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Webinar Recap: How AI Empowers Personalized Learning


Providing students with more personalized learning has been a goal of university leaders for years. Experienced higher education professionals understand that each learner brings a unique blend of experiences and expectations to the desk and can therefore benefit from multiple methods of consuming course content.

In the past, educators have tried to enlist learning management systems to develop various learning paths. The process often proved to be cumbersome and defeating for instructors. Yet the growth of artificial intelligence has changed things, said Scott Ready, a higher education and accessibility expert of more than 30 years.

A Live Discussion on Video

Ready, Verbit’s Accessibility Evangelist, explored this idea during Verbit’s live webinar with Rob Lipps, EVP of Mediasite. The discussion focused on how artificial intelligence is being implemented to both solve accessibility challenges and account for key changes in media consumption, which have influenced student’s classroom expectations.

Lipps spoke on how today’s students expect almost everything to be video-focused.

“60 percent of all network traffic on the Internet is video, and in just two years, it’s going to be 80 percent. It’s phenomenal,” he said.

Universities are implementing more digital and video components in the classroom as a result.

“The creation of content in higher education is exploding,” Lipps said. “We see universities creating [up to] 70,000 hours of video a year from classrooms, not just from desktops and phones, but actually recording of lectures and publishing. “We’re talking about learners that have never known a world where they didn’t have video for everything, and it can be a bit disruptive to them to show up in an educational setting and not have access to the video that they’re accustomed to through the rest of their lives.”

This video-first mentality can present an interesting challenge for universities trying to create strong video content and meet the expectations of students.

The Netflix Mentality

Today’s students want video resources, but they also don’t want to spend time searching for them. They want systems to be advanced enough to suggest items for them, Lipps said.

“When we’re talking about student experiences and taking preferences into account, one thing that we notice is that students are used to companies knowing an awful lot about them,” Lipps said. “They’re used to Netflix knowing a lot about them… Netflix tends to know what they’re looking for before they look for it. I think they want that experience also in education.”

Keeping up with that expectation can be difficult. AI tools and their accompanying data present huge opportunities to customize learning experiences. AI engines present the ability to make search easier and make suggestions possible.

Universities are spending significant amounts of time and money to create video content, but are likely missing out when not reviewing data to ensure that learners are engaging, comprehending and retaining it.

Using Data to Inform the Learning Experience

Data can help to inform the quality of the learning experience, especially when it comes to video, Lipps said.

University leaders can look at analytics like time spent with a video or simply student performance improvement metrics. They can also look at how the relationships between professors and students or students and their peers are impacted to see if video improves communication and engagement.

When considering data, it’s also interesting to note that regardless of disability, most video consumers are using captions rather than listening to video out loud. 85 percent of video content on Facebook alone was consumed silently with captions, Ready noted.

Lipps refers to this as data enrichment.

“I don’t always turn captions on in a video that I’m watching, but if they’re on, I almost never turn them off because I actually read faster than I listen… I actually find myself wishing that the video moved a little faster when the captions are on because I’m comprehending quicker what’s actually being said,” Lipps added.

Providing these enriching technologies, including AI, to offer all students live captions during lectures can have a huge impact on the quality of the video experience you’re delivering to them.

“We tend to talk a lot about accessibility [regarding captions and AI uses]…and that certainly is a driving factor, but the needs of the disabled community can have a tremendous impact, positive impact on all learners of all abilities. I think these are convergent initiatives,” Lipps said.

AI’s Impact on Academic Video

Lipps also provided viewers with insights from a recent survey Mediasite conducted with University Business where university leaders were polled on their expectations of AI. Their top two reasons for considering AI technologies were to aid in their accessibility compliance initiatives and create more personalized content delivery.

“The more video you create, the more that accessibility need blooms. It becomes an interesting opportunity to help these solutions come together and not just help students with disabilities, but all student learners,” Lipps said.

The partnership between Verbit and Mediasite is one example of driving this dual use case forward.

“When we look at these research studies, they all point to [the fact that] student performance improves, content material is reinforced, focus is maintained, and comprehension is enhanced by having captions added to video. It’s not just for the deaf and hard of hearing any longer. It really is something that we are all consuming,” Ready said.

Yet while captions are helpful for all, it’s crucial that they effectively serve the needs of the students who rely on them. It’s therefore best practice to select an AI-based solution that ensures accurate captions are being placed on your videos to guarantee student success and compliance.

“Our automatic speech recognition engine was developed within Verbit, because we couldn’t find one commercially provided that was accurate enough,” Ready said.

Verbit’s automatic speech recognition engine is fueled by AI, so that it becomes smarter with each use, but also human intelligence with the use of professional transcribers and editors to fact check the technology to ensure video viewers receive fully accurate captions and transcriptions.

Additional Practices for Crafting Engaging Video

When considering other best video practices, Lipps said it’s simple – just start recording.

“Just hit record. You can wait for a lot of things to be perfect – perfect lighting, perfect automation, lots of things, but I think at the end of the day, if you, again, go back to personas and the expectation of the viewer, they’re used to watching pretty bad videos on YouTube every day. So the expectation that the lighting is going to be perfect in a classroom is pretty low. I think they would rather have the content,” he said.

Lipps and Ready agreed that individuals creating video content should be more cautious though when it comes to the quality of the audio. Poor audio quality can have a negative impact on the ability to create a searchable, organizable, compliant video at the end on the day, they said.

As a final takeaway, the webinar dialogue turned to the importance of collaboration in fueling video initiatives that are effective, engaging and compliant.

Approach Video Collaboratively with Peers

Video is being used in all departments throughout the institution. Formerly, video technology or university video initiatives were run by academic technologists with an accessibility team at the table to ensure compliance. Scott and Lipps encouraged viewers to actively partner across all departments when considering the effective implementation of video.

“Partnering early [and looking] at it from not just the vantage point of the disabled community, but what the disabled community actually has in common with the broader community will create a much more cohesive and well-delivered strategy,” Ready said.

Lipps added that he has found members of the higher education community to be some of the greatest sources of knowledge and collaborators for their willingness to openly share their findings with peers.

“Higher education shares knowledge across the board with their peers better than any space I’ve ever worked in,” he said. “There is so much expertise out there in these communities of people that have gone before you. If you’re not creating a lot of video and you want to, talk to your peers. Odds are you know somebody that is.”

You can watch the full webinar on-demand now.

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AI in the Courts: The Jury Is Out

A session on the role of emerging technologies in the courtroom was part of last month’s New York State Bar Association Annual Meeting in New York City.

“Emerging Technologies in Litigation” included a panel of local and federal judges as well as an e-discovery researcher and emerging technology attorney. The group discussed the use of artificial intelligence in the courtroom.

The session addressed the role that AI could play in judicial decision making, where algorithms potentially can predict behavior and outcomes resulting from different legal strategies. The rationale is that law is based on precedent — if a case is similar to past cases, then the results shouldn’t be all too surprising.

However, given the rise of deepfakes — and the possibility that AI in effect could manufacture evidence — some argued that the technology should be excluded from court proceedings.

Despite such concerns, the global “legaltech” market for AI is expected to grow in the coming years, driven by the trend in major law firms to adopt various legaltech solutions that aim to reduce turnaround time for some legal cases.

AI is used to help with document management systems, e-discovery, e-billing, contract management, and even practice and case management.

AI already has been employed at a lower level in the Los Angeles Superior Court to handle seemingly mundane traffic citations. Visitors to the court’s website can interact with Gina, an AI-powered online avatar, to pay a traffic ticket, register for traffic school, or schedule a court date.

Since being installed in 2016, Gina — which is part of an effort by the LA Superior Court to reduce the backlog of cases — has had more than 200,000 interactions a year, and has reduced traffic court wait times dramatically.

One Step Closer to PreCrime

AI’s predictive algorithms can be used by police departments to strategize about where to send patrols, and facial recognition systems can be used to help identify suspects.

Combined, these approaches sound eerily similar to the Philip K. Dick short story, “The Minority Report,” which became the basis of the Steven Spielberg-directed film Minority Report, in which the police department’s PreCrime unit apprehends criminals based on foreknowledge of criminal activity.

“Courts currently are using AI algorithms to determine the defendant’s ‘risk,’ which can range from the probability that the defendant will commit another crime to whether or not they will appear for their next court date for bail, sentencing and parole decisions,” explained technology inventor/consultant Lon Safko.

Often AI can be wrong — not only in determining where officers should patrol, but also in recommending how criminals should be sentenced. Here is where the Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions comes into play. It compares defendant answers to questions as well as personal factors against a nationwide data group and assigns a score, which is used to determine sentencing.

“Recently in Wisconsin, a defendant was found guilty for his participation in a drive-by shooting,” Safko told TechNewsWorld.

“While being booked, the suspect answered several questions that were entered into the AI system COMPAS,” he continued. “The judge gave this defendant a long sentence partially because he was labeled ‘high risk’ by this assessment tool.”

AI in the Courts

At the present time it isn’t clear how widespread the use of AI in the courts will be — in part because the courts at all levels have been quite slow to embrace any new technology. This could be changing, however, as AI can help streamline the courts in ways that could benefit all parties.

“We believe the courts are leading digital transformation in the market, and approximately 90 percent of courts have evolved from traditional court reporting to professional digital court reporting,” said Jacques Botbol, vice president of marketing at software firm Verbit.

“Certain applications of AI are often adopted faster than others — particularly those surrounding the automation of routine tasks and workflows,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“It’s interesting to note that AI is also being utilized through more complex applications, such as utilizing AI to make decisions regarding cases,” added Botbol. “These use cases will be adopted more slowly as there are significant concerns about due process, biases, etc.”

AI Court Reporting

Supporters of AI technology in the courts point to how it can help court reporters do their job better.

“Today, most court reporting firms reject work since they don’t have the necessary workforce to handle it all,” explained Botbol. “AI is helping to fill the gaps that the retiring court reporters and the legacy court reporter market have left,” he noted.

At the same time, “lawyers want to receive materials quickly, and today depositions are getting delayed because of the shortage in the market — with some areas reaching more than 35 percent,” Botbol added.

AI, along with automatic speech recognition (ASR), allows for proceedings to be recorded and processed in a timelier manner.

“There is a backlog of cases that need to be transcribed, yet with AI-based ASR tools these transcripts can be processed at faster turnaround times,” said Botbol. “Instead of relying on court transcriptionists, the courts have multiple court reporting agencies that they can assign the work out to in order to clear their backlog and work more efficiently.”

Judge and/or Jury

No one is expecting that AI will fill the role of judge or jury — at least not in the legal system of the United States. However, AI could help ensure that the accused in criminal cases truly are granted the right to a speedy trial, while also addressing the backlogs in the civil courts.

“In the future, AI will not only serve as an add-on, but will also help to streamline trials by removing delays, which will lead to smarter and faster decisions being made,” said Tony Sirna, legal specialist at Verbit.

“Applications of AI are being studied and piloted for a number of use cases,” he told TechNewsWorld.

These include not only sentencing and risk assessment such as COMPAS, but also settlement of disputes.

“Online Dispute Resolution is another aspect where we may see automated adjudication of small civil cases,” noted Sirna.

AI could help the parties reach an equitable settlement in civil cases.

“Mining extensive amounts of related court cases and decisions will come into play, with parties submitting their cases and using AI combined with data mining for settlement options or fair adjudication,” noted Sirna.

AI Rights

Another consideration that likely will come up is how AI will be treated by the courts. Can AI be an “expert witness,” for example? If so, how will AI need to be treated by the courts? Will AI need to be granted some form of rights?

“AI likely won’t need ‘rights,’ but it will need control, and a team that manages the innovation in each court,” said Sirna.

“The aspect of ‘rights’ related to AI poses interesting legal questions: Who is responsible for the AI? Is the AI algorithm fair or biased? At what point does the AI make its own decisions? Who is liable for results or decisions rendered by algorithms — the user, the designer, or the court?” pondered Sirna.

However, many of these questions likely won’t need to be addressed anytime soon — nor will AI have the power to pass judgment.

“Our judicial system is by no means ‘early adopters,’ but for good cause,” said Safko.

“Rendering a just verdict and sentence is paramount, and we have to be sure that the defendants and plaintiffs are properly represented and that their information is protected,” he said. “This is why doctors insist on still using fax machines over email, which can easily be hacked.”

Automated Recommendations

AI could have a place in the courtroom, but perhaps only to aid the human lawyers, judge, court reporters and jury. AI shouldn’t replace any of those humans, but aid them in doing their job.

“Once a technology has proven itself to be reliable and show a time or cost savings, it has been and will be adopted,” suggested Safko.

“AI is not a perfect science — it is still programmed by humans, and not every set of data perfectly matches the predetermined rules programmed into the application,” he warned.

However, with the increasing pressure on court dockets, any time or cost saving measures need to be considered. It is important too, to consider how AI then could affect people’s lives.

“Every automated recommendation should be reviewed by a qualified judge to verify the outcome. Then their recommendation needs to be fed back into that system to allow it to become more proficient at rendering appropriate decisions,” said Safko.

“We can’t risk peoples’ lives on automated apps that save money,” he noted.

“Even the Chief Justice of our Supreme Court, John Roberts, is concerned about how AI is affecting the U.S. legal system,” Safko explained. “When asked about AI in our legal system, he said ‘it’s a day that’s here, and it’s putting a significant strain on how the judiciary goes about doing things.'”

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