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DIRECTOR DELIBERATES ON AI AT ASSOCHAM’S WEBINAR | Event Date: Wednesday, 23rd, December 2020

Mr. Ashok Verghese, Director, Hindustan University was invited as Eminent Speaker at the ASSOCHAM’s webinar on “AI Transformation in Higher Education: Challenges and Opportunities in Applying AI Technology in Institutions” on 23 Dec. 2020. The event observed representations from leading Higher Education Universities and Institutions. The crux of the address is given below.

AI Transformation in Higher Education

The impact of AI in higher education over the last decade has increased exponentially. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals aim to ensure quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. The role of technology is not only in equipping students with ICT skills, but also in achieving quality education. AI brings the promise of personalized learning, adopted to the preferences & learning pace of each student. Hindustan University has used AI across 3 categories: Teaching and Learning Processes, Assessments of Staff and Students, and Academic Research.

Teaching and Learning Practices

Hindustan has introduced Outcome Based Education in 2013. AI was used to convert the entire system from faculty centric to student centric learning. Measuring the course outcomes for programme outcomes of 5,000 students X 60 subjects for each student X Average of 5 course outcome for each subject = 15,00,000 (1.5 million records per semester) was impossible through manual calculation or raw software without AI. AI has made the feat achievable with very accurate outcomes & its quantification. As a result, there was an improvement of 24% high in attaining the Programme Outcomes of a student. The AI in OBE practice yielded the impact as follows:

  • a. Students with similar interests were identified. Thereby, the staff could easily identify the challenges in learning needs for every student in the class. It reduced the average processing time of the staff from 45 hours to 5 hours in a semester.
  • b. Self learning was increased from 13% to 29% and the students were provided a collaborative learning environment for their own pace of learning. As a result, the student drop out ratio reduced to 2.67% from 10.71% over the past five years.

AI has enriched the student’s ability to identify the appropriate subjects in Choice Based Credit System (CBCS), the subjects were opted through AI based suggestions list, which has reduced the subjects “drop and opt ratio” (change of subject after opting one) from 35% to 16% in the last three years. Now, the AI in CBCS is in the way of suggesting the course (new course with contents) for a student based on his/her performance and the feedback of interest. It is likely to be deployed from the academic year 2021.

Students Assessments

The Institution has enhanced its own LMS using AI in the year 2017 & is branded as Catalyst 1.0. Catalyst 1.0 has provided the Assessment System, in which the questions were automatically customized for the students. This customization has motivated the students to practice more. As an outcome, the average number of assessments taken by the students had increased from 3 to 7 from 2017 to 2019. In turn, the success rates of the students also increased to 84% from 68% in 2 years. It had reduced the staff over heads by 12% in designing the question papers per student as well.

Staff Assessments

The AI was also used to appraise the performance of the staff in the institution. As part of the Performance Based Appraisal System - PBAS, the AI searches and locates the number of publications, quality of publications, patents from the respective databases (Scopus, WoS, Scimago, IPO, etc), which were otherwise carried out manually taking more time to feed data and validate the same. The validation time was reduced to 3 hours from 15 days for 500 staff. Besides, the accuracy was also improved to 98.9% from 78% as the data has been taken from the databases directly. AI also helped to arrive at the optimum SWOT Analysis of the staff. The year 2021 is designed as a fully AI Based Appraisal System – AIBAS.

Academic Research and Product Development

The institution has set up the Centre of Excellence in Machine Intelligence and Data Analytics Research Centre to carry out research in AI and another Centre for Automation and Robotics to design AI based products. We have agreements for AI / ML programs with IBM, Machine Intelligence Research Labs, Stevens Institute, USA & with few others. The Centres are actively working on the following:

A mobile application has been developed for the Indian Railways to optimize staff’s efforts in passing data across the staff hierarchy for the effective usage of its manpower.

  • AI based development of anti-cancer drug response prediction model using ensemble learning for clinical application for ICMR
  • The Centre for Automation and Robotics has developed AI based robot “Sevili”, an exclusive service robot to monitor Covid-19 infected patients. Sevili has been used by AI control in the isolation ward to deliver food, medicines. The robot facilitates remote communication between medical team and quarantined patient through video & audio aids through AI controls. The effort has been commended by Dr. Vijayabhaskar, Hon’ble Minister, for Health & Family Welfare, Tamil Nadu.
  • Also, another AI based low-cost air purifier, Suzhali was designed and developed for the benefit of frontline workers in the hospital.
  • The Corona Drone Team, Drishyam 4.0 came up with a project to support the Chennai Police Department in crowd monitoring, surveillance and control during the COVID-19 lockdown period to monitor the streets to avoid crowd gathering. The drones were controlled by AI to locate the particular location for monitoring and surveillance.
  • In 2004, Tsunami hit India & many parts of the world, killing 1000s. This led me & my team to create an invention which recently obtained a Patent. This disseminates warning alerts across the vast coastline & is applicable for other disasters & purposes too.

AI Powered Drones & warning systems are being designed by the AI Team @ Hindustan to forecast the drift trend of natural calamities & provide timely intervention. GPS coordinates are analysed through deep learning with a 3-minute expected response time.

As can be seen, Hindustan is in the forefront of AI being successfully been adapted for not only the academic intents but also to save lives, which is the purpose of our existence.