At the turn of the 21st century, many experts and researchers believed that cognitive computing was the hope of a near future. Unlike programmable systems based on the deterministic rules, cognitive systems are designed to weigh information and ideas from multiple sources to reason and then offer hypotheses for consideration. This article discusses how cognitive computing can bring benefits when applied in the education field. The education sector will greatly benefit from cognitive computing.
Imagine this scenario. A student asks the cognitive assistant, “I want to go to university and I need 450 UCAS points to get accepted by a well-known university. What grades do I need to achieve on my remaining assignments to achieve the required number of points to get to university?” Even before the student has asked the question, the cognitive assistant may provide the answer. For example, the cognitive assistant will know that the student needs 450 UCAS points to get his or her chosen university and will advise the student on the grades to be obtained when the assignments are posted on the learning management system of the institution by the teachers on the course. The point is that the technology will ease the burden and workload of teachers as they can refer the query to their cognitive assistant.
The technology helps students to find out which course to pursue after completing the current course or any other information regarding current or further studies. It can also act as a personal tutor, guiding students through their course work, explaining problematic sections.
Good teachers can differentiate, contextualize and personalize the way they structure and present topics to their students in a classroom setting. Good teachers make this job look effortless, and frequently do so. When the class gets bigger, it becomes increasingly difficult to differentiate, and eventually becomes impossible, especially when the class has a wide range of students. However, the cognitive computing and cognitive assistants simplify the task and enables course teams to effectively differentiate, contextualize and personalize at scale. Cognitive computing helps teachers provide informed feedback to each student.
If you take any college or university, there would be teams that are dedicated to providing specific support services for their students such as career advice, student finance, examination support, academic support, and so on. Now do you want to know that how cognitive computing comes into the picture of support team? Just understand the following scenario. For example, a student calls into the student finance office to enquire about making an application for a student grant. The student wants to know whether they are eligible for a grant. In this situation, the support team would ask the student to answer a set of questions to determine whether they are eligible to apply for the grant. If the student meets the eligibility criteria, the application process can continue. The student may be asked to fill an online form or a paper form. Once the details are taken from the student, there would be a waiting period before the student learns about the outcome of their application. Things would be different if the student uses cognitive services. The cognitive service could be given the task of maximizing the total number of students who benefit from the institution's grant scheme. If the institution has collected a large amount of data from each student as they enrolled for their courses, the information could be used to determine the student’s eligibility to the grant scheme for all students across the campus. Eligible students would receive notification through multiple channels such as student home page, the institution's mobile app, social media or SMS. If there are enough data held on individuals, students may not even have to apply for the grant. The time taken to realize the institution's goal for its grant scheme could be measured in seconds.
Cognitive computing can automate many tedious administrative tasks, helping institutions to save on resources and deliver a better service. There is no doubt that if teachers and support teams use cognitive services to better support their students, educational services can be improved.