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With AI, be careful what you ask for

While AI holds great promise for higher education, according to a data scientist who spoke at a recent online conference, it also threatens to cause great harm to students if algorithms are not designed and used properly. “Algorithms are everywhere. They’re basically replacing bureaucratic processes, deciding who deserves a job, who gets insurance at what costs, who gets a loan. It even decides how long someone should go to jail based on what they think the risk of being rearrested is," said Cathy O’Neil during Educause's online conference. In education, she said, algorithms have been used to unfairly disadvantage students, but institutions should instead use automation to support their students and further business goals. Betsy Foresman has more.

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Not everyone loves technology

The chief academic officer of Colorado Technical University, which teaches most of its 27,000 students exclusively online, said during Educause's online conference that some staff were refusing to adopt new tools introduced as part of the university's response to the pandemic. Just because they teach online, said Connie Johnson, doesn't mean teachers are ready to embrace change. "How do you move a culture that in an emergency situation don’t want to do it? How do you move them forward?” she asked. Colin Wood reports.

Data to measure engagement

As universities move classes online, educators have turned to new methods of measurement to understand how their students are reacting and engaging with the materials — and holding up during the pandemic. Catherine Zabriskie, director of academic technology services at Brown University, said collecting data is an essential part of understanding how her university is performing. “As we all imagine having students that are remote during the fall semester, it will be even more important to be able, for instructors to be able to, on a daily, on an hourly basis be able to look and see how all of their students are engaging,” she said. Betsy has the story.

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