EdTech Engage conference to focus on AI in higher education

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State EdTech Network will host Penn State faculty and researchers alongside IBM, Google, IPSoft and 14 other industry partners during EdTech Engage, Oct. 5-6, at several locations on the Penn State University Park campus. The symposium will create an environment where participants can examine how artificial intelligence and machine learning can improve the student experience and address operational challenges in a university setting.

Larry Ragan, principal community aggregator for the Penn State EdTech Network, said people look at AI with skepticism and wonder.

“EdTech Engage will provide attendees with a range of experiences to learn and explore existing AI technologies, a glimpse into future direction, and discussions built around the positive and negative ramifications of AI and machine learning in higher education,” Ragan said.

Catherine Solazzo, vice president of developer engagement for IBM Digital Business Group and keynote speaker at EdTech Engage, said artificial intelligence platforms like IBM Watson could transform the learning experience for both students and administrators.

“AI plays a role in higher education in two main ways,” Solazzo said. “To impart learners with skills that will help them succeed in the new world of AI; and for use by administrators to leverage that technology and understand how students learn, to then create a more personalized experience for them.”

Edwin Van Bommel, chief cognitive officer for IPSoft, will center his keynote on "Amelia" — a cognitive agent that can serve as a service desk representative.

“Amelia has a great career ahead of her in education,” Van Bommel said. “As a member of the faculty, Amelia could work as an assistant — so professors can spend more of their time researching and teaching instead of organizing schedules and wading through administrative paperwork.”

Penn State researchers will join the conversation to share their work with AI during "Lightning Talks." Topics will include leveraging human interactions alongside AI to promote student success; robots that teach students academic integrity; predictive modeling and visualization of emotions in Twitter feeds; and using AI as a tool to identify living and fossil leaves. The symposium will also offer an opportunity for teams who participated in the Nittany Watson Challenge to offer a share-out of their minimum viable products including solutions for transfer credit issues as well as a model for an AI academic adviser.

Daren Coudriet, director of the Penn State EdTech Network, said the two-day event is one of many opportunities offered by the network to bring industry professionals together with faculty, staff and students.

“One of the primary goals of the Penn State EdTech Network is to facilitate connections, generate innovative ideas and fund strategic initiatives,” Coudriet said. “EdTech Engage will foster this effort by creating a community setting where not only the opportunities presented by AI in higher education can be explored — but also the potential challenges it could create for society and how they can be addressed.”

For more information, visit EdTech Engage online.

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Last Updated September 13, 2017