How AI will transform higher education

May 3, 2024 Watermark Insights

How AI will transform higher education

The last few years have been a whirlwind of change for higher education institutions. Between the rapid rise of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies and digitalization, colleges and universities operate differently than they did just a decade ago. 

Explore the impact of AI on higher education and how these tools will reshape and benefit the academic world over the next five years.

14 ways AI will transform higher education

Artificial intelligence is revolutionizing how colleges and universities operate and support their students. Explore the ways it will continue transforming higher education over the next few years:

1. Recruitment and admissions

Institutions are using AI to supercharge their recruitment and admissions efforts in various ways, including:

  • Targeting and outreach: By collecting and analyzing data about the successful applicants at your college or university with advanced tools, you can identify key characteristics and preferences to inform your marketing and outreach campaigns. 
  • Application processing: AI and machine learning tools are streamlining the application process for students and institutions. Colleges and universities can efficiently comb through potential applicants by automating much of the review process. 
  • Personalized support: Another key use of AI is personalized support for applicants and students. They can turn to a virtual assistant or chatbot with their questions about enrollment requirements, policies, and deadlines. 
  • Predictive enrollment: Integrated AI tools can help your institution use historical data to create predictive models that anticipate upcoming enrollment numbers. You can use these predictions to inform resource allocation and future planning.

AI is helping institutions save time, money, and energy on their recruiting and admissions processes.

2. Student performance

Artificial intelligence tools help higher education institutions monitor academic performance with greater understanding and precision than ever before. Insights into factors like course loads, grades, attendance, and engagement can help leadership teams actively identify struggling learners. 

College students may not take the initiative to ask for help when they fall behind in a class or overcommit to too many activities. Data can help your institution proactively intervene and provide individuals with the support they need to stay enrolled and succeed academically. 

AI tools are also helping institutions find learning gaps and educational deficiencies throughout their courses and programs. The right data collection tools can monitor student outcomes and flag potential challenges. These solutions can be an incredible resource for pinpointing the specific learning materials that many of your students are not retaining. 

Your institution can use these insights to improve course content, find new resources and revamp curriculums that need improvement. By monitoring and acting on the data from AI, higher education institutions can support better student performance. 

3. Retention

Along with using AI tools to monitor student performance, institutions are also capitalizing on these solutions to support higher student retention rates. 

Colleges and universities analyze institutional and behavioral data to predict and gauge the number of students who will see their education through to graduation. This data provides invaluable insight into student tendencies and helps institutions prioritize retention efforts for those who are at risk of dropping out or transferring. 

AI tools are helping make higher education retention efforts proactive rather than reactive, which is highly beneficial for creating systemic changes to support students throughout their academic journeys. These insights make it easier to intervene when students are not engaged or performing well instead of waiting until they actively consider leaving your institution, and it is potentially too late to inspire them to stay enrolled. 

4. Accreditation preparation

Accreditation preparation is a leading use of AI in higher education. Traditionally, planning for the accreditation process can be time-intensive, complicated, and very demanding. Today, colleges and universities are using artificial intelligence to their advantage and streamlining the entire prep process. Institutions are using the data sourced from AI tools strategically to inform quality assurance at every level of operation, from course materials to faculty expertise. 

Some of the ways AI can assist with accreditation preparation include:

  • Boosting collaboration across campus.
  • Monitoring academic outcomes.
  • Evaluating program effectiveness. 
  • Analyzing the quality of campus resources.
  • Employing data-driven decision-making.
  • Predicting student trends.
  • Meeting compliance standards.

Artificial intelligence tools provide real-time insight into operational inefficiencies and opportunities for improvement. They can play a significant role in helping colleges and universities meet accreditation criteria, making the process easier and more straightforward than before.

5. Personalized learning

Another way AI will transform higher education in the near future is by supercharging personalized learning initiatives.

Personalized learning is an instructional method that tailors the course content to a student's unique needs, learning styles, and engagement level. This educational style helps many individuals work with their strengths for a more enjoyable, interesting, and beneficial experience. 

AI helps higher education institutions offer more personalized learning through the following:

  • Intelligent tutoring systems: Colleges and universities are implementing generative AI-powered tutoring solutions, such as virtual assistants and chatbots, to help students get support and guidance when they need it. 
  • Adaptive learning and assessments: AI is a handy tool for generating personalized assessments to suit the difficulty level, pace, and type of questions to coincide with a student's specific learning style. 
  • Custom content recommendations: Artificial intelligence also makes finding content recommendations based on student preferences and characteristics simple, helping more individuals find relevant resources and media to support successful learning outcomes and engagement. 

According to a 2023 Forbes Advisor survey, 55% of teaching professionals found artificial intelligence improved educational experiences. These tools are creating a more inclusive academic environment for all kinds of learners and students. 

6. Research

AI is transforming how higher education institutions approach research. No longer are students and faculty hitting the books and spending hours reviewing content in the campus library or on their laptops. Now, automated tools are revolutionizing how individuals gather, explore, and investigate information. 

Explore the primary uses of AI to benefit higher education research:

  • Automated literature analysis: One of the most powerful capabilities of AI is processing massive datasets, which makes these tools particularly well-suited for reviewing content. Instead of spending hours combing through dozens of articles, websites, and books, AI can analyze and create summaries of important information and trends from a huge volume of literature. 
  • Research assistance: Getting clarification on a confusing topic or asking for additional information is easy with the help of an AI-powered assistant. This technology can streamline the process of gathering and analyzing supporting resources. 
  • Collaboration: Artificial intelligence can also enhance collaborative research efforts, helping multiple researchers work together more efficiently. 

7. Student support and degree roadmaps

One way AI inspires change in higher education is by enhancing student support, especially regarding meeting degree requirements. 

AI-powered tools are helping students navigate graduation criteria by providing degree roadmaps that outline important information, such as:

  • Recommended course sequence: Artificial intelligence can use data to determine the best order for students to take their courses, helping them lay a foundational understanding before progressing to more advanced ideas. These tools can also help by outlining prerequisites and credit thresholds. 
  • Beneficial electives: AI can also process student and academic data to determine the best elective courses to complement the student's degree requirements. 
  • Degree progression: AI in higher ed also helps students monitor their progress towards graduation. These platforms make it simple to see what requirements are remaining and what credits learners have already completed in real-time. 
  • “What-if” scenarios: Colleges and universities can also provide students with tools to visualize “what-if” scenarios, such as adding a minor or changing a major, to see how the update will impact their degree progression. 

AI is streamlining everything from student record management to course registration to graduation assistance, helping your students and advisors save valuable time and energy.

8. Curriculum development

Artificial intelligence is also revolutionizing how higher education institutions are shaping the curricula for each degree program. 

Curriculum development

A huge advantage of having access to AI tools is being able to use them for labor market data analysis. The current and predictive insights an institution gleans from today's workforce can guide decision-making. Institutions are tailoring their course curricula to align with skills and expertise highly sought after by employers.  

AI in higher education also helps colleges and universities determine popular and lucrative academic programs at their institution. They can use these insights to inform budgeting and resource allocation. 

Another way AI is transforming curriculum development is by automating course creation. These tools are highly useful for streamlining time-intensive tasks, such as:

  • Finding relevant course materials.
  • Creating syllabus outlines.
  • Synthesizing complicated concepts.

9. Virtual and augmented reality

AI and higher education are coming together to offer students more innovative and interactive learning opportunities. AI-powered virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) tools are completely transforming how colleges and universities approach complex subjects. 

Explore some of the ways AR and VR tools benefit higher education institutions:

  • Virtual tours: Exploring college campuses is easier than ever for prospective students. They can use VR and AR solutions to learn more about the environment and check out different amenities from any location. 
  • Immersive learning: AR and VR tools also provide students with an opportunity to practice applying what they've learned in class to real-world scenarios without leaving campus. 
  • Risk-free experiments: Advanced VR and AR technology help students and faculty try new techniques and apply different methods without the risks associated with performing the experiment in real life. 
  • Immersion: Institutions can also use AR and VR for immersive learning experiences for students, such as practicing a foreign language or expanding cultural understanding in a simulated environment.

10. Communication and teamwork

Today, a major role of AI in higher education is boosting communication across campus. Artificial intelligence tools are streamlining how colleges and universities collaborate and coordinate busy schedules. 

AI tools can do the following to streamline communication across different departments and sectors:

  • Analyze availability.
  • Track preferences.
  • Flag communication constraints.
  • Recommend meeting times.
  • Identify qualified faculty members.

Having tools that automate scheduling and offer guidance for optimized communication allows higher education institutions to save time and energy on inefficient or ineffective teamwork efforts. 

Chatbots and virtual assistants are also streamlining higher education communication, allowing individuals to find the answers or solutions they are looking for independently, without having to call, email, or message anyone.

11. Smart campuses

AI in higher education also transforms how colleges and universities approach their campus operations. Many are choosing to convert their institutions into smart campuses, meaning integrating tools to optimize the following:

  • Resource allocation
  • Energy efficiency and sustainability
  • Space utilization
  • Security and safety
  • Campus navigation

Smart campuses are ultimately improving how higher education institutions operate and function. These AI-powered technologies are helping colleges and universities do the following:

  • Cut costs.
  • Improve remote learning.
  • Connect campus systems .
  • Improve student experiences.

AI is also a driving force in enhancing campus design to create a more intuitive and accessible institution for all students. 

12. Academic integrity

Higher education institutions are using AI tools to monitor student submissions and gauge academic integrity. AI solutions can help faculty members manage their students' work in various ways, including detecting plagiarism. 

AI-powered plagiarism checkers analyze content and compare it with large resource databases across the internet to determine if a piece of writing is authentic and new. Professors can use these text-matching tools to automatically check research papers, essays and other assignments before grading. They will identify potential instances of copying or paraphrasing that could get past human evaluations. 

Higher education institutions can capitalize on AI tools to promote honesty, ethics, and hard work.

13. Accessibility

Another way artificial intelligence is reshaping the higher education landscape is by boosting accessibility. AI can provide a wide range of adaptive technologies, including:

  • Text-to-speech.
  • Speech regulation.
  • Language translation.

AI tools are helping students with disabilities, language barriers, and other challenges navigate their coursework with greater support. They are able to lean on these solutions to assist with studying, completing assignments, and engaging with extracurriculars. 

Students also use AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants for social and emotional support. These platforms can provide recommendations for counseling and mental health resources on campus. 

14. Faculty support

Artificial intelligence transforms how faculty members at higher education institutions perform their jobs. Many repetitive and time-consuming processes, such as grading and analyzing student academic performance, can be handed over to AI tools to boost efficiency and accuracy. 

Professors can use AI algorithms that automatically grade and provide feedback on assignments and exams. They can also use advanced AI tools to:

  • Identify opportunities for improvement.
  • Source teaching materials.
  • Recommend teaching methods.
  • Provide personalized suggestions for upskilling.

Request a demo of Watermark's higher education software

If your college or university wants to foster continuous improvement and take advantage of artificial intelligence tools, turn to the solutions from Watermark. 

We've designed our software specifically to serve higher education institutions. We'll help your college or university by simplifying the data collection process and automating repetitive tasks. You can drive key decision-making and take your institution to the next level with access to the data from our solutions. 

We'll save your faculty and staff time so they can focus on providing students with the best experiences possible. 

Request a demo of the higher education software from Watermark. 

Request a demo of Watermark's higher education software

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