Tech advances transform college education

April 11, 2013

Technology has gained prominence in schools. Grants for single parents and college scholarships are the entryway for many to college. Once there, new students can see how technology has made its mark on higher education. Though some innovations may seem foreign to those getting started at school, such advances - from emerging artificial intelligence to digital research - may be beneficial.

Technology is a time-saver
According to the New York Times, a new test-grading device gives students instantaneous feedback to essay-based exams. Furthermore, once getting these grades back, students have the option of re-writing the test if they are not satisfied with their marks.

The device is a component of EdX, which is a non-profit mission initiated by Harvard and M.I.T. offering large online classes. Though EdX mainly focuses on free online courses, according to the Times, this new grading technology will be available for all schools to use, specifically those offering online courses. Such technology may quickly spread in popularity, as a 2011 Sloan Consortium Survey showed that 65 percent of higher education schools see online learning as a significant part of their future strategies. Using the EdX device may further innovate this strategy.

The software is a type of artificial intelligence that acts as a teacher evaluating short answers and essays. According to the Times, a human must grade the first 100 pieces of writing, through which the device trains itself to do the same. Once it knows what an answer should be, it can assess essays almost immediately.

Though many object to a machine evaluating written tests, the system is fast. This speed may be helpful to students, especially those hoping to manage their time through quick, condensed courses.

"Students are telling us they learn much better with instant feedback," said Anant Agarwal, Ph.D., electrical engineer, and president of EdX, as quoted by the source.

Tech advances also widen accessibility
In addition to saving time, technological advances in higher education can also provide greater accessibility. Inside Higher Ed recently noted that a large online scholarly database could be more easily accessible than the traditional library.

The source notes that students and professors not only turn to scholarly resources to do research, but they also use search engines such as Google to search for information. Due to the wealth of scholarly material online, individuals conducting research often can simply hop on the internet and type a few keywords into a search engine to find what they need. This development, like A.I. grading, is helping to make education more efficient, especially for those who can't regularly spend time on-campus.

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