The University of 2050/Personalizing Curricula

Introduction edit

Variations in the modern higher education system reflect the diversity of individuals and their belief systems along with career and industry demands. Universities of 2050 will remain unique, but just as the "Common Core" is widespread in 2023, more flexible curricula will enhance higher education across the board. Higher education institutions seek to produce well-rounded students who will succeed in competitive and dynamic environments -- a selfless mission underscored by the goal of improving university reputations. Curriculum changes cannot jeopardize these goals, so social developments will be as vital in building the new educational landscape as technological developments. "Personalizing Curricula" encompasses adapting core curricula, transitioning from "majors" to "focus areas", prioritizing skills-based education, tailoring course difficulty and pace via asynchronous study, and incorporating new tools such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence (AI) alongside traditional teaching and content delivery techniques. This chapter will focus on the role of AI in personalizing curricula, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the current system and social barriers to the implementation of new technology.

Historical Context edit

Variety Among Curricula edit

Unlike K-12 schools whose graduation and curriculum requirements are largely dictated by state governments, university deans and faculty shape higher education with external pressure from students, alumni, accreditation boards, and industry professionals. In 2023, the University of Pennsylvania's College of Arts and Sciences serves as a case study for core-curriculum-based programs, guided by the belief that degree requirements are not synonymous with an excellent education. Students in the college must take courses in Society, History & Tradition, Arts & Letters, Humanities & Social Sciences, The Living World, The Physical World, and Natural Science Across Disciplines in addition to their specialized major courses.[1] Brown University's Open Curriculum takes a different approach to achieving excellence. In 1966, Elliot Maxwell and Ira Magaziner formed the Group Independent Study Project (GISP) with 25 students and faculty members to reimagine Brown's curriculum. They valued student needs above all else, suggesting complete elimination of distribution requirements and a Satisfactory/No Credit option for all courses. A Brown University degree in 2023 consists of at least 30 courses, the fulfillment of requirements for at least 1 concentration, and demonstrated writing competence. [2] Students are free to engage with topics of interest across disciplines or specialize in a particular area. Despite clear differences, Brown University and the University of Pennsylvania share the goal of producing future leaders with expertise in one or more subjects and exposure to a variety of others.

The Introduction of AI edit

Large language models (LLMs) are AI programs trained to recognize and generate text, and LLM products have significant potential to improve the efficiency of teaching and learning new material. ChatGPT, released in November 2022, sparked a boom in Chatbots that predated relevant legislation and technological evaluation capabilities. Universities are struggling to address student use of such programs in completing coursework, and the university of the future must decide not whether, but how to embrace LLMs in evaluating student performance. How can students be taught to use LLMs as a tool, without undermining their ability to grasp the basics of a new skill or concept? The participants who build curricula today will spend time interacting with LLMs and creating policies surrounding their use, eventually harnessing AI to personalize the higher education experience. Industry representatives will influence the transition, as workplaces have already begun to embrace AI tools. Building on Brown University's Open Curriculum, chatbots will guide students through course selection, aid students in understanding their individual learning styles, provide personalized feedback on assignments, and allow teachers to devote class time to collaborative, interactive work that is uniquely human-centric.

The Future of Education edit

How Artificial Intelligence (AI) Will Shape the Future edit

Artificial Intelligence is poised to revolutionize the basis of education, shaping a future where personalized and adaptive learning experiences are the norm. Offering solutions that promise a new era of innovation and efficiency, AI is reshaping the delivery, experience, and assessment of education in universities. Its potential lies in tailoring educational content and pace to individual needs and preferences through algorithms, enabling a more customized learning approach. Personalized learning paths will ensure that each student receives an education uniquely tailored to their specific needs. AI will serve not only as a valuable tool for crafting personalized learning paths based on preferences but also for identifying areas where additional support is needed. AI algorithms can analyze vast amounts of data, providing insights into an individual's performance to shape learning paths that foster a deeper understanding of class material. By continuously collecting and processing student performance data, educators gain valuable knowledge to determine the pace, difficulty, and content according to each student's needs. This approach ensures a more effective and engaging learning environment that appropriately challenges students to prevent boredom and frustration.

AI's impact extends beyond student experience's to enhance educators' roles as well. By automating administrative tasks like grading and attendance tracking, AI gives educators more time to encourage creativity, foster critical thinking, and focus on guiding students to the utmost potential. Additionally AI provides educators with simulations driven by AI, creating interactive learning environments through real-world scenarios. Educators can use these simulations to create a deeper understanding of concepts by applying classroom-taught principles to real-life situations, fostering the development of problem-solving skills. The integration of AI in real-world simulations involves adjusting scenarios according to a student's responses, ensuring that each individual encounters personalized challenges tailored to their unique skills.

As artificial intelligence continues to advance, it has the potential to foster educational equality, providing high-quality learning experiences to global and diverse student populations. This progress maximizes the benefits of technology, shaping the future of education as a harmonious blend of human expertise, AI, and focus-area learning.

Ethical Considerations edit

The responsible use of AI in education is crucial for maintaining trust and safeguarding student information, considering the genuine risks individuals may unknowingly face. [3] The data used to train algorithms poses a potential risk due to outdated information, leading to algorithmic bias and discrimination that could reinforce existing educational inequalities. Achieving a system without algorithmic bias requires collaboration of the entire university community, including educators, students, and administration. Ethical considerations also extend to matters of academic integrity. The public availability to AI resources, such as ChatGPT, has led to instances where students utilized these tools to complete assignments or essays, raising concerns among professors. Introducing an approach that encourages responsible use of AI while upholding principles of authenticity is crucial to the preservation of academic integrity. As universities embrace the opportunities presented by AI, it becomes imperative to address the ethical challenges. This ensures that the benefits of AI are utilized responsibly, shaping a future in which education is characterized not only by intelligence but also inclusivity and ethical principles.

Enduring Principles in Higher Education edit

Although the University of 2050 promises many changes and advances towards optimal success of an individual during their University years, there are some aspects of the traditional learning experience that will remain present in the University of 2050. For instance, although "Personalized Curricula" will transition from the "core curriculum" and "majors", to "focus areas" and skill-based education, humanities are indispensable for a well rounded education in any individual. Humanities play a role in shaping daily life by teaching lessons in thinking and communication skills, understanding historical context, and gain a deeper appreciation for culture, language and art.[4] These are all basic, useful skills that humans need to socialize with others and live a fulfilling life.

In terms of differences within classes and the way they are taught, many of the key elements that have been implemented for many decades now will still continue to prevail in the University of 2050. For instance, group interaction, be it through group work, projects, presentations, etc. will still encompass a big part of the primarily skill-based education that will be implemented by 2050. Working in groups, specifically social interactions gives you some of the necessary social skills that not even humanities can give you. Simple tasks such as listening to other people's perspectives and cooperating for a shared goal helps students become active participants in their learning, develop multiple skills such as problem-solving, negotiation, conflict resolution, leadership, critical thinking, and time management.[5] It also acknowledges and uses the student's strengths and expertise to help refine their own ideas and share these ideas with their peers.

While it is true that AI, such as Chatbots and LLMs will have personalized higher education to optimize the education experience, there are other aspects of the University of 2023 that will not have changed by 2050. Some believe that by this year, the need for exams and graded assignments will have ceased to exist, due to the very automated way AI functions, and how everything will be very personalized to the individual's career path and goals. However, it will still be pertinent to have milestones to show expertise in the material and show the progress on said career path. They might not look like the traditional exams or midterm exams that you see in most curriculums in 2023, but due to the rapid and exponential growth AI is having currently, it is safe to assume that AI will be able to provide personalized feedback with regards to a student's learning styles, strengths and weaknesses to optimize the way in which students are able to apply concepts and knowledge in the real world. One might think, but if AI is automating this personalized feedback, won't other class elements such as lectures become automated, making a professor-led classroom obsolete? The short answer is no. While AI has been proven very convenient to provide feedback and clarify concepts, professors play a key role in students' success in classes. For instance, in a study by the Azusa Pacific University in 2022, students are more likely to perform well in classes when there is a shared connection with the instructor since there is a sense of mentorship and community that professors foster that AI will never achieve[6]. Even more so, in the University of 2050, professors will be able to dedicate more time to students' and their tailored needs, since AI will be able to provide personalized feedback that used to take up most professors' time.

References edit

  1. "The Purpose of the Curriculum | College of Arts & Sciences - University of Pennsylvania". Retrieved 2023-12-04.
  2. "History". Brown University. Retrieved 2023-12-04.
  3. Kamalov, Firuz; Santandreu Calonge, David; Gurrib, Ikhlaas (16 August 2023). "New Era of Artificial Intelligence in Education: Towards a Sustainable Multifaceted Revolution". MDPI.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. "Why Are the Humanities Important? | Hilbert College Global Campus". Retrieved 2023-12-05.
  5. "Group Work | UNSW Teaching Staff Gateway". Retrieved 2023-12-05.
  6. "The Importance of Professor and Student Connection". Retrieved 2023-12-05.