University students can expect to get faster and more in-depth study help thanks to a new 5-year, $1 million investment in data-driven research and development delivered by CSIRO’s Data61, the digital specialist arm of the national science agency, for Australian founded online study support service, Studiosity.
The partnership with CSIRO’s Data61 will see Studiosity invest over $1 million during the initial period in new research and projects, to deliver world-first capability that amplifies their sophisticated and rigorous human support with artificial intelligence, with a focus on natural language processing and deep learning.
“A critical aspect of a 24/7 student support service is the human connection, as students become more confident and satisfied when connecting in real time with a person who knows that subject area. Natural language processing, as part of AI, is also evolving incredibly quickly and I believe an enormous opportunity exists to combine the two to provide enhanced insights for educators and a continuously improving student experience” says Prof Chris Tisdell of UNSW, a member of Studiosity’s Academic Advisory Board.
Michael Larsen, Studiosity CEO says, “The investment in this series of AI projects will break new ground to reveal valuable insights around referencing, spelling, grammar and readability, to augment the human conversation, to take it to an even more personalised, exciting place every time. Not least of all, it helps the student faster, to get them back on their feet in less time or helps them escalate to a next level of support from university staff and services.”
Potential projects being explored include ‘readability’ scores for students’ writing drafts, ‘learning gain’ scores that measure progression, mental health early warning identification measures, and referencing and academic honesty support. As a result, students’ study-help conversations with real, human staff from Studiosity are expected to become even more relevant, personalised and timely support interventions.
Studiosity’s online study support service is utilised by most Australian universities and a growing number in New Zealand, the UK and Ireland. The service is available to over 1.7 million students 24/7 who can access personalised study help from real subject-area specialists located in Australia, NZ, Canada, South Africa and the UK.
Prof Judyth Sachs, Studiosity’s Chief Academic Officer comments, “The vast majority of universities worldwide are already very focused on delivering enhanced experiences and value to students, particularly those for whom English is an additional language. Studiosity has always worked very closely with our partners in the education sector, and they expect this kind of ongoing innovation from us to keep pace with rapidly evolving student needs.”
“Imagine knowing the top 50 problems Engineering students have in their writing and study, and anticipating that. Alternatively, what are the mental health challenges faced by nursing students, nationally or at a faculty level? At an institutional level can a language tool pick up on known patterns in word choice to detect and act on anxiety, for example?”
“Crucially for the sector, this impending combination of AI and personal, real-life study help will also contribute to the current efforts to promote academic honesty with early detection and support, rather than plagiarism policy based solely on fear and punishment.”
Dr Cecile Paris, Data61’s Chief Data Scientist, says, “There is a clear need to continually improve university student wellbeing - both for students as well as in the national economic and social interest. Natural language processing offers increasingly valuable insights where there is the available scale and potential to move the needle on societal change.”
Michael Larsen says, “CSIRO were an ideal choice of partner due to the impressive AI capabilities within the Data61 team and their strong partnerships with 30 Australian universities, through their University Collaboration Agreement (DUCA). As we also work with the majority of Australian universities, the benefits of this initiative will flow directly to our shared stakeholders and their students.”
“We believe it will also ensure our university partners continue to remain destinations of choice in the increasingly competitive environment of the international student market.”
CSIRO's data and digital specialist data sciences arm, Data61, is at the forefront of data and digital in solving our greatest data-driven challenges today.