Dr. Curtis Charles, Microsoft’s Data Scientist, delivered a vision for the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) enabled by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its implications for Higher Education during the 2019 DLI Symposium. On March 28, 2019, Times Higher Education, in collaboration with Microsoft, released survey results associated with university leaders’ and technology experts’ predictions on the impact of 4IR on higher education. Their findings are summarized in the chart below. Spoiler alert: The researchers found that “fears of robots lecturing to ever-smaller cohorts of  students do not compute”.

Many knowledge nuggets were offered in this article, but the one that struck me the most was: “Last year, for instance, Darpa, the US government’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, pledged $2 billion to develop next-generation AI systems capable of “contextual reasoning”. In my opinion, the amount of this pledge demonstrates the promise of AI and acknowledges one of the key challenges/opportunities to advancing AI, contextual reasoning. Today, AI-enabled adaptive learning and writing evaluation and assessment systems, for example, play at the lower learning objectives/assessment level (Bloom’s Taxonomy) for mastery. In short, if DARPA is successful, the ability for AI-enabled learning systems to reason within context will create greater efficiency and effectiveness of these systems to guide deeper learning and assessment frameworks.

Thanks to our partners at Microsoft for sharing this report with the UNC digital learning community!

-John