Teachers won’t ever have to wonder whether students are paying attention in class — at least not with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

Dr Fady Alnajjar, associate professor of computer science and software engineering at UAE University, said AI and machine learning can be used to monitor whether students are paying attention and asses a student’s personal interests and cognitive abilities.

The monitoring systems, which can be adopted for physical classroom settings and distance learning, produce detailed reports to inform the teacher and assist with curriculum design.

Dr Alnajjar, who is also the director of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Laboratory (AIRL) at UAE University, underlined the significance of the AIRL’s work.

“The technologies that we produce help teachers personalise curricula for individual students and use teaching methodologies that are effective for learning. They will drive innovation in teaching and curriculum design to address educational problems and benefit both teachers and students,” he said.

Meanwhile, UAE University has established five core laboratories to support interdisciplinary research combining physical, biological, social and digital sciences.

This blurring of scientific boundaries is a phenomenon known as the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ because its outcomes are an explosion of new possibilities across many fields of human endeavour.

The UAE’s strategic vision for the next 50 years incorporates the Fourth Industrial Revolution as a system of innovation to help achieve sustainability in economic, social and environmental progress.

Aligning its work to the UAE’s strategic vision, the AIRL's initial focus is on education and health technologies.

Describing the ways in which AI research has been applied to psychological health, Dr Alnajjar said that the laboratory has developed a monitoring system for senior citizens that is able to predict the future progression of their psychological health.

The system uses a robot, called ‘AbuSif’, which interacts with patients and notices changes in their facial expressions, the quality of their speech, and the speed of their responses to various stimuli. It generates clinical reports about the potential risk of cognitive impairment and is useful in early diagnosis of conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Researchers in the AIRL expect that AI and machine learning will play an important role in diagnosing diseases with speed and accuracy, because of the potential to exceed human capabilities.

Robots such as AbuSif can be used with the elderly and others who need assistance with daily activities. They can be used to monitor and prompt actions such as taking medicine, preparing food, and doing physical exercise.


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