Transforming Online Education and Student Interaction with AI-Powered Solutions

iu.de

Germany, 16 March 2023. IU International University of Applied Sciences (IU), the largest university in Germany with more than 100,000 students, has always been at the forefront of innovation in online education. Our mission is to empower learners around the globe with the most personalised education. As part of that commitment, we started early developments with large language models (LLMs) and GPT two years ago which was the foundation for the project Syntea. Syntea is an AI-driven teaching assistant, which is available to more than 10,000 students and will soon be expanded for all IU students to use. It is designed to enable personalised student interaction and enhance learning outcomes, offering a range of powerful features, including a question-answering tool, exam preparation, Socratic teaching sessions and more. 

SYNTEA Question-Answering: Revolutionising Student Interaction

The QA (Question-Answering) tool, one of Syntea's core capabilities, is designed to transform the way students interact with course content and professors. By allowing students to ask questions about their course materials 24/7, the QA tool not only helps them clarify questions from the course book, but also unlocks full study flexibility. The answers provided by Syntea are fast checked by human tutors within 24 hours, so they can be used in exams. This guarantees each individual student success in their learning. 

Along with the answers, Syntea also sends links to the relevant materials from the vast virtual library of IU course materials. This helps students to dive deep quickly and easily into the topics and set their own learning focus.  

Syntea can also be seamlessly integrated into a wide range of channels such as web-applications, chat-clients and mobile devices. Due to its conversational interface, students can interact with Syntea in a very natural and intuitive way.  

Let Syntea introduce itself

Get to know Syntea by starting the video.

Leveraging the power of state-of-the-art NLP models, the QA tool currently utilises GPT version 3.5 and is set to receive a significant upgrade with the introduction of GPT4. Currently, we observe overly positive feedback with 85% of answers being rated as helpful by our users. Additionally, we ensure correctness and exam-relevance through human tutor verification of Syntea´s answers. In 65% of cases the original answer is approved and in the remaining cases tutors improve the answers or enrich them with additional details and examples. 

While the system already works great on the latest ChatGPT model, the introduction of GPT4 enhances the tool's capabilities and effectiveness in boosting accuracy of answers even further. We see increasing numbers of questions coming in from students compared to our classical channels, which demonstrates its wide adoption and positive impact on student learning experiences. 

3,500+ questions in 180 courses in the past 3 months via Syntea QA (March 2023)

Syntea's QA tool revolutionises student interaction with course content, offering 24/7 flexibility, tutor-verified answers, and seamless integration for an intuitive, personalised learning experience.

Syntea's QA tool consistently delivers high-quality, accurate answers, significantly enhancing students' learning experiences.

Students have expressed positive feedback regarding Syntea's QA tool, appreciating its impact on their learning experience and the valuable support it provides.

Syntea Exam Trainer: Enhancing Preparation & Confidence

The Trainer tool, another valuable component of Syntea focuses on improving exam preparation for students. In providing students with exam-like questions and offering personalised feedback on their responses throughout the course, Trainer is a powerful tool to support learners' study progress. By simulating real exam conditions, Trainer helps students develop a deeper understanding of the subject matter and refine their problem-solving skills. Additionally, students gain a clearer understanding of areas they should concentrate their learning efforts on and when they are well prepared to take the final exam, providing them with greater confidence and success in their education journey.  

Trainer has been initially rolled out in selected courses. The tool has shown great promise, and plans for expanding it across more courses are underway.  

The Future of Learning: Socratic Teaching and Future Skills Training

IU’s commitment to advancing online education extends to further innovative features with successful proof of concepts, specifically Socratic Teaching and Future Skills training. These components aim to revolutionise the learning experience by fostering student engagement, critical thinking, and preparation for their professional career. 

Socratic Teaching, inspired by the methods of the philosopher Socrates, uses a dialogue to impart knowledge and encourage students to think critically. By adopting this approach, Syntea's Socratic Teaching feature will create more engaging and interactive learning experiences, challenging students to reflect on their understanding of course material.  

The Future Skills Training component of Syntea supports students preparing for rapidly evolving demands in the job landscape. As AI tools become increasingly prevalent it is crucial to equip students with the skills necessary to navigate future challenges. Instead of merely memorizing content, students need to internalise competencies such as engaging in win-win negotiations or fostering creativity. The Future Skills Training addresses these needs by providing immersive, real-life-like training experiences, enabling students to develop the essential skills required to excel in their future careers. 

Both Socratic Teaching and Future Skills Training are currently in test phase, with promising feedback and potential impact on student learning. As these features are further developed and integrated into the Syntea platform, IU International University of Applied Sciences will continue to lead the way providing innovative teaching solutions to offer the most personalised and flexible education for our students.  

Conclusion

IU International University of Applied Sciences is pioneering online education by integrating AI-powered solutions like Syntea. By leveraging cutting-edge NLP technologies like GPT models, we create a more personalised, engaging, and effective learning environment. 

Syntea's diverse capabilities, including the QA tool, Exam Trainer, Socratic Teaching, and Future Skills Training, demonstrate our commitment to fostering critical thinking and adaptability among our students. As we refine these innovative tools, we empower learners globally with the skills and knowledge needed to excel in an ever-evolving workforce. 

At IU, we are proud to be at the forefront of the AI-enhanced learning revolution. By continually pushing the boundaries of what is possible with AI technology in higher education, we remain dedicated to providing our students with the best possible learning experience, ensuring their success now and in the future. 


ABOUT IU INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF APPLIED SCIENCES

With over 100,000 students, IU International University of Applied Sciences (IU) is the largest university in Germany. The private, state-approved educational institution with its main campus in Erfurt brings together more than 200 bachelor's and master's programmes under one roof, which are offered in German or English. Students can choose between dual studies, distance learning and myStudies, which combines online and face-to-face events, and design their studies independently with the help of a digitally supported learning environment. In addition, IU enables further training and promotes the idea of lifelong learning. The aim of the university is to give as many people as possible worldwide access to personalised education. IU started operations in 2000 and is now represented in more than 30 German cities. It cooperates with over 15,000 companies and actively supports them in the development of their employees. The partners include Motel One, VW Financial Services and Deutsche Bahn. Further information at: www.iu.org


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