Distance Learning

Texas A&M Prof Develops AI for Adaptive Online Learning

A professor at Texas A&M University is developing artificial intelligence (AI) technology for creating adaptive online courses.

Noboru Matsuda, an associate professor of cyber STEM education in the Department of Teaching, Learning and Culture at Texas A&M is currently the principal investigator on three related research projects funded by National Science Foundation grants. In September 2016, Matsuda received his latest grant for a project that aims to develop a browser-based development environment to let teachers author their own adaptive online courses without specialized training. The technology will also enable researchers to gather data about how students learn from adaptive online courses.

The project is rooted in Matsuda's previous research, which studied what happens when middle school students are asked to teach a computer how to solve a computer equation. "At the beginning, they don't know how to solve equations and teach the agent very incorrectly," said Matsuda in a Texas A&M news story. He found that the students learned from teaching computers. "Learning how to solve equations by teaching is an interesting phenomenon, but the data clearly shows students actually learn by teaching."

Matsuda's proposed cyber learning platform for adaptive online courses will support the creation of cognitive tutors — intelligent tutoring systems that provide feedback to students as they solve problems — so teachers and developers can integrate those cognitive tutors into online courses. "You have the interface you made, you already told the computer how to solve it and now the computer can use that same interface to teach students how to solve problems," Matsuda said.

Within five years, Matsuda said he hopes to develop an adaptive online course to help high school math students prepare for the SAT.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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