The machines are rising. Soon they will be sophisticated enough to fill certain faculty roles at traditional universities. But to make this revolution work for students, academic leaders at those traditional institutions will need to broker a peace between artificially intelligent teaching programs and their human counterparts, according to a new report written by the former presidents of two prominent traditional universities on behalf of the nonprofit Ithaka S+R.
Online education has enabled many colleges to transition into the
prevailing modern medium while adding new sources of revenue in times of
scarcity, according to the Ithaka report. However, these innovative
colleges have shown less interest in using the novel medium to curb
tuition charges and measure learning outcomes.
The report, called "Barriers to Adoption of Online Learning Systems
in U.S. Higher Education," was co-written by Lawrence S. Bacow and
William G. Bowen, the former presidents of Tufts and Princeton
Universities, respectively, along with several Ithaka analysts. It was
bankrolled by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The report
contained little advocacy one way or another; rather, the authors
appeared to strive for a dispassionate analysis driven by a general
sense that the rise of machine learning is inevitable and universities
should be prepared. Their findings were based on interviews with senior
administrators at 25 public and private, four-year and two-year
colleges, including “deep dive” analyses at five of them.
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