Research Hub > Generative AI Gets Dangerously Smart for Education
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Generative AI Gets Dangerously Smart for Education

How AI is taking root in schools and higher ed institutions.

Businesses and organizations are jumping to adopt AI technology to boost productivity and gain a competitive edge as fast as they can. But the advantages of using AI in schools is not so clear-cut for educational institutions.

Advancements in and the rapid adoption of AI tools is causing disruption in the classroom and challenging education norms. But not just in a let-me-get-ChatGPT-to-do-my-homework kind of way. What we are encountering is that some institutions are running into the AI fray and looking at how they can embrace it, while others are on red alert trying to manage the inevitable challenges.

Higher education, for instance, is not just trying to solve for students using AI tools to do their work for them. They’re also asking: How do we capitalize on AI? How do we use it to increase enrollment? K-12, on the other hand, has generally been more reactionary, mainly trying to answer the question: How do we prevent cheating? Regardless of where educational institutions fall on the spectrum of embracing AI, the reality is that AI adoption is likely imminent.

Game-Changing Education Enhancement with AI

In his TED Talk, “How AI Could Save (Not Destroy) Education,” Sal Khan, the founder and CEO of Khan Academy, discusses why we should be fully embracing AI in education, with the right “guardrails” in place. Kahn eases fears around AI in education and speaks to why it’s a game changer.

Khan touts a number of benefits and educational enhancements that can only be gained by leveraging generative AI, including the following:  

  • AI tutors: AI can be trained to understand the way a student is learning and tailor education to an individual learner. These tutors help students find the answers, they don’t do the work for them.
  • Exchange learning: AI can collaborate with students. The exchange results in students learning alongside AI (gamification can be applied here).
  • Coaching: AI can provide learners with live feedback, fostering student engagement and better self-directed learning.
  • Curriculum writing: Teachers can leverage AI to write curriculum, saving a significant amount of time that can be redirected back to the students.

These capabilities are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the transformative potential of generative AI to revolutionize the way education is delivered and experienced with the goal of improving student success rates.

Some even believe AI could be the great equalizer to level the playing field where significant disadvantages and inequality persist in our public education system. The proliferation of the internet and technology drove the development of programs that enabled students to take home tablets so they could access the internet. AI will give us the ability to go beyond that and change student learning circumstances. It will also enable us to change the nature of instruction specific to the needs of the learner.

AI Can Give Higher Education a Competitive Advantage

But it’s not just the opportunity to transform how we deliver education that AI holds; it also holds all the stakes for competitive advantage.

Higher education was in a disrupted state before the COVID-19 pandemic  due in large part to rising tuition costs and students seeking out alternatives to traditional education. Technology was becoming a big differentiator with large universities, and senior administrators started thinking about how they could leverage AI to nuance their programs and offerings for competitive purposes. The fact that the students themselves were adopting and deploying AI tools at such a fast pace was even more reason.

Hypothetically, if an institution created a model where students had a wealth of AI enabled resources at their fingertips that could almost guarantee their success, that would be some advantage.

Forward-thinking institutions are seizing the present AI landscape as a gateway to reshape their educational paradigm now, after the pandemic accelerated even more disruption.

It’s not merely about streamlining processes; it’s a visionary quest to reinvent the entire business model. The question on their minds is bold and ambitious: How can we truly own the AI experience in education, setting a new standard, gaining a competitive edge, empowering our students and positioning ourselves as pioneers for the next generation?

Innovative universities recognize that AI is more than a tool; it’s a catalyst for transformation on all fronts. By leveraging data lakes to create highly trained, customized generative AI models and embracing other cutting-edge technologies, universities can transcend traditional boundaries and provide an innovative educational experience.

By weaving AI seamlessly into the fabric of their educational ecosystem, they seek to unlock unprecedented opportunities for their students, faculty, and staff. From personalized learning paths to AI-driven administrative efficiency, these institutions aspire to create an educational journey like never before. AI's power to tailor educational experiences, anticipate student needs, and empower educators with data-driven insights serves as their guiding compass.

For modern universities, the goal is clear: to lead the charge in revolutionizing education through AI, setting a new bar of excellence that defines the future of learning. But there are barriers to overcome in making that dream a reality for many universities, namely navigating the various technologies quickly coming to market.

Overcoming AI Vendor Overload

The fast-paced development of AI technologies has led to an influx of vendors offering diverse solutions. Navigating this vendor overload can be daunting for institutions seeking the most suitable AI solutions for their specific needs. It’s also incredibly difficult for some institutions to engage with some of the major solution providers like Microsoft or Google.

Technology integrators like CDW can play a pivotal role in helping institutions navigate the vendor landscape. The partner relationships and insights gained from thousands of solution deployments puts them in a unique position to demystify vendor solutions and help institutions identify the right ones that will best fulfill their desired outcomes.

How can integrators like CDW help?

  • They have increasingly deep expertise in emerging technologies like AI, and can help institutions assess readiness gaps, build technology infrastructure and develop skills and training programs. With holistic services across the AI lifecycle, integrators can accelerate adoption.
  • Cost and skills gaps are top barriers to AI adoption in education. Technology integrators can provide access to affordable AI solutions with scale tailored to education needs. Their technology specialists can upskill institutional staff on maximizing AI tools.
  • Data strategy and readiness are big challenges for institutions looking to harness AI. Integrators can conduct data readiness assessments and help build the integrations, quality control, governance and accessibility needed for reliable model training.
  • They understand the focus on improving student outcomes and access in education. They can help institutions get the most out of AI-enabled solutions like inclusive classrooms, personalized learning and next-gen virtual instruction.

With expertise across all aspects of AI strategy, planning and implementation, CDW is an ideal partner that can enable institutions to realize the transformative potential of AI in learning, operations and competitiveness across the institution.

Rich Pushard

Product Portfolio Manager
Rich Pushard serves as Product Portfolio Manager at CDW for the Higher Ed. vertical, applying his background in technology and innovation to higher education. With experience in leading organizations within Higher Ed, Rich's current role involves developing cutting-edge educational solutions tailored to the future needs of students and institutions.