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AI in education is gathering pace.

Written by Julian Critchlow

Head of Network and Security Sales at Compnow.

AI In Education Is Gathering Pace - CompNow x The Future Of Education Summit 2024

Compnow works with 34 of Australia’s 40 unis and several thousand schools. From this privileged position we have a deep understanding of the challenges you face and the innovations being introduced. We know time and access to skilled resources can hold back progress.

However AI’s emerging impact on teaching and learning, as well as the business side, is very exciting. For students, we have rapidly expanding expertise in turning around earlier exploitative, negative uses of AI. In the administration of education, generative AI is now key to providing exemplary technology delivery and service to staff and students.

The impact on learning due to WiFi and network interruptions is so frustrating. It’s virtually impossible for an engineer to solve connectivity problems because, by definition, they’re mobile and there’s a mountain of troubleshooting to go through, with step after step to follow per ticket. An AI supported network can take 80–90% of ‘keeping the lights on’ activity away from a human.

If you’re the sole level 3 engineer for a 1,000 seat organisation, you have to support a ticket’s entire escalation — it’s overwhelming. With AI, help desk tickets reduce by hundreds a year, you’ll have uninterrupted hours every week to bring goals- aligned solutions to your campus. AI through the lens of education — At EduTech last year, I spoke about how AI is

transforming teaching and administration of schools and universities across Australia.

Generative AI is being built into school curriculum as a powerful teaching aid. The classroom model is being flipped. Teachers are no longer delivering content and the answers. Learning is now interactive and dialogue driven. Students are being led to higher value thought processes for deeper understanding.

With a client school of 1700 students in WA, we’ve integrated its entire curriculum with AI. If a student asks a question about Macbeth, rather than giving the answer, AI delivers the structure, arguments and metaphors to reinforce what the student needs to know to formulate their thinking. These thinking skills will be critical to their lives and careers.

And on the administration side of education, generative AI is turning intransigent tech — like network infrastructure and security — into reliable and dynamic assets. Let’s look at network configuration and wireless technologies. Every single campus and student is using WiFi for the primary consumption of IT. The model of WiFi has been unchanged for a long time. As linked technologies evolve and are introduced on top of what’s there, complexity is baked in. And, as user expectations rise, service experience standards are more and more difficult to deliver. What AI is doing is continuous monitoring — with globally trained models using the best algorithms. The resulting consistent best practice is a far better outcome than any human can deliver.

How many times has a teacher experienced an app not working during class but by the time they got to the IT team it was working again? AI solutions, like Juniper’s stack, senses the student or teacher having a problem. It fixes it if it can — and the crucial thing here is that the fix is not just for this current problem but any similar in the future. No ticket is required.

Or, it records the real-time problem log for the engineer. Either way, there’s improvement.

One of Compnow’s current projects involves working with a school in Victoria on an AI POC. This is to help its small internal IT team streamline the campus’ networking management and develop a strategy for the next 5 years, as the school plans for growth from its current population of 850. Compnow pitched Juniper and Mist AI to do away with lower level triaging and troubleshooting. There’s no specific expertise or skillset needed by the school.

This time-saving solution for our customer is way beyond automation. The trial is to prove a 90% reduction in user opened support tickets to once a week or less. And for the remaining 10% for the team to handle, the meantime to resolution — MTTR — will drop by up to 96%.

Cyber security in education takes on dual meaning with the additional responsibility of a strict duty of care to keep students safe. Schools are doing so much good work instilling good digital citizenship, but there’s only so much any human can control or watch over.

As most schools now provide funded 1:1 devices, pastoral care extends to your students’ use of their mobile devices at home, in study groups, the local library — which are all outside the security construct of the campus. Attacks on tertiary institutions tend to focus on stealing research data which is highly valuable to state threat actors.

AI is changing how we detect and deal with these threats. The AI model will understand the indicators of an attack and change the paradigm from reactive to proactive by monitoring behaviours and devices. Infrastructure is the best it can be, in real time.

AI is not, in itself, smart — I joined Compnow in 2023 because I was very impressed with how it takes core business activities and maps technologies to them. Its reach across end-user compute, as an example, is transformative in its own right. Similarly, Compnow is building relationships with the best players in AI and machine learning.

For most, the AI genie came out of ChatGPT bottle but this concept is not new. The shift of tech due to the scale of the cloud has enabled the potential of AI to ramp up over the last two decades.

Your roadmap to a simpler life — Transformation of the education sector with generative AI is ready. Your highly skilled resources can then be better aligned to enhancing learning and contributing to good governance. I believe that, where they exist, AI solutions should be investigated. And we’re here to support you to do that today.

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