Students didn’t know their TA was a computer
College of Computing Professor Ashok Goel teaches Knowledge Based Artificial Intelligence (KBAI) every semester. It’s a core requirement of Georgia Tech’s online master’s of science in computer science program. And every time he offers it, Goel estimates, his 300 or so students post roughly 10,000 messages in the online forums — far too many inquiries for him and his eight teaching assistants (TA) to handle.
That’s why Goel added a ninth TA this semester. Her name is Jill Watson, and she’s unlike any other TA in the world. In fact, she’s not even a “she.” Jill is a computer — a virtual TA —implemented on IBM’s Watson platform.
“The world is full of online classes, and they’re plagued with low retention rates,” Goel said. “One of the main reasons many students drop out is because they don’t receive enough teaching support. We created Jill as a way to provide faster answers and feedback.”
Goel and his team of Georgia Tech graduate students started to build her last year. They contacted Piazza, the course’s online discussion forum, to track down all the questions that had ever been asked in KBAI since the class was launched in fall 2014 (about 40,000 postings in all). Then they started to feed Jill the questions and answers.
“One of the secrets of online classes is that the number of questions increases if you have more students, but the number of different questions doesn’t really go up,” Goel said. “Students tend to ask the same questions over and over again.”
That’s an ideal situation for the Watson platform, which specializes in answering questions with distinct, clear solutions. The team wrote code that allows Jill to field routine questions that are asked every semester. For example, students consistently ask where they can find particular assignments and readings.
Jill wasn’t very good for the first few weeks after she started in January, often giving odd and irrelevant answers. Her responses were posted in a forum that wasn’t visible to students.
“Initially her answers weren’t good enough because she would get stuck on keywords,” said Lalith Polepeddi, one of the graduate students who co-developed the virtual TA. “For example, a student asked about organizing a meet-up to go over video lessons with others, and Jill gave an answer referencing a textbook that could supplement the video lessons — same keywords — but different context. So we learned from mistakes like this one, and gradually made Jill smarter.”
After some tinkering by the research team, Jill found her groove and soon was answering questions with 97 percent certainty. When she did, the human TAs would upload her responses to the students. By the end of March, Jill didn’t need any assistance: She wrote the class directly if she was 97 percent positive her answer was correct.
The students, who were studying artificial intelligence, were unknowingly interacting with it. Goel didn’t inform them about Jill’s true identity until April 26. The student response was uniformly positive. One admitted her mind was blown. Another asked if Jill could “come out and play.” Since then some students have organized a KBAI alumni forum to learn about new developments with Jill after the class ends, and another group of students has launched an open source project to replicate her.
Back in February, student Tyson Bailey began to wonder if Jill was a computer and posted his suspicions on Piazza.
“We were taking an AI course, so I had to imagine that it was possible there might be an AI lurking around,” said Bailey, who lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “Then again, I asked Dr. Goel if he was a computer in one of my first email interactions with him. I think it’s a great idea and hope that they continue to improve it.”
Jill ended the semester able to answer many routine questions asked. She’ll return —with a different name — next semester. The goal is to have the virtual teaching assistant answer 40 percent of all questions by the end of year.
The Latest on: AI Teaching Assistant
via Google News
The Latest on: AI Teaching Assistant
- Erin Toola is newest AAG on November 18, 2019 at 10:32 am
She also worked in French Guiana for several months, teaching an English class. She is fluent in French. “I look forward to serving the community and advocating for survivors during my time in the ...
- ‘Automation apocalypse’ a ‘dark side’ of Florida’s push for AI/AV commercial development on November 14, 2019 at 6:45 am
Industry and academic leaders told a Florida Senate panel Wednesday that teaching “soft skills” such as teamwork ... millions of dollars in incubating commercial development of artificial intelligence ...
- Top 40 under 40: Introducing six young highfliers on November 12, 2019 at 1:23 am
During his Senior Six vacation, Kyokwijuka secured teaching jobs at two schools in Kabale district ... This changed her company for good. He is a gem in the fields of artificial Intelligence, robotics ...
- Five scenarios of AI-dominated future on November 10, 2019 at 12:13 am
Park, teaching economics at the Saginaw Valley State University ... A woman in search of romance may say "date" and the personal AI assistant scours "the cloud for three possible dates." The assistant ...
- SEAS Faculty Anticipate Growing Artificial Intelligence Offerings in Allston on November 8, 2019 at 12:48 am
Several Computer Science faculty members pointed to the current lack of space at SEAS as a constraint on further expansion of faculty research and teaching in artificial intelligence. Kohler said the ...
- Virtual Writing Assistant Startup Launches New Direct-to-Student Product on November 7, 2019 at 10:21 am
The product, called Interactive Editor™, uses artificial intelligence to replicate teacher-quality feedback on essay organization ... www.ecree.com View original content to download ...
- URI student from Mystic taught AI and learned to teach at camps for kids on November 6, 2019 at 8:51 pm
Miller and Farley are student employees in the Artificial Intelligence lab within the Robert L. Carothers Library and Learning Commons. They met as teachers’ assistants in a computer science class.
- Microsoft wants to teach drones, robots and drills how to think on November 4, 2019 at 10:32 pm
Now Microsoft is talking about something called machine teaching. No the software maker doesn’t plan to send robots into classrooms ... Microsoft vice president, business AI. “A lot of these folks who ...
- How AI’s ‘Endless Well of Patience’ Can Augment What Teachers Do on November 4, 2019 at 9:06 am
As the chief technology officer and assistant dean of the Stanford Graduate School ... One edtech company that has embraced an AI-plus-human-teacher approach is Squirrel AI Learning, a Chinese company ...
- Fatmah Baothman, the first woman in the Middle East with a PhD in AI on October 29, 2019 at 5:17 pm
Dr. Fatmah Baothman played a vital role in establishing King Abdul Aziz University’s computer science department for women, and became the first appointed teaching assistant in the department ...
via Bing News