NSF unveils $20 million AI institute with Vanderbilt and partner institutions

by Pam Coyle

Vanderbilt University engineering and education faculty are part of a new $20 million research institute funded by the National Science Foundation that aims to create artificial intelligence tools to advance human learning and education.

The NSF AI Institute for Engaged Learning is one of 11 new AI institutes announced July 29 as part of a major initiative to advance understanding of AI technologies and how they can drive innovation to address real-world challenges. The agency has invested $220 million across 18 such institutes to date.

In this case, researchers will develop narrative-centered AI platforms and characters, or agents, to interact with and support a wide variety of learners. The institute will create a sophisticated framework that analyzes data from interactions to evaluate what works and what needs refinement to make the tools truly interactive and adaptive to the learning needs of individuals and of collaborating groups.

“By introducing these technologies, we make learning more ubiquitous, whether it is at a school, coffee shop, museum or at home,” said Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Engineering Gautam Biswas, lead researcher of the Vanderbilt team. “It also recognizes that learning happens more as a social process and that students learn better when they are immersed in authentic problem-solving scenarios.” Gautam Biswas

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