Can you tell whether the articles you read have been written by Artificial Intelligence (AI)?

For all you know, an AI language generator could be behind every word of this blog – a tool that paraphrases and rewrites what it has ‘read’ elsewhere. Or perhaps the author is still human, sipping tea and listening to a Higher Ed podcast. Well today it’s the latter, but tomorrow it might not be!

Many questions spring to the minds of lecturers and instructors – will AI continue to help us, or replace us? Second to that question is: how will students interact with AI – with academic integrity, or wilful exploitation?

Artificial Intelligence presents opportunities and challenges to the Higher Education sector. Its ultimate role is unknown, but it certainly will open up new ways of engaging with students and create efficiencies. At Wiley, we watch the advancements of technology with great interest – our textbooks are supported by a raft of innovative technology-based resources to provide digital tools that make teaching and assessment quicker. But technology in Higher Education is a quickly evolving landscape, and we all need to keep our finger on the pulse.

What does AI look like in Higher Education?

AI is defined as the development of computer systems that can perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, through use of reasoning, logic and decision making. You’ll immediately think of chess-playing computers or self-driving cards. But what does it look like in Higher Education?

AI offers universities the ability to streamline processes through automation. In coursework delivery, assessment is a frequent, high-volume function that can be computerised. The grading, assessing and provision of feedback presents a key opportunity to take advantage of AI technology.

AI-powered chat-bots are on the cards for academic support and queries. Dubbed the ‘teacher-bot’, this type of AI could receive student questions and respond with explanations or clarify course content. It’s thought that more students may be willing to seek help this way because it eliminates the embarrassment of asking a real person a ‘silly question’. But this could re-engineer the traditional roles of instructors and tutors.

An interesting concept that’s cropped up is the notion of personalised education. AI could help ascertain a student’s level of knowledge on a given topic and personalise the learning content, tailoring a study programme that suits a student’s knowledge gaps and learning style. This would significantly expand the possibilities in teaching, learning and research.

AI can achieve efficiencies in assessments and marking

While economic strains place pressure on our teaching departments, there is opportunity to search for efficiencies, and the answer lies in automation. When instructors embrace AI for repetitive tasks that can be computerised, their time can be re-prioritised for activities like enhancing coursework delivery and interacting with students.

Grading assessments is one of the more time-consuming aspects of academic life. We already see major advancements in computerised assignments and automated marking. The technology that some of Wiley’s publications utilise is a great example: the WileyPLUS (WP) platform, included in several of our titles, provides an interactive assessment testbank.

WileyPLUS can be integrated directly into the Learning Management System (LMS), allowing instructors to set formative and summative assessments at the click of a button. With various testing types on hand, instructors can pick their questions, edit the testbank and randomise the question set for different students. After the assessment is set up and released, the automated delivery and grading is efficient and effective.

By establishing some assessment components within AI functionality, academics will free up their time for quality evaluations of assessment types that could never be entrusted to AI. Technology and academics can work together to provide an overarching quality assessment process.

The ability for AI technology to help us combat academic misconduct is also significant. Where students may try to outwit automated assessments or mis-use AI themselves (through AI-generated essays), we can continue to harness technology to uphold academic integrity. Plagiarism software and new AI technology that identifies contract cheating already exists. And WileyPLUS uses different algorithmic variables on tests to reduce cheating opportunities and maintain academic integrity.

The journey towards AI and technology-based resources

In the world of textbook publishing, Wiley continues to respond to technology advancements to align with the needs of the sector.