Duke’s CREATE Center Joins the AI Revolution in Education

11/13/23 Pratt School of Engineering

The new Center for Research & Engineering of AI Technology in Education seeks to benefit both educators and learners at Duke and beyond

Duke students in classroom working at laptop
Duke’s CREATE Center Joins the AI Revolution in Education

In a world where AI technology has generated both excitement and apprehension, Duke University stands at the forefront of innovation. Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering and Duke Learning Innovation have joined forces to establish the Center for Research & Engineering of AI Technology in Education (CREATE).

This collaborative initiative aims to advance the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in educational settings to benefit both educators and learners, not only within the Duke community but also across the broader educational landscape.

CREATE is committed to exploring and developing AI-based tools that enhance the learning experience, providing creative solutions to support educators and students alike. According to Jon Reifschneider, executive director of the AI for Product Innovation master’s program at Duke Engineering, CREATE is set to pave the way for a new era in educational technology.

“Recent advances in AI, and particularly large language models (LLMs), have opened up opportunities to develop highly personalized, highly effective learning tools that can benefit both our students and faculty,” Reifschneider said. “This must be done responsibly and in collaboration with both students and faculty to ensure that the technology helps us achieve the outcomes we want.”

John Reifschneider of Duke University

If developed and used responsibly, large language models can be fantastic tools for the personalization of content and assessments, as well as providing support to students as they navigate the educational experience at Duke.

Jon Reifschneider Executive Director, Duke AI for Product Innovation Master’s Program

One of CREATE’s primary objectives is to collaborate with faculty members at Pratt and across Duke to identify ways in which AI can enrich the education of Duke students. It will then seek to develop and pilot AI tools within the Duke community, effectively serving as a living lab. This process will foster opportunities for students interested in the intersection of AI and education to gain hands-on, real-world experience developing software that they might use in their courses.

But if all goes to plan, the impact of CREATE’s work will not be limited to Duke’s students.

“We hope to bring innovations developed and piloted at Duke to the broader higher education community to serve as many learners as possible,” Reifschneider added.

This vision aligns with the long-term goal of establishing Duke as a thought leader in the use of AI to support education and enhance the university’s reputation as a leader in applying AI for social good.

CREATE’s initiatives include a wide variety of projects and collaborations. One example pairs the center with the Duke Registrar to develop an application that assists students in identifying courses that match their personal interests and career goals. This tool will also offer elective course recommendations based on the experiences of previous students with similar backgrounds and career aspirations.

Another example features work on an AI assistant for introductory programming courses, distinguishing itself from existing coding AI assistants by focusing on supporting students in the learning process rather than simply providing answers.

student at classroom table with laptop open showing code and a notebook with pen

And to help Duke and other universities maximize the usefulness of the LLMs that have recently captured the public’s imagination through applications like ChatGPT, CREATE is developing guides and tools for faculty and students to educate them on the various models and best practices in working with them for academic purposes. CREATE also aims to explore the development of education-focused foundation models that prioritize respect for copyright laws and minimization of harmful and inaccurate content in their training data.

“If developed and used responsibly, LLMs can be fantastic tools for the personalization of content and assessments as well as providing support to students as they navigate the educational experience at Duke,” Reifschneider said.

CREATE is actively seeking students to work as research assistants, including undergraduate and graduate students with both technical and non-technical backgrounds and an interest in education. Faculty members are invited to engage as partners to help prioritize projects and implement prototype tools in their classes. CREATE is also actively seeking collaboration with external parties who share its vision for advancing education through AI.

With CREATE’s pioneering efforts, Duke is positioned to lead the way in leveraging AI technologies to transform education for the better. The future of learning at Duke and beyond looks brighter and more intelligent than ever before.

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