DanAI. As the current chatbot continues to be developed, the program is expected to bring positive changes to DKU student life with access to a 24-hour question-and-answer platform providing up-to-date information, personal student counselling and improved working skills for professors and staff.
To know more about DanAI, the Dankook Herald (DKH) interviewed DanAI lead researcher Seo Eung-gyo and fellow researcher Park Byeong-jun of the school’s Future Education Center. We talked about the detailed functions of DanAI and planned future changes.
|▲ The lead researcher, Seo and fellow researcher, Park in the Future Education Center of Dankook University.|
Seo explained the AI chatbot started with the intention of helping students with self-directed learning. The center’s researchers thought of how best to help students and determined an AI system would make the education curriculum easier. So, the work into developing an AI system to support student’s self-directed learning began. Seo mentioned he is glad that DanAI has been launched and sees the program as a development project that will run for up to 4 years. Now in its first year there remains much work to be done to see it reach its full potential.
Seo sees DanAI changing our school in two ways. It changes the services offered to students and increases accessibility to information. Before DanAI was developed, students relied on their professors or teaching assistants (TA) for information. However, this had its limitations due to availability and accessibility. Now students can project their enquiries at anytime to DanAI. This reduces the number of repetitive inquiries to professors or TAs too. The development team is now in the process of creating a ‘recommendation’ function for DanAI where the AI engine studies student requests and searches and provides users with customized information. The program creators think this feature will make the program even more beneficial for students.
To further provide an enhanced service to users, the development team plans to track data records and frequently asked questions, so they can reinforce or even highlight the responses to questions that students asked the most. When it comes to aiding an increasing number of foreign students, the research team plans to add a proper translator and offer the enhanced voice recognition system in different languages. The team hopes that eventually all students benefit from the program. Since it is still in its first-year, there remain ideas to be tested and more work to be done than people originally anticipated.
While an educational AI system might be quite new for campuses in South Korea, they have been around for quite some time in other developed countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, parts of Europe and even recently, China. Primarily, the AI system is being applied in scientific research, assisting in tasks like running experiments and data analysis. For instance, the University of Aberystwyth, UK is known for creating an autonomous system which can execute an entire scientific process, from hypothesis formulation to running the experiment and analyzing data to even generating the next experiment. A few months ago, an AI robot scientist named Eve, created at the University of Manchester, found a possible cure for malaria, a tropical disease that predominantly impacts Africa and Southeast Asia.
Aside from conducting research, AI can also be used by normal students in their studies. An AI chatbot named Alex is used at the Technical University of Berlin to help students with course planning and other academic tasks such as grading and evaluation. Also, some universities like Georgia and Arizona State in the US use an AI system to evaluate and monitor student performance. As a result of the data collected, campuses and professors can speculate when and how to motivate students to prevent them from dropping out.
|▲ DanAI's launching event in the university's Central Library earlier this year in March.|
All in all, the 4th Industrial Revolution brought about a lot of breakthroughs in AI, fundamentally changing our society. It was inevitable that DKU would also feel the pressure to develop its technology infrastructure. DanAI could aid in the fundamental process of teaching or research. In the past, when people thought that something was impossible, the miracle of new technology would change our fate, most of the time, for the better. As the further development of DanAI slowly comes to fruition, many students anticipate a much better student life. In the future, DanAI will be seen as the first milestone for the university as it moves into the age of education combined with technology.
Edward Ng, 김민, 신지희 firstname.lastname@example.org