They Help Students Succeed.. This Is How Data Changed The University Study Experience

 Many universities and colleges rely on applications and analytics in order to attract students and move them forward towards graduation to launch their careers, and the covid-19 pandemic has resulted in an urgent need to use analytics as a tool for universities to support students outside the classroom.

Beth dicarbo, in an article published by the American newspaper (Wall street journal), said that an AI-enhanced chatbot, called Bounce, was hired to take the place of officials at the (University of Georgia), where the virtual version of it was presented to new students in the summer of 2016.

Students were able to send questions to" bounce " around the clock all days of the week, and get answers about student financial aid, enrollment, housing, admission, academic counseling; and all this in just seconds.

And after 3 years, the experiment was generalized to all students but with broader capabilities, such as intervening when the robot finds that the student is at risk of failing a class or dropping out of school.

Timothy M. Renick, executive director of the National Institute for student success at Georgia State in Atlanta, said that using predictive analytics risk factors can be identified early, rather than waiting for students to find solutions on their own.

Graduation guides

The author pointed out that the state of Georgia was at the forefront of those who intensified their use of applications and analytics by colleges to help attract students and guide them through graduation and start their careers, these digital initiatives are aimed at supporting all students, but are especially useful for black, Latino and Indigenous students in obtaining their degrees.

At the inaugural virtual Innovation Awards, The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Naspa Foundation, which cares for students across America, thanked colleges from across the country last year for their outstanding and determined efforts to help students during the pandemic and beyond.

San Diego State University was one of the award-winning universities; the University extracts its data to identify students who have not registered by March or April for the fall semester, a signal of early warning of the risk of school dropout, and then teams of university staff and mentors communicate with these students.

They discovered early in the pandemic that access to computers and a stable internet connection were common obstacles that these students faced in distance learning. To counter this, the university distributed hundreds of laptops and internet signal boosters.

The author stated that colleges use artificial intelligence in certain tasks; such as:

Full or almost full use in the performance of tasks and functions.

Partial use in some functional roles such as planning, experimentation, and initial use.

The university has also used chatbots and digital assistants in student success and support, identifying academically at-risk students, sending early academic alarms, and customizing instruction and processing based on student interactions and performance. It can also identify students with non-academic problems.

According to the author, many schools are still lagging behind in adopting this technology; an estimated 20-25% of higher education institutions do not have applications for data analysis, due to factors such as budget constraints or lack of approval of faculty and staff.

Nevertheless, the emergence of the pandemic has accelerated the use of analytics as a tool to enable schools to expand their support for students outside the classroom.

For example, the Georgia State chatbot was set up to recognize "keywords" and immediately deliver the student's message to someone experienced in crisis management, such as a student's conversation with the chatbot about feeling depressed or wanting to commit suicide. after receiving a supportive chat message, the Georgia sophomore replied, "It was especially stressful with deteriorating mental health and unwillingness to live".

Within minutes, a faculty member followed up with the student and referred her to campus counselors, in addition to her academic advisor.

Scores show results

Students who received the chatbot messages were more likely to get an "A" or "very good" grade than those who did not receive messages, the University found. First-generation students who receive letters also received final grades about 11 points higher than similar students who do not receive letters.

For the next stage of data analysis, some schools are exploring or implementing advanced machine learning applications that can analyze 150 or more student traits by referencing historical data archives; understanding these different traits and how they relate to student outcomes allows schools to provide individualized support based on student needs.

In a survey of more than 16 thousand university students in 71 US institutions, 49% of respondents agreed with the statement that "I trust my institution to use my personal data ethically and responsibly," while 17% were opposed, and almost half said they do not understand how their personal data is used.

How the pandemic has changed the ways of universities

Covid-19 has prompted many colleges and universities to rely on online education and remote work in light of the spread of the pandemic, where work has been done to provide assistance to students to achieve their goals efficiently and easily and reach success, without the need for contact and contact, according to a report for the website (Educause).

Having technologies and analytics is an advanced and promising step if it is provided to students, faculty, and staff, which enables secure access to information and requirements, as most universities and colleges offer applications that enable students to access data such as academic status, materials, and others.

On the other hand, students at universities that do not provide such access face difficulty in tracking themselves and progress compared to those who have these technologies, and faculty and staff may lack adequate training or even access to use technologies to provide assistance to students.

At times, students face academic or even personal difficulties, as covid-19 has turned life upside down and ways of life have become more difficult, which increases the likelihood that large numbers of students will need additional help; in the past decade, applications and technologies that help identify at-risk students and provide them with support have become useful and more widespread, which has had a positive impact on students.

Most universities have effective systems in place to identify academic difficulties early and to provide assistance to students, faculty, and advisors to cope with these difficulties.

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