Professor Surprises Students With AI Teacher Assistant

An anonymous reader writes:

Jill Watson is an artificial intelligence bot, it is also Ashok Goel’s teaching assistant. Ashok Goel, a computer science professor at Georgia Tech, hired Jill Watson to answer questions online for his students so that his teaching staff wasn’t so overworked. On average, Goel and his staff receive more than 10,000 questions from students online each semester. So he decided to use IBM Watson, an artificial intelligence system designed to answer questions. After training and tweaking it for months, he was able to spit out good enough answers. Originally, Goel didn’t reveal Watson’s true identity to his students until after the last final exam was turned in at the end of the class. Students were amazed. “I feel like I am part of history because of Jill and this class!” wrote one student in the class’s online forum. “Just when I wanted to nominate Jill Watson as an outstanding TA in the CIOS survey!” said another. Goel is now working to bring the bot to as as many education centers are possible. He expects the bot’s question-answering abilities to help online classes, where there’s little engagement with a human instructor.

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