Exploring the use of Smart Assistants with students as a means to personalizing their study according to their needs and providing help and support.
With students having access and using smart devices in greater numbers than ever before, the availability of smart AI assistants to help them with tasks such as administration and enquiries has become a serious option for when considering how to aid students in their studies. Through the use of these assistants to play media, search the net, and perform general daily tasks like make shopping lists, students are becoming more adept at using and benefitting from the assistance of a smart assistant.
If we were able to apply a similar level of assistance to their study sessions, for example for the use of finding and evaluating information, as well as performing generic tasks like note-taking and setting up conference calls with fellow students, we could help students in gaining back valuable time. If the smart AIs were able to create automated study sessions, or suggest recommendations on when to study in a week, that would also be a positive contributing factor.
In addition to increasing the available time a student has, there is also a question on whether the use of a smart AI could be beneficial in terms of wellbeing. Smart AIs gain valuable insight into a student's lifestyle and schedule and are well-placed to know if there are particular issues that are hindering them. If we could use such knowledge to make positive interventions, prompting a student to get in touch with a tutor (via the device or otherwise), or even to notify a tutor about concerning patterns, this might be a useful assistive technology to support our students better. This clearly depends on the permission of and authorisation by the student before taking place, as the data and information would be sensitive and personal.
There is also a potential for the smart assistant to provide simple tasks, such as setting up an automated study mode to aid learning. Through use of a pre-set routine, the smart assistant could dim lighting, put quiet background music on, turn on 'Do Not Disturb' on the devices, set up a TV or smart screen for study, and even control blinds. These sorts of routines can be made by the student in advance, but the University could even come up with preset options to deliver to students' devices. Students could even make and share their own routines amongst the student community to help each other out.
There is clearly a need for guidance and supporting materials in order to achieve any of the above, so one of the elements of this strand will be to come up with such literature in order to provide the necessary information and to get things started. It may also involve working with tutors and ALs to test and develop the various options, and could involve working with the student union and wellbeing practitioners to help create suitable and sustainable routines. There are also clearly issues around privacy and data protection here, so we will be exploring these as part of the research.
Some potential benefits could include:
Work on this strand is scheduled to begin in May. Stay tuned here for regular updates.
The Smart Tech project was born out of the need to understand more fully the potential benefits of smart device usage on student success and to assess whether there are changes that we can make to the production and delivery of learning materials to assist in this aim.Discover more about the project