Georgia Tech is developing artificially intelligent agents that are unleashing the potential of lifetime learning.
The Emprize research team has created a transformative approach to serving millions of students in online courses using artificial intelligence. The AI agents help fulfill the promise of online learning as a critical part of the future of education – by increasing engagement, helping retention, and improving learning outcomes. These benefits are also making their way into traditional classrooms.
Georgia Tech’s Emprize – or adventurous enterprise – team is building the next generation of artificial intelligence tools for education based on the Jill Watson AI framework. Emprize is reflective of the approach that team members are taking to tackle multiple challenges in the online learning space and develop core AI technologies that can scale worldwide to address a variety of student needs.
AI agents currently deployed in online and residential courses:
- Jill Watson | Virtual Teaching Assistant
- Jill Watson | Social Agent
- VERA | Virtual Research Assistant
- Jill + VERA | Virtual Teaching Assistant for Science Experiments
Where Are We Now?
The Jill Watson virtual teaching assistant – introduced in 2016 to answer common course questions in the ground-breaking Online Master of Science in Computer Science degree program – is marking 2019 with several milestones that have the potential to lead to transformative global changes in education.
Researchers started with online computing courses in introducing the Jill Watson virtual TA, and now the agent will be answering questions from residential students in the Introduction to Biology course at Georgia Tech. This expansion signifies the “anytime, anywhere” ethos of the Emprize team and its goal to create AI agents for any subject or course format.
Another first for the Jill Watson AI framework is the introduction of a social agent, designed to directly address social barriers in online classes and connect online and residential students quickly to their peers. It is intended ultimately to help support students adapt more quickly to rigorous course requirements and foster a community where students can build their own support structures.
One of the most critical advancements to the Jill Watson AI framework in 2019 is the development of combined AI agents.
The biology course is using two Jill-powered agents – the first answers common questions as the Jill virtual TA has in earlier courses – and another version of the Jill TA partners with a powerful AI agent, VERA, that is an expert in ecology. Jill helps students to quickly get started using VERA, or virtual ecological research assistant, which was developed to introduce students to scientific experimentation and enable them to create their own ecological models and simulations. Combining Jill Watson and VERA creates a more complex agent that brings to life the rich possibilities for AI systems to enable new and engaging avenues for teaching and learning.
Interested in some scientific modeling for beginners? Register at Ask Jill on Slack to get started learning how to use the VERA ecological modeling platform or watch the “Kudzu Killer” video series for an introduction to VERA.